Project, 24.02.2017

Adam Pendleton
at KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Feb 24 – May 14, 2017

A woman on the train asks angela davis for an autograph, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery, New York / Adam Pendleton IF THE FUNCTION OF WRITING, 2017, detail, Courtesy the artist and Galeria Pedro Cera, Lisbon

Adam Pendleton: A woman on the train asks angela davis for an autograph, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery, New York /  IF THE FUNCTION OF WRITING, 2017, detail. Courtesy the artist and Galeria Pedro Cera, Lisbon

 

Adam Pendleton‘s multi-disciplinary practice engages with language and the reframing of history, and he follows Hanne Lippard as the second of three artists to present exhibitions reflecting on the work of Ian Wilson. Beginning his practice as a painter, Wilson increasingly took on communication, abstraction, and the nature of knowledge as subjects, and used dialogue as a form. As a response, Pendleton stages an intervention to the entire third floor of KW. Cutting across the exhibition space is a diagonal wall, across which is printed the first sentence of Ron Sillman’s poem “Albany” – “If the function of writing is to ‘express the world.’” This statement, or question, is met with an arrangement of posters, collages, and other archival materials from Pendleton’s practice, pasted in successive layers and constrained to a black-and-white palette. And Wilson’s voice is present in the midst: shot him in the face includes one of his monochromatic paintings, with which the artist aimed for producing an object devoid of referential content and touching true abstraction. As part of KW’s The Weekends agenda, three of Pendleton’s film works will also be showing at the Babylon cinema. All showcase Pendleton’s focus on the themes of portraiture, artistic exchange, and methods of representation – filmic and otherwise.

 

WE (we are not successive), 2015 Siebdrucktinte auf spiegelpoliertem Edelstahl / Silkscreen ink on mirror polished stainless steel Courtesy der Ku?nstler / the artist, und / and Pace Gallery, New York (US)

WE (we are not successive), 2015. Courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery, New York

Project, 13.02.2017

Hello, Robot
Design between Human and Machine
at Vitra Design Museum
Feb 10 – May 14, 2017

 

Yonezawa, »Directional Robot«, 1957. Private collection. Photo: Andreas Sütterlin

Yonezawa, »Directional Robot«, 1957. Private collection. Photo: Andreas Sütterlin

 

When science fiction scenarios are applied to reality: How is robotics changing our lives and what is design’s role within that spectrum? As these technological advancements have found their way into our everyday environs, design has a central responsibility in this process, for it is designers who shape the interfaces between humans and machines. The exhibition Hello, Robot at the Vitra Design Museum examines the current robotics boom from the scope of various disciplines in extensive detail for the first time. Comprising more than 200 exhibits, the exhibition includes robots used in the home, in nursing care, and in industry as well as computer games, media installations, and relevant examples in films and literature. Through this sweeping analysis, the show broadens our awareness of the associated ethical, social, and political issues that arise. As our environment is becoming ever smarter and more autonomous, Hello Robot initiates a necessary discussion on how design cultivates the relationship between human and machine. Accompanying the exhibition, an extensive programme of talks, films, performances, and workshops further illuminates the topic in question from a number of different perspectives.

 

Shawn Maximo, »Going Green«, Vinylprint 2016 © Shawn Maximo / TRNDlabs, »SKEYE Nano 2 FPV Drone«, 2015 Fernsteuerung und Nano-Drohne © TRNDlabs

Shawn Maximo, »Going Green«, Vinylprint 2016 © Shawn Maximo / TRNDlabs, »SKEYE Nano 2 FPV Drone«, 2015 Fernsteuerung und Nano-Drohne © TRNDlabs

Feature, 28.01.2017

Language and Dialogue as a Form of Art — Ian Wilson and Hanne Lippard at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Jan 20 – Apr 9, 2017

Hanne Lippard, Flesh, 2016, Installationsansicht KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Courtesy die Künstlerin und LambdaLambdaLambda, Prishtina, Foto: Frank Sperling

Hanne Lippard, Flesh, 2016, installation view KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Courtesy the artist and LambdaLambdaLambda, Prishtina, Photo: Frank Sperling

The reopening of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art is marked by a series of exhibitions reflecting on the work of South African artist Ian Wilson, who explores spoken language as an art form and places great emphasis on dialogue. In Wilson’s non-tangible practice, language morphs into the quintessential vehicle for communication and knowledge. To highlight the importance of his objective in relation to the role of language, three selected artists have been invited to concentrate on different aspects of his artistic output and use them as inspiration for the production of new work. First in line to delve into the topic is Norwegian artist Hanne Lippard with the immersive installation Flesh that takes Wilson’s Statements and Circle Works as its point of departure. Lippard’s physical piece—a spiral staircase leading to a platform—incorporates the artist’s voice which completely encompasses the audience and opens up a world in which ourexperience of language as pure voice is further investigated. Maintaining Wilson’s oeuvre as a guiding framework, Lippard’s exhibition will be followed by artists Adam Pendleton and Paul Elliman.

Ian Wilson, Circle on the floor (Chalk Circle), 1968, unlimitierte Auflage, Courtesy der Künstler und Jan Mot; Ian Wilson, The Pure Awareness of the Absolute / A Discussion, 2014, Courtesy der Künstler und Jan Mot, Brüssel, Leihgabe: Jan Mot, Brüssel; Installationsansicht KW Institute for Contemporary Art, 2017, Foto: Frank Sperling

Ian Wilson, Circle on the floor (Chalk Circle), 1968, unlimited edition, Courtesy the artist and Jan Mot; Ian Wilson, The Pure Awareness of the Absolute / A Discussion, 2014, Courtesy der Künstler und Jan Mot, Brüssel, Loan: Jan Mot, Brüssel; installation view KW Institute for Contemporary Art, 2017, Photo: Frank Sperling

 

Project, 27.01.2017

Das Numen Meatus –
Scientific Data morphs into a Sonic Experience
Jan 27 – Mar 11, 2017

Das Numen Meatus, 2016, courtesy Das Numen and DITTRICH & SCHLECHTRIEM, Berlin

Das Numen Meatus, 2016, courtesy Das Numen and Dittrich & Schlechtriem, Berlin

 

After relocating to a more spacious venue right behind the Volksbühne, the Dittrich & Schlechtriem gallery inaugurates its new home with an installation by the Berlin-based artist collective Das Numen, made up of artists Julian Charrière, Andreas Greiner, Markus Hoffmann, and Felix Kiessling. The collective’s practice is premised on the methodological primacy of experimentation and the significance of engaging with their surroundings and the present moment. Entitled Das Numen Meatus, the exhibition focuses on sonic compositions and the importance of atmosphere for their existence. Something intangible and ephemeral fills the gallery’s rooms: sounds emerge, produced by an array of pipes suspended in the space. Das Numen feed readings—wind velocities and directions—from twenty weather stations into a computer program that converts the data into impulses. The latter in turn control valves that allow compressed air to pass through the pipes, which begin to sound. Scientific data that, due to its enormous quantity, often goes unused is transformed into sensual sounds and a curious aesthetic experience.

Feature, 14.12.2016

KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin

Philippe Van Snick, Dag/Nacht, 1984 – fortlaufend / ongoing Installationsansicht Eingangstor/ Installation view entrance gate, KW Institute for Contemporary Art Foto/Photo: Frank Sperling Courtesy Tatjana Pieters

Philippe Van Snick, Dag/Nacht, 1984 – ongoing. Installation view entrance gate, KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Photo: Frank Sperling, Courtesy Tatjana Pieters

Founded in the early ’90s, in a derelict margarine factory, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the KW Institute for Contemporary Art has come to be seen as a symbol of Berlin’s artistic development. After 25 years, it continues operating as a lively platform for progressive art practices, and a meeting place specialised in experimental discursive programming. As part of a larger institutional restructuring process under the new directorship of Krist Gruijthuijsen, every part of KW’s 2017 program of exhibitions and events is filtered through the lens of artistic vision. The new program emphasizes dialogue and experimental uses of language, fostering visible exchange between artists and audiences in Berlin, and beyond. Ongoing investigations into singular art practices or thematics form the basis for corresponding commissions and exhibitions. The open-endedness and collaborative nature that lies at the core of the establishment’s mission creates a profoundly inclusionary place that invites numerous voices, and narratives to unfold through its program and the conversations it inspires in its audience. Thus, KW continues to push beyond the confines of the physical building through artistic commissions and events. Inviting artists to interfere with its physical space is an inextricable element of the institute’s approach. One of the most recent site-specific artworks, Philippe Van Snick’s intervention on the entrance gate, complements already existing pieces like Dan Graham’s glass pavilion housing Café Bravo, Renata Lucas’ pavement restructuring outside the main building, as well as the iconic garden by atelier le balto that has returned to the courtyard.

Project, 09.12.2016

Vitra Design Museum opened Schaudepot

homepage-vitra-general

Exterior view Schaudepot, located at the Vitra Campus adjacent to the Firestation by Zaha Hadid © Vitra Design Museum, Julien Lanoo / Exhibition view of main hall © Vitra Design Museum, Mark Niedermann

With the opening of Schaudepot in June 2016, the Vitra Design Museum more than doubled its exhibition space. Designed by Basel-based architects Herzog & de Meuron, the new addition functions as a venue for presenting key objects from the museum’s extensive collection to the public. Holding the first permanent exhibition of the institution’s sprawling collection, the brick building includes over 7.000 pieces covering all significant epochs and protagonists of design from 1800 to the present, and the estates of designers such as Verner Panton and Charles & Ray Eames. The central focus is a selection of more than 400 key objects of furniture design, including rare works by such designers as Gerrit Rietveld, Alvar Aalto, Charles & Ray Eames, or Ettore Sottsass, but also lesser-known or anonymous objects. What the collection aims to achieve is to document the past and present of interior design, and foster research in a broader context. Schaudepot combines the simple appearance of an industrial warehouse with the complex requirements of a walk-in museum repository. To the outside, the structure presents itself as a monolithic volume constructed from hand-broken bricks, characterised by a completely windowless facade and a simple gable roof. With its understated and dignified appearance, the edifice’s architecture reflects the cultural value of the objects stored within. Through this new expansion, the Vitra Design Museum is addressing the characteristic development in the sphere of design and museums today, as well as communicating the significance of design through discussions, the demonstration of social correlations and the presentation of references to other fields. Now in operation, Schaudepot is one of the world’s largest permanent exhibitions and research facilities on modern interior design.

Project, 06.12.2016

Einstein unter den Linden —
Berlin’s iconic coffeehouse and restaurant
under new direction

right photo: Stefan Korte

There aren’t many places that manage to retain their quality and appeal while standing the test of time in the ever-changing landscape of Berlin. One of those select few is the coffeehouse and restaurant Einstein unter den Linden in Mitte, serving classic Austrian cuisine at its very best. Staying true to its identity, the house is a timeless meeting point that opens its doors to eager breakfasters as early as 7am and keeps on going until well after dark. Now, under the direction of the Grill Royal group, the famed establishment is resuscitating the allure of its early days. Breakfast and lunch staples are joined by an evening menu as well as fine wine and plat du jour assortments. Marinated cap of rump, breaded fried chicken with potato salad and Viennese schnitzel with parsley potatoes, cranberries and cucumber salad are just a handful of the delectable highlights. With respect for the original charm of the house, the interior has been carefully renovated and furnished. Known for its iconic frame-covered walls, the revived decoration now focuses on original photographs by Robert Lebeck and Susanne Shapovalow as well as works by contemporary artists. Under the Linden trees, Einstein maintains the perfect blend of dignified and intimate as a standing bastion of the area’s formerly rich cultural fabric. The atmosphere is a testament to the flair of a bygone era with an amalgam of politicians, bohemians and intelligentsia found mingling in one place. From new and old Berliners to tourists and all kinds of flaneurs, Einstein is where all paths converge.

Feature, 28.11.2016

Gonzalez Haase for the Department Store Oberpollinger —
An interior design overhaul of one of Munich’s retail institutions

photo by Thomas Meyer

photo by Thomas Meyer

After commissioning architect John Pawson to plan a comprehensive spatial reimagining, Munich’s luxury department store Oberpollinger enlisted the Berlin-based studio Gonzalez Haase AAS to design the store’s lower level. Consisting of the kidswear, urbanwear and accessories sections, the basement floor is characterised by an interaction of different layers that follow a certain choreography yet remain non-hierarchical and distinguishable as individual. Architecture studio Gonzalez Haase, who in 2003 began designing the first concept stores for Andreas Murkudis across Germany, takes an interdisciplinary approach to architecture by combining elements from art, cinema and scenography into their projects. Always harking back to the origins of a space as a departure point, the duo tries to see the bare substance in each structure to better analyze its profile. In Oberpollinger’s case, they formed clearly readable spaces with simple lighting and raw, almost improvised surfaces. This combination of elements forms cool environs, elegant in shape, with a detached precision—something that corresponds to the duo’s interpretation of the so-called ‘Berlin style’.

photo left: Thomas Meyer / photo right: Pierre Jorge Gonzalez

photo left: Thomas Meyer / photo right: Pierre Jorge Gonzalez

Interview, 23.11.2016

On Urban Planning and the Role of the Contemporary Architect.
In discussion with Something Fantastic

Architecture is linked to everything and vice versa. An architect should be someone who gathers and synthesizes knowledge from a broad array of fields and is ambitious enough to challenge parochial views and foment a shift in perspective. Following a straight-forward dictum—smart, touching, simple architecture—the Berlin-based architecture collective Something Fantastic aspires to foster changes within the industry and initiate discussions about architecture in a wide spectrum. Contemporary politics, materials, energy and the environment are all topics that coalesce into the core of architecture and what it means today; topics that SF seeks to address through their practice and the site-specific courses they teach at ETH Zurich. The trio’s hopeful view on the future is not solely based on unyielding idealism but also realistic expectations and pragmatic plans. Simply put, they aspire to make the world better.

Here, we engage in a discussion with Julian Schubert, Elena Schütz and Leo Streich about the role of the contemporary architect, the inflexibility of city planning and the need for fewer rules.

photo: Kirsten Bucher

photo: Kirsten Bucher

The architectural practice has inadvertently formed a status quo within the industry that’s quite obsolete. How do you approach this state of things?

We do what we do because we think that somehow we’ll contribute to a situation which allows for better architecture and the amelioration of the field. Our specific role is not to be politicians; our role right now is to design and to give shape.

You’ve stated that we need fewer rules. How do you mean that?

In the field of construction, rules are mostly put into effect to cope with the complexity of what is technically and programmatically possible and what is good and safe for the society as a whole. But rules are often too rigid and they can keep you from developing in a more diverse way. For example, there are more and more regulations emerging in order to prevent gentrification and rising rents. Of course, it’s a good idea, I’m glad i don’t have to leave my place, but at the same time you can’t really change anything in those buildings or do anything to improve certain aspects. And that’s where you see the coarseness of rules as they leave no room to distinguish between someone whose motives are to raise the building’s standards and someone who’s out to to make a financial profit at the expense of others. Architecture is suffocated by more and more rules because the essence of the practice is all about vitality, progress and movement.

Your approach is multi-disciplinary. Do you think architecture is more about how we interact with spaces in general, and not just buildings per se?

To better answer this, it might be helpful to differentiate between architecture and architects. Architecture is from the very small scale of furniture and the process of furnishing a room all the way up to cities and structures, landscapes, and how the urban interacts with the rural. On the other hand, being an architect doesn’t necessarily mean that we only focus on architecture. Personally, I don’t have such a wide understanding of architecture, but I do have a wide understanding of what an architect should be doing.

Which is?

It’s more about the idea of the architect being this individual who culls all kinds of information and synthesizes it into forms and into something that maybe manifests architecturally, that can be touched or whatever. That’s our understanding of practicing as an architect nowadays. This was also the starting point and the outcome of our manifesto. We ask ourselves, how can we engage with the world using the tools, skills and knowledge that we possess. In the end, it’s not necessary to produce architecture per se—architecture meaning all that is built—in order to be considered an architect.

How do you see the role of the architect then?

Ideally, architects will get involved in multiple fields, become more interested in processes and accept that the manifestation of their thoughts can happen indirectly and maybe later down the line—instant gratification isn’t the goal. That also involves that students should veer away from this idea of the form-creator and the necessity for tangibility. We should become more independent from form. It’s about the space, not about the form; there is no form. It’s about people, interaction, performance with the space; that’s what we want to discuss. Well, we believe that limiting yourself to a narrow understanding of design as a discipline that invents nice facades using nice materials is counterproductive. Also, if you stay within the traditional spectrum of architecture as the practice that designs buildings, it is important to take into account the mechanisms that have an impact on the building you’re creating on various scales and levels. How does it interact with the city? How could it be used when the original user has moved out? How is the building operated? How does it complement the adjacent buildings? How does it influence the lives of people who live in and around it? Where do the production materials come from?

But it should not stop there. We are interested in the planning of the city; the real estate market; the social and economic developments within neighbourhoods; the meaning of the building sector in global economics; and the flow of goods and resources in relation to architecture.

photo left: fashion show at Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin / photo right: Felix Torkar / photo bottom: Zara Pfeifer

photo left: fashion show at Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin / photo right: Felix Torkar / photo bottom: Zara Pfeifer

 

Tell me more about the kind of discussions you’re trying to initiate as architects.

We get the chance to explore this aspect through the courses we teach every year at the ETH Zurich. The one we did in Brazil focused on favelas which are totally stigmatised; they’re seen as something that city planning should eradicate. And, sure, favelas have a lot of problems but they also have potential. For example, they are extremely pedestrian-friendly, they exude a strong sense of community, and you actually see that in the way space is structured. Favelas are intriguing and inspiring—it’s a matter of perspective. Informally built neighbourhoods have a lot to teach. Our goal there was to describe them as habitats and explore how denizens found solutions for urban development.

Speaking of inhabitants’ needs within the city, right now in Berlin, people want a better cycling infrastructure, and in that discussion arises the issue of seasonality. In the summer, the majority of the population opts for cycling, but come winter no one really wants to use a bicycle. So it seems pointless to retain year-round cycling paths considering that the demand for them drops massively in winter. Of course, this is just an example that pops to our head, but it goes to show that seasonal design can be effective in various fields. Cities need to be more flexible and adaptable to needs and seasons. We’d like to discuss this idea of seasonality but our modernist mindset doesn’t think about seasons; to be modern is to not be reliant on nature’s elements. Being dependent on seasons seems anachronistic or even primitive. However, it would be very smart to consider this logical parameter.

Why are cities reluctant to changes?

Cities are complex, wicked problems. Planning is even a super wicked problem—to use a scientific term here. Complex interdependencies render problems almost impossible to solve. But, if a politician thinks that implementing this or that would make his life easier, then the plan in question is put into effect. But in the end, we don’t just sit here making ourselves increasingly frustrated due to our belief of what is good and what is bad in this convoluted state of affairs. Admittedly, things are somehow moving in the right direction… Which means they are becoming more pressing and more obvious. It’s the sort of development that makes what’s important and viable more acute, present and talked about.

Finally, can you give us a selection of three staple books that have significantly influenced your practice and approach to architecture?

In the field of informal housing, Housing by People: Towards Autonomy in Building Environments by John Turner, and Tropical Architecture in the Dry and Humid Zones by Edwin Maxwell Fry. Generally and conceptually, A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander. And, last but not least, Wie funktioniert das? Technische Vorgänge, in Wort und Bild erklärt (in English: How does this work?) published by Allgemeiner Verlag.

Interview by Effie Efthymiadi

photo left: Jan Bitter / photo right: Helen Levitt, 1988

photo left: Jan Bitter / photo right: Helen Levitt, 1988

Project, 22.11.2016

Design Display #3 focuses on material research

installation view, photo: Michael Jungblut

installation view, photo: Michael Jungblut

 

According to theorist William Myers, a designer should also be a kind of translator, shaping material and visual elements into something that makes sense as part of our daily lives. Designers transfer research into everyday use; they work on objects and systems. So what is our understanding of design research? How can it be practised as an experiment and in turn produce knowledge pointing to the future? For the third edition of the exhibition series Design Display at the Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Julia Lohmann and Petra Blaisse transfer scientific examination into the world of design. Delving into the subject of material research, the two designers present their in-depth investigation and distinct outcomes inside the exhibition’s characteristic glass display. On one side we find Julia Lohmann’s work which primarily addresses the question of how design can deal more sensitively with natural resources. In her mobile research station, the “Department of Seaweed”, she develops new methods for how seaweed can replace fossil fuels, as well as how it can be be pressed, cut, sewn, and applied to objects. The other side of the display is occupied by Petra Blaisse’s “Solar Curtain”, an aesthetic, ecological product that shows how previously unused surfaces can be discovered as a resource and then utilized. The 3D curtain, equipped with solar cells capable of producing electricity, is the interim result of a long-term research project that the designer has initiated after collaborating with textile experts and engineers.

To order a copy of the magazine On Display that accompanies each exhibition and delves deeper into the chosen subject, head over to form.

Petra Blaisse, Solar Curtain & Julia Lohmann, Department of Seaweed © Design Display. photo: Noortje Knulst

Petra Blaisse, Solar Curtain & Julia Lohmann, Department of Seaweed
© Design Display. photo: Noortje Knulst