top Baas Maartens´ Smoke, bottom Dave Hakkens´ bloks. both © Frank Hülsbömer
Shiny, immaculate, new: these are the qualities we expect from the objects with which we surround ourselves. But one often forgets that aging is also part of life – and design. Transience, the theme taken on by the sixth Design Display exhibition, is much more than a philosophical question. Two designers who deal with the concept of impermanence in different ways take center stage: Maarten Baas destroys in order to create, while Dave Hakkens develops concepts of sustainability. Though both of them share the opinion that good design is more than good looks. For the Smoke series, Baas took iconic design pieces and torched them until they were left charred. In reworking design classics, Maarten Baas’ productive act of destruction not only shows the surface’s vulnerability, but the transience of the original design intentions. The torched versions call for the recognition that things must elapse to make room for the new. Facing Baas on the other side of the glass display, is Dutch designer Dave Hakkens with his Phonebloks – a concept for a smartphone made up entirely of individual modules. The idea is that different “bloks” can be assembled on the motherboard like Lego blocks. These blocks are autonomous functional units such as batteries, processors, speakers, cameras, or memory cards. Users can assemble or upgrade their device at will, as well as easily replace broken parts. The transience of a single module doesn’t spell the end for the whole device. The transience of a single module doesn’t spell the end for the whole device. In the On Display magazine accompanying the exhibition, the fascination with ephemerality and the allure of decay are further explored.
Photos: Elias Hassos
If an artwork is damaged, does it continue to be regarded as art? Apparently not. At least not within the gallery and museum system. All marred art inevitably falls into oblivion, but its lack of monetary worth doesn’t preclude its aesthetic and social values. Salvage art—a term borrowed from the art insurance lexicon—refers to work removed from art circulation due to accidental damage. Founded by artist Elka Krajewska, the Salvage Art Institute rescues said objects from the invisibility of perpetual storage by insurance companies, in order to highlight their survival past their total devaluation. The exhibition No Longer Art – which is part of the program Stop making sense, it’s as good as it gets – exposes a fragile contingency at the heart of art’s identity, beyond the capitalist world it was born into. Its castaway pieces are subject to a peculiar and transformative logic, as they are thrown into art’s nether world but are often still relatively intact. Their identity is discarded and, in theory, they emerge as something entirely different.
© Robert Rieger
Advocating for the integration and inclusion of people from migration and refugee backgrounds, and all kinds of minority groups, lies at the core of The Power of the Arts initiative. Through different expressions of culture — like music, art, theater, and dance — a deeper sense of understanding is fostered across the board. This year’s winning non-profit initiatives touch on numerous issues of discrimination and inequality. Label m invests in youth subcultures and the flourishing scene of young talents in Saarbrucken. Sprayers, skaters, rappers; they all herald the creativity emerging from this often underestimated city. Through Weissensee academy’s *foundationClass program, refugees who want to follow an artistic path are given an opportunity to prepare themselves for applying to art schools. In Saxony, Banda Internationale uses music to neutralize hate, tear down prejudices and connect different cultures. A further aim is to render integration successful and create a more open community where democratic exchange doesn’t merely exist as an idea. Meanwhile, Un-Label seeks to do exactly what its name implies: remove labels and fight against putting people into boxes. Discriminatory boundaries and biases are banished using the means of performing arts.
Images: Iwan Baan / rendering by Diller Scofidio + Renfro
In Moscow’s oldest district, a new public park is unfurling — the first to be built in the Russian capital in over 50 years. Zaryadye Park sits on a historically charged site in close proximity to the Kremlin and Red Square, as well as surrounding heritage buildings. Since the demolition of the colossal Rossiya Hotel that existed there until 2007, the most expensive real-estate in Moscow was left in ruin. After winning an international competition organized by Moscow Chief Architect Sergei Kuznetsov in collaboration with Strelka KB, NIIPI Genplana of Moscow and the Moscow Committee for Architecture, a design consortium led by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) in partnership with Hagreaves Associates and Citymakers has applied their approach to fostering inclusivity, openness, access and porosity to the project. The defining part of the design’s basis is the idea of “Wild Urbanism” — an elemental confrontation between the natural and artificial, the local and global. Expanding on this overarching concept, the overall lack of paths and predefined routes allow people and plants to exist and move freely alongside each other. Unpredictable conditions give as little instructions as possible and therefore offer a more genuine sense of exploration. Visitors can meander between the different landscapes that blend into one another, and reconcile urban life with the desire to be in proximity to nature. Zaryadye Park’s concept is specific to Russia by including native flora in four artificial microclimates that mimic the landscape typologies dominating Russia: the tundra, the forest, the wetland and steppe. “Moscow lost and found” runs as an underlying thread throughout the project: Once inside the park, large swatches of forest and vegetation allow immersion in nature and escape from the city. Elsewhere, promontories offer singular outlooks from which the city is rediscovered and appreciated anew. Based on the principle of lamination, the park buries built structures underneath, which host different cultural programs, restaurants and a philharmonic hall. Thus, a multiplicity of experiences are embedded in the same space in an ostensibly organic manner that resists over-calculated design. Scheduled to be revealed in September 2017, the current transformation of the Zaryadye district into a public space, represents both a historic moment for the Russian capital, and a powerful opportunity to rethink the purpose, potential, and value of parks in the 21st century.
With their inexhaustible supplies of imagination, intelligent sense of humor and iconic creations, Charles and Ray Eames had a major impact on 20th century culture that extended well beyond design and architecture. Throughout their careers, they focused primarily on finding answers to the simple question of how the basic human needs for living space, comfort and knowledge could best be met. Rather than a luxury, they understood design as a solution. Nowadays, the duo’s name is synonymous with timeless aesthetics and technical precision, embodying the synergy of form and function. In celebration of these two enduring creative forces, the Vitra Design Museum is presenting four parallel exhibitions that offer an unprecedented view of the work created by the ever-referenced designers. From medical splints and airport seating to films and children’s toys, visitors will be invited to explore an all-encompassing spectrum of the Eames’s vision taking over the entirety of the Vitra Campus. The exhibition sequence’s major retrospective will be accompanied by the designers’ cinematic oeuvre of more than 60 films, children toys as well as the full scope of the collection of the Eames Office that is with the museum since 1988.
Credits:Charles and Ray Eames selecting slides / Ray Eames with an early prototype of »The Toy« in the patio of the Eames House, 1950 / Charles and Ray in the living room of the Eames House, 1958 / Installation view of »Glimpses of the U.S.A.«, American National Exhibition, Moscow, 1959 / Photo shoot of the Aluminum Group with Charles Eames, 1960 / Charles and Ray Eames, Film still »Powers of Ten: A Film Dealing with the Relative Size of Things in the Universe and the Effect of Adding Another Zero«, 1977. All pictures: © Eames Office LLC
“You can avoid people but you can’t avoid architecture.“
Whether through questions about gender and sexuality, or by investigating architecture’s imposing ability to manipulate our physical actions on a daily basis, Monica Bonvicini consistently explores themes of power and control. Her multidisciplinary approach—videos, installations, drawings and sculptures—touches on identity as well as socio-political and economic issues with a hint of humour. Conceived for the large exhibition hall of the Berlinische Galerie, Bonvicini’s new installation, amongst other things, investigates the term “facade” and its function in the built environment. The institutional viewing space is often the subject of her work and thus, Bonvicini’s site-specific, power-conscious and gendered allusions to the norms of architectural and artistic modernism quite literally operate on the boundary between artwork and spectator.
Poster by Karl Holmqvist
Gathering more than 240 independent publishers in the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Miss Read is dedicated to building community and creating a public meeting place for discourse around artists’ books, conceptual publications and publishing as practice. The art book fair suffuses art, graphic design, literature and publishing and seeks to cultivate dialogue within various thematics, and essentially give impetus to further cross-pollination between disciplines. Like every year, the fair will be accompanied by a series of lectures, discussions and workshops with the common mission of exploring the boundaries of contemporary publishing and the possibilities of the book. Among other events, the renowned ARCH+ magazine will be celebrated alongside a panel discussion on critical architecture theory, utopias and discursive practice. The 5th Conceptual Poetics Day, a recurring element of the bookfair, will explore the imaginary border between visual art and literature in the form of readings, lectures and performances.
In a small village close to Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso, arts and culture take center stage as contributors to the growth of a country and its younger generation. Initiated as an idea in 2009 by the German artist and theater director Christoph Schlingensief (1960-2010), the international art project Operndorf Afrika provides a platform for cultural encounters, workshops and collaborations. Schlingensief envisaged the initiative as a meeting place where people from different backgrounds are able to work as artists and exchange views. Over the last few years, that seed has grown from mere abstract plans into a full-fledged community that includes sustainable homes, education, health care as well as a bedrock for the area to evolve its singular artistic expression and set an example the world over. Operndorf is essentially a center where ideas can be cultivated as people from across the globe merge in one location. Here art paves the way to a thriving community, cross-cultural dialogue and much-needed postcolonial discourses building up a new image of Africa.
“The Operndorf is a project that arouses hope – hope that there can be a relationship between Europe and Africa, which is based on reciprocity and not on dominance. Hope that culture can contribute to the development of children and the development of a country.” — Horst Köhler, former Federal President of Germany
Running parallel to Art Basel, the annual Swiss Art Awards exhibition, organized and conceived by the Federal Office of Culture since 1899, provides a representative overview and unique insight into contemporary art and architecture in Switzerland. It shows the works of the artists that have been invited to the second round of the Swiss Competition for Art and Architecture, and aims to encourage the cultural movers and shakers originating from Switzerland. A definitive index for art professionals and art lovers alike.