A visual voyage reveals the rarely seen inner universe of the religious schools of Shi’ite Islam over hundreds of years, through an harmonious coalition of both recent photographs and historic records. When Naser al-Din Shah travelled to Iraq in the late 1800s, he brought back a fascinating collection of photos depicting not only the Shi’ite holy places, but also antiquities and scenes from contemporary life. Hitherto unpublished, these photographs reveal a cultural wealth that today seems more threatened than ever before. “Insight” seeks to create an awareness for the cultural diversity of the region. These photographs document the continuity of Shi’ite Islam as well as the losses and dramatic changes that have taken place since. Alongside those, Hans Georg Berger’s recent photographs bring a different look on the topic. Intimate portraits and discrete observations of sacred ritual are borne from a stance of respect and curiosity. No other western photographer has delved as deeply into this enigmatic world. Years of listening and trying to comprehend have established the necessary mutual trust to capture the many layers of faith and daily life. The accompanying book published by Kehrer Verlag extends the focus of the exhibition with written contributions on Berger’s approach, on teaching methods at the religious academies, and on the calligraphy which was added to some of the photographs.
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.
Across the world there has been a shared desire to bring the vision of the Bauhaus up to date, but every attempt to revive it is doomed to failure since it was both a forward-looking project and a child of its time. projekt bauhaus critically examines the ideas of the Bauhaus by using its own methods. It will seek to expose the internal contradictions of the Western idea of progress and discuss alternative approaches. The Bauhaus sought a synthesis of knowledge in which the various forms of knowledge—technical, scientific, emotional, creative—would be interconnected. This concept of knowledge was combined with a new pedagogy to emancipate the people, release their potential, and ultimately lead to the creation of a “new man.” As 2019 will mark the centenary of the founding of the Bauhaus, a one-day symposium hosted at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin will bring together great thinkers to address questions of progress and renewal pertinent to our times: Which spaces encourage creativity and innovation? Which sites of knowledge does society need today? And essentially, do advanced laboratories of computer, internet and media companies represent the Bauhaus of the twenty-first century?
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.
An unusual bank building in the centre of Germany, designed by architect Hans Kollhoff in the late 1990s, has been converted into a depot for art and valuables. Seemingly monolithic on one side with its heavy sandstone facade, the mammoth structure flows into an unexpected openness and even relaxedness on the other side. This stems from the enormous glass window designed by Swiss artist Helmut Federle, as well as the interior courtyard covered by a glass roof that, though impregnable, comes across as a light element. Austere calm emitted from the exterior coalesces with a certain domestic atmosphere imparted by an array of rooms inside. There’s a distinct feel for aesthetics and art, and since the new tenants belong to the latter category rather than the monetary world, a harmonizing balance occurs. ZentralDepot offers a safe home to artworks within a climate-controlled setting combining unprecedented security and exceptional design. It goes to indicate that the one does not have to eliminate the other.
Irving Norman, M.F.I. Complex, 1981 © Crocker Art Museum Association, Sacramento; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY / Lene Berg, Stalin by Picasso or Portrait of Woman with Moustache, 2008. Courtesy the artist / HKW image by Sebastian Bolesch
After the Second World War, the battle of the systems also involved the arts and culture in a symbolic arms race. One prominent example was the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), an organization founded in West Berlin to consolidate an “anti-totalitarian” intellectual community. The CCF subsidized countless cultural programs from Latin America to Africa and Southeast Asia, developing a network of journals, conferences, and exhibitions that advanced a “universal” language of modernism in literature, art, and music. By 1967, a major scandal erupted: the CCF was secretly bankrolled by the CIA as a form of propaganda to support an anti-Communist consensus in favor of U.S. hegemony. The exhibition Parapolitics: Cultural Freedom and the Cold War is devoted to the global dimension of cultural politics in that era and to the changing meanings attributed to modernism. The artworks and archival materials on show explore the friction between the political instrumentalization of art and artists’ struggle for autonomy. It’s thoroughly illustrated how modernism became a signifier for individual freedom and was tantamount to establishing Western cultural hegemony in the 20th century. Thus, the CCF is in a way returning to its 10-year-anniversary location, Berlin’s former Congress Hall, today’s Haus der Kulturen der Welt.
© 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: Thomas Meyer – Ostkreuz / big image: Gonzalez Haase AAS
Tucked away snugly between two adjacent buildings, vGGG is a housing cooperative project consisting of three residential units with a “house-inside-a-house” character. Starting from the outside, the building’s location is crucial to its aesthetic qualities. Ohmstrasse, a landmark-protected street, is something of an inner-city island or haven of sorts: its existing structures date back to the “founding era” of Berlin, yet it is surrounded by wasteland, industrial plants and highrises. Its historic provenance, however, makes the addition of modernist-inspired architecture a challenge, due to strict regulations. To resolve this creatively, Gonzalez Haase’s design approach disregards the outside appearance of a building shell and therefore vGGG is conceived from the inside out. The building reacts to its environment on a more complex level, which can only be experienced when one encounters the architecture from within. Inside, one thing is instantly evident: the prevailing feature is the abundance of light entering from every possible direction. From the size and placement of windows, to shortened walls and connective openings between floors, it’s all about unobstructed views and allowing natural brightness to penetrate the rooms. Thus, the industrial charm of the neighbouring horizon steps into the sphere of the private. In turn, the house morphs into a threshold between entirely contrasting urban landscapes. For Gonzalez Haase, conforming to regulations and framework conditions shapes architecture, and can ultimately generate beauty — and in this case lead to a refreshing take on reducing things to their core.
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.
Architecture is not necessarily an activity whose sole purpose is construction, but rather a field for intellectual research and speculation that encompasses an arsenal of numerous disciplines. The emerging generation of the most talented architects and urban professionals in Europe joined forces during the Future Architecture Festival in Ljubljana organized by the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO). The purpose? To break down walls. Not just physical walls, but also those of imaginary, professional and ideological nature. Through critical approach, architecture is perceived as a means to address the most pressing social and political issues of our times. Essentially, the common aim of all the ideas taking part in the festival is to observe, analyze and change the world we live in. Some of the stimulating topics discussed included James Taylor Foster’s (archdaily) lecture and panel discussion “What is Attention Economy? Why Should I Care?” which unpicked the designed intention behind social sharing and the state of the Internet in 2017 – a reality both fascinating and disconcerting in equal measure. Focusing on future materials, Esen Gökçe Özdamar presented the Bioplarch workshop which proposed new bio-degradable plastic made out of edible components and how it can be realistically used and widely applied in industries and daily life. Of course, one of the fervent topics throughout the whole festival was the reclamation of public space and strengthening communal initiatives. Among others, Kosmos Architects proposed to turn Basel’s underground river into a linear botanical garden, open for the public year-round.
Bureau N’s involvement
As a member of the Future Architecture Platform, Bureau N was invited to host a talk during the festival. We decided to focus on a common thread between our field of expertise — cultural communications — and the overarching theme of architecture. It was quickly obvious that the shared ground we were after was storytelling. Within our practice, stories are an indispensable device that helps us convey messages, if not the underlying protagonist of all our projects. Giving shape to narratives that others can empathize with, or are curious to explore further, is the bedrock of every worthwhile creative project seeking to transmit information that’s understood by more than one person in a powerful manner. In this case here, taking storytelling as a point of departure, we aimed to touch upon the relationship between architecture and narrative, and how space can be perceived through that particular scope. Our talk, entitled “Tales Only Architecture Can Tell” was joined by two theorists and two practitioners: futurist Ludwig Engel whose work deals with urban utopias and future cities; Victor Cano Ciborro of the architectural collective and radical research group Arquitectura Subalterna; scientist and researcher Ana Jeinic who engages in how architecture will adapt to post-futuristic states of culture; and Adrianna Pablos Llona who questions borders, nations and monolithic disciplines. All presented lectures and workshops will be soon available online on videolectures.net