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.
© 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.
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
Images: Bioplarch,starch-based bioplastic as construction material by Esen Gökçe Özdamar, Ahmet Bal, Schermin Schentürk / Hidden Park, Kosmos Architects / Tempio di Minerva. Sonic Impression or Architecture as Instrument”, FAKT Architects in collaboration with MAXXI
“Design is invisible”, wrote sociologist Lucius Burckhardt almost 40 years ago. Design doesn’t merely apply to objects, graphics, user interfaces or spaces, but also refers to social processes and complex systems. Democracy is one such a system: it is not a given, but rather a structured process. The 5th edition of the exhibition series Design Display examines how design and democracy intersect in order to effect change in society. On the basis of two different democratic processes, the exhibition presents a spectrum of creative possibilities: from hands-on participation in urban development to new digital technologies that can fundamentally alter the face of democracy. On one side of the two-fold exhibition, the Hamburg-based group PlanBude focuses on promoting public participation in city planning and explores how design can become more inclusive. Shaping and implementing participatory processes is a crucial step to ensuring democracy isn’t just a formal act, but a vital part of everyday life. This means giving voice to those not normally consulted during the stages of development. Architects and city planners are made aware of the residents’ knowledge, desires, and needs, so that site-specific features can be incorporated into their designs. PlanBude advocates moving beyond designing for the people toward designing with the people. The second element of the exhibition turns to the digital world and, in particular, the innovative technology of blockchains and its various applications within the infinite World Wide Web. Blockchains store information in small units, in blocks that aren’t stored on one, but on many different servers connected to each other. This form of storage is extremely secure against hacking and manipulation and thus utilizable for democratic processes. Among other things, this new technology makes it conceivable to cast secret ballots on the Internet, to make management transparent, or to provide tools that promote direct democracy or economic autonomy. Across the world, blockchain solutions are prompting administrative processes to become more transparent and citizens to get involved more directly.
In 2017, the Swiss Design Competition celebrates its 100th edition. Since then, the promotion has pursued two objectives: on the one hand, direct economic support, which gives designers a boost from prototype to production that pays into the quality and the reputation of Swiss design. On the other hand, it allows an indirect freedom, financially and temporarily, that enables the designers to create new and extraordinary solutions to be worked out and tested. In the exhibition Swiss Design Awards, around 50 works from designers in the fields of graphic design, photography, fashion and textile, products, scenography and mediation are presented to a broad public.
clockwise from top: Star Apartments, Los Angeles. Michael Maltzan Architecture, Los Angeles, 2014 © Gabor Ekecs // Le Corbusier, Unité d‘Habitation // Moriyama House, Tokyo. Office of Ryue Nishizawa, Tokyo, 2005 © Dean Kaufman // Swmming pool in the basement of Sargfabrik, Wien BKK-2, Vienna, 1992–96 © Hertha Hurnaus // Songpa Micro-Housing, Seoul, 2014 Jinhee Park/SsD, New York/Seoul. © SsD
Housing is scarce – that much has become evident in the last few years. As real estate prices in big cities continue to skyrocket, conventional ideas of housing development prove unable to meet demands. The reaction to these challenges has been a silent revolution in contemporary architecture towards collective building and living. Using models, films, and walk-in displays, Vitra Design Museum’s exhibition Together! The New Architecture of the Collective addresses this global phenomenon by presenting a broad array of collective projects from Europe, Asia, and the United States. An overview of historical precedents for the current wave of collectives demonstrates that the idea has been a recurring theme in the history of architecture, from the reformist ideas of the nineteenth century to the hippies and squatters of the twentieth, who touted the slogan “Make love, not lofts”.
Refuting the idea of linear time, the 10th-century Arab thinkers of Kalam theorised the radical freedom of every single ‘now’. For the sake of God’s creative freedom, they demanded the dissociation of the present moment from the chains of cause and effect, and their ancient theories of ‘cut-up’ give rise to Fragments From Our Beautiful Future. Contemporary Interventions in The Bumiller Collection #3. The exhibition presents the work of Jerusalem-born Steve Labella and Berlin-based Rebecca Raue in a constellation with ancient chess pieces and Persian mirrors from the Bumiller Collection, dating from the 11th to the 17th century. In his series 38 Days of Re-Collection, Sabella imprints black & white photographs upon colored shards of paint, peeled off the walls of houses in the Old City of Jerusalem. Resembling ancient artifacts, the fifteen fragments present a unique archive of personal and collective memory, of home and displacement. Raue’s Kalila wa Dimna series uses acryl and mixed media to intervene in 18th-century illuminated manuscripts printed on aluminum composite panels. A dense layer of commentary is created on the colourful illustrations, and the artist develops a visual language that draws inspiration from the Lettrist appeal of the underlying Arabic texts.
top work by Steve Sabella / bottom works by Rebecca Raue
Switzerland’s Federal Office of Culture soon presents the seventeenth Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim to three outstanding Swiss culture practitioners: conceptual artist Daniela Keiser works with the media of photography and language, which she translates into different exhibition and presentation formats. Peter Märkli’s architecture, teachings and drawings are widely recognised and particularly valued by the younger generation of architects. The author and curator Philip Ursprung is honored for his cross-disciplinary research in history, art and architecture. The Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim was founded in 2001 by the Federal Office of Culture in collaboration with the Federal Art Commission. It honors figures from the worlds of art and architecture as well as criticism, curation and research whose work is of particular relevance and importance for contemporary art and architecture in Switzerland and beyond. The laureates, and this year’s winners of the Swiss Art Awards, will receive their accolades on June 12th, 2017, in Basel. The exhibition SWISS ART AWARDS, which showcases the participants in the second round of the Swiss Art Competition, also includes film portraits of the Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim 2017 recipients.
left: Daniela Keiser, Out of the Blue (1998/2016) Installation Nr. 10. Installation view Kunsthalle Vebikus, Schaffhausen (2016). Courtesy of the artist and STAMPA Galerie, Basel © Daniela Keiser. Photo: Daniela Keiser // middle: Peter Märkli’s La Congiunta, Giornico 1992. Photo: Heinrich Helfenstein // right: Cover of the new book by Philip Ursprung ‘Der Wert der Oberfläche – Essays zu Architektur, Kunst und Ökonomie’. gta Verlag, 2017. // Portraits by Katalin Deér / BAK, 2017.