Posts Tagged 'architecture'

Antonio Scarponi nominated for the Curry Stone Design Prize

Point of view is proud to announce that one of its members, Antonio Scarponi, has been nominated for the prestigious Curry Stone Design Prize.

The Curry Stone Design Prize is awarded every year to breakthrough design solutions with the power and potential to improve our lives and the world we live in. The Curry Stone Design Prize recognizes exceptional, emerging design innovations that contribute to the vitality of the world community”.
– from the Curry Stone Design Prize website.

Antonio’s practice takes place at the intersection between contemporary art, design, architecture and social engagement. Intertwining these discourses creates a framework that enables him to engage in the sheer complexity of the societal issues his work deals with. It renders Antonio an independent position where he can situate a critical and “subversive” practice of imagination.

Since 2004 Antonio has been working – in collaboration with Stefano Massa, Federico Pedrini and Antonio De Luca – on the Dreaming Wall project, a public space installation originally designed for Milan. It’s a green-coloured UV light sensitive wall that turns white when light falls on it. At night it displays text messages send by phone, or submitted on the Internet. A computer controlled UV laser beamer projects these text messages that last for fifteen minutes on the wall and then dissolve again. The project is a hacking of public space; it drifts away from the functionality of everyday life and creates what Antonio refers to as “the sub consciousness of a city asleep”.

On a personal level we enjoy working with Antonio, who has a beautiful mind, and a critical and passionate attitude that brings energy and innovative ideas into our collaboration.

Congratulations!

Read Antonio Scarponi’s posts on Point of view here and visit his website here
Read an article Antonio recently wrote about his “RIKEA” project.
The Curry Stone Design Prize.
And read their article on Antonio’s practice here.

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Made In Sweden

Trial and Error, Stockholm –– On a recent journey we visited two well-known Asian landmarks: The Chinese Dragon Gate and the Royal Thai Pavilion, both located in remote places in Sweden.

Dragon Gate
The Chinese businessman Jingchun Li discovered a run down road tavern in Älvkarleby north of Stockholm in 2004. Because of the good energy of the area, he bought land and began to build a Dragon Gate – a gate to happiness and wealth according to Chinese tradition.
This Dragon Gate will be a center for Swedish-Chinese financial relations and Mr. Li has invested 15 billion € in the project. The center includes a restaurant, a 300 square meters kung fu school, 200 terra cotta warriors, a hotel with 56 rooms individually designed inspired by the 56 provinces in China and much more.

All the building material, machines, workers, masseurs and others have been shipped from China. This has met some troubles, since Sweden is a very regulated country. One example is that in China, doors open inwards to welcome people, but in Sweden they should open outwards, in case of a fire. But despite clashes like this, the center will finally open this fall. And in the future, Mr. Li wants to import live pandas and build the largest Buddha in the world.


The Thai Pavilion

In 1868 King Chulalongkorn ascended the throne in Siam. He was, and still is, very loved since he introduced modern laws, including abolishing slavery. According to one story, a Swedish sailor in Bangkok saved one of his children, despite the threat of a death sentence for anyone who touched a member of the Royal family. Grateful for this deed, the king wanted to visit the sailor’s village in Ragunda. Another story is that he simply accepted an invitation by the Swedish king Oskar II. Anyway, he came to Sweden in 1868 and chose to travel north to study the forest industry. People everywhere honored King Chulalongkorn and his vast company, the roads was decorated and in Utanede, in Ragunda Municipality a road was named after him.

In 1992, a traveling Thai folk dancing group visited Utanede. The road named after their former king fascinated them, and things were set in motion. In 1994 a committee for Swedish and Thai interests was formed and in 1997 they began to build the only Royal Pavilion outside Thailand. The ground was blessed by monks from Thailand and ten billion € made the pavilion possible.

When we visited, carps swam in the pond, Thai people came to pray, orchids was grown from Swedish birch trees in the green house, pop versions of traditional Thai music filled the air, a light summer rain trickled down and we loved it. Much thanks to the energetic guided tour led by the project manager Ulf Edström, who also told us about his bold future plans.

Asia grows, maybe not geographically but influentially and in Sweden local initiatives have outrun Stockholm in the competition for important international connections. In Ragunda the question is: Will the Swedish prime minister Reinfeldt cancel his vacation to welcome the Thai prime minister, who will visit July 19, to celebrate the Day of King Chulalongkorn?

Official website Thai Pavilion: www.swethai.com
Official website Dragon Gate: www.dragongate.se
An earlier post on China: povblog.wordpress.com/2007/05/29/the-art-space-race/

How to move a city

Martijn van Berkum, Rotterdam – – To whom it concerns: Icsid (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design) is organizing in partnership with the Swedish Industrial Design Foundation (SVID) and the community of Gellivare, the City move interdesign workshop dealing with the relocation and moving of people and societies.

The workshop will take place in the Northern part of Sweden and concerns the fact that heavy mining is threatening small cities to sink away. The workshop will deal with sustainability, urban planning issues, but also aims at exploring community practices. There’s an open call for architects, urban planners, artists, designers etc; application period closes the 31st of July.

Underneath a beautiful video of the moving of the Swedish mining town of Malmberget:

From motorcycles to 3,5 million pieces of art

A collaborative post from Marja Salaspuro*, Amsterdam and Sergio Davila, Amsterdam.

Can classical conservative museum structure keep its historically layered architecture, rooms, collections and objects – and still attract the interest of the modern visitors, mainstream tourists and experience seeking travelers? A philosophical reconsideration around purpose of the museums at our era and the architect’s role as a curator are linked to architect Rem Koolhaas’ plan for the next expansion of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Politics and economics are essential forces influencing in Museum architecture, also to the extent of shaping what kind of ‘art’ will be displayed. Every redevelopment project adds a layer on top of the history whether it will be rebranding process of a city through Guggenheim franchising (such as in Bilbao) or creating structures enabling mass tourism experiences such as in Louvre or in MoMA.

 Cue at the MOMA

Architecture as curatorial strategy

The field of architecture is not only defining human shelters anymore, architecture is about understanding culture, history, and even understanding future scenarios. The dematerialization of architecture is a fact, besides the virtual tools to experience a space, architecture, as in design is a field that is exploring more its faculty to define strategies, processes, models; and it is defining topology with human relationships instead of steel and concrete. Mr. Koolhaas expressed his interest in explore the architect’s role in designing a curatorial strategy. As it is seen among commissions and competitions, leading international architecture offices have established their own research think thanks’ analyzing historical links behind museum structures. For example Rem Koolhaas presented his own AMO think thank in a lecture as a part of Holland Festival programme for the fully booked Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ. Honestly, the lecture was very inspiring and gave us a better perspective about the museums of our time.

Motorcycles and copy-pasting classics

From the economic point of view art can be defined as a luxury commodity, ‘an experience’ tied to the ‘judgments’ of the institutional and commercial art establishment. Following that logic, museum is the place where mass audiences ‘experience’ the greatest ‘luxury commodities’, those that patrons or experts of the nations have been collecting to be remembered by next generations.

The museum architecture defines physical structure for the ‘art experience’ whether it will be white walls made for paintings, black rooms for video projectors or for example a huge entrance hall such as in Tate Modern which allows to perceive art as a spatial experience.  

In some leading museums, the experience with the luxury product is separated from the exhibition. Stylish bookshops, unique restaurants and impressive buildings are sometimes enough for satisfying the hunger for an aesthetic experience. Guggenheim for example has built its success by franchising an architectural monuments offering leisure activities linked to the middle class vacation (like in Bilbao or in Las Vegas).

The architectural strategy for combining new and old was, for example in Guggenheim Las Vegas something different than in more classical art institutions. Architect Rem Koolhaas covered 125-by-70-foot ceiling of the Guggenheim Las Vegas with a likeness of Michelangelo’s Sixtine Chapel’s while the exhibition itself showed 130 motorcycles from the late 19th century to the present (originally displayed at the Guggenheim in New York in 1998). The theme of copy-pasting is linked to be apart of the architectural theme recycling, just like similar recycling processes are ongoing in the fields of music, film and design. 

Intellectual approach to Hermitage St. Petersburg

In St Petersburg, the historical plaza of revolution in front of the Hermitage Museum already serves as an ice-skating ring, as the our current era encourages leisure activities. Just to be clear, this blog post is not about the battle of taste and/or quality, but rather introduce the role of an architect as curator of the exhibition spaces, and therefore influential creator of the art experience.

For example the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg has 1200 rooms. This spatial fact will influence the visiting experience. The next expansion will add to the complex 800 rooms more. Rem Koolhaas has done a plan for this expansion based on to idea to combine all historical layers without falling to a total Hermi-kitsch.

With the historical layers, architectural plan is representing three drastic societal changes in Russia from tsarism to communism and most recently towards commercialism. Just like the Russian society, one of the worlds’ biggest art collections and its show room, the Hermitage, has been put together by adding new layers on top of each other expressing the values of the ruling power.

The first structure followed aesthetics of Versailles Palace and praised the enlightened monarchs and the taste of majestic Catherine the Great. After revolution the Winter Palace and the surrounding buildings were declared as the state museum. During the Second World War some rooms have even been serving temporarily as hospital for wounded soldiers.

The next contemporary layer which Rem Koolhaas AMO think thanks has been working on includes inspirational, one might say curatorial and philosophical approach: ”The task at hand is to find those changes that will allow the Hermitage in a discreet way, without being too manifest, to function better.” AMO 2008

We like the idea. The architect himself concentrates on customer experience and structures help in assembling huge crowds, keeping the connection to the history of Russia. For the audience the experience can be customized, some rooms can be left for motorcycles. After wondering through endless halls with priceless art from Paleolithic to contemporary, there might also be possibility for ice-skating in front of the Winter Palace. I guess this is our time.

*Marja Salaspuro is MA in Arts Management student from Sibelius Academy Helsinki and she is devoted to follow inspiring approaches evolving in contemporary debates around museum and art as institutions.

 

Alma Löw: Art in the woods

Trial and Error, Stockholm – Alma Löw is a private initiative, run by artist Marc Broos in the countryside in the western part of Sweden. It started ten years ago when Broos built 16 pavillions in the slopes by his home and began to invite artists.

Entrance to the pavillions

Without economical support from the region he still can’t offer the participants any compensation. But artists keep coming because of the ambition and energy level:  Annika von Hauswolf, Gilbert and George, Leif Elggren, Nathalie Djurberg , just to mention a few. And as an artist you get something that, at least not I am used to: You are not called to any meetings and you are not required to write or explain anything, because Broos only wants you to do one thing: Show us your art! 

Some of the 16 pavillions

This summer is the 10th anniversary and 30 artists have been invited. Artists Jörgen Svensson and Anna Persson have curated the 16 pavillions and Marc Broos the 10 rooms in the new art hall “Paleis Oranjestraat” (named after the street where he was born). 

Paleis Oranjestraat was built because, in an article, Marc Broos was called “King of his domain” and he thought that as King, he should have a palace. He bought a barn close by, rebuilt it into a maze of showrooms. There are also a seminar room, a workshop and, in the future, residencies for visiting artists.

Some interior views

If you travel in Sweden this summer to experience picturesque countryside and art, you don’t want to miss Alma Löw, which has got both. And if the weather happens to be bad, Marc Broos always provides the visitors with rubber boots.

Read more (in Swedish): VF NWT, DN, Konsten.net

Empire: a reconstruction

Empire State Building […] It’s the nearest thing to heaven
Deborah Kerr in “An affair to remember”

Martijn van Berkum, Rotterdam — A couple of months ago the City Art Museum in Amsterdam showed an overview of Andy Warhol’s work. I was thrilled to see my favourite Warhol for the first time: Empire. It reminded me of a haunting story the Swedish artist Christian Andersson once told me.

Andy Warhol filmed the Empire State Building on a summer night in 1964 from the 41st floor of the Rockefeller Foundation, which is just a couple of blocks away. The film is an 8-hour static shot of the building. Nothing happens and after 7 hours foreplay, Empire rises to a climax when the building’s floodlights, which highlight the top, are switched on.

According to Andersson the original view had been blocked for several decades by, yes, the World Trade Center. Therefore, the destruction of the Twin Towers not only re-established the Empire State Building as tallest building in New York, it also re-enabled the original view of Warhol’s Empire.

I’ve never been to New York, so my suspicious mind needed proof. Unfortunately, in reality it seems to be the other way around and the Empire State Building was blocking the view on the former World Trade Centre instead. The Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building and the World Trade Centre are exactly aligned, kind of like the ‘voie triomphale’ (the triumphant view) of Paris, the axis of the Louvre, the Arche de Triomphe and the Arche de la Défence.


Nevertheless, the comparison between the 9-11 attacks and Warhol’s Empire kept following me and remains interesting I think. Both deal with the symbolic power of a New York / American monument. Al Quaeda attacked it; Warhol celebrated it. Or does he not? It’s always difficult to say what Warhol’s intensions were, for any of his works for that matter. His inscrutable character and incomprehensive statements completely obscure any reading of his work, at least with regards to his own intentions. Of course, we can draw some conclusions from the title. ‘Empire’ tentatively points out the imperial nature of global economy, ‘a universal order that excepts no boundaries or limits’ (from ‘Empire’ by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt).

An earlier version of Empire provides some more clues about the intentions of Warhol. It included a voice recording of a conversation between Warhol and Henry Romney, owner of the Rockefeller Foundation, who is complaining about the use of marihuana by Warhol’s associates and is utterly displeased and riddled by the film. The conversation holds one charming and poetic statement by Warhol (about the floodlights going on at night):
It’s so beautiful. The lights come on and the stars come out […] It’s like Flash Gordon riding into space.
Yet, the one that went into history is a description that leaves no doubt about Warhol’s true feelings towards the building:
It’s an 8-hour hard-on

When I started to dig further into the histories of the Empire State Building and the World Trade Centre it turned out that they share more similarities. Oddly enough, the Empire State Building has also suffered a plane crash. In the early morning of July 28th 1945 an army B25 bomber got lost in the thick morning fog and pierced into the 70th floor of the building, which, ironically, housed the Catholic War Relief Office. The pilots and 11 employees of the War Relief Office were killed. But there was also one survivor. A woman, trapped in the elevator, fell down 75 floors and survived. And that’s not the only miracle the building has witnessed. It accounts for 34 suicides, two of which failed when these unhappy ‘happy few’ were blown back on the building by strong wind.

Empire’s notorious reputation has also reached the virtual world. When I was mapping out the World Trade Centre, the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Center, I discovered that Empire doesn’t only reign in the sky over New York, it has also conquered the cities’ cyber ‘space’ in Google Earth. The 3D feature in the program enables you to construct a 3-dimensional image of the city and I was able to re-enact Warhol’s masterpiece in today’s cyber space. Underneath you see the view that Warhol had approximately from the Rockefeller Center. ‘Empire’ was filmed with a telelens and unfortunately Google Earth isn’t advanced enough to recreate that view, yet… I would guess that pretty soon we won’t need the real world anymore to make such great art.
I have a gut feeling that Andy would have loved it.

Invisible cities


Describing Endora is like dancing without music
– Gilbert Grape

Martijn van Berkum, Rotterdam — Yesterday evening I dusted off the video case of What’s eating Gilbert Grape. In the opening sequence the protagonist, the young man Gilbert Grape, tries to describe the small town he is living in: ‘a place where nothing much ever happens’. Despite the absence of music, the quote above could have a very positive reading: Endora as fine place to dance, slowly and in silence.


Today I’m in the train to Venlo, a small town where my parents live. On the way I pass a little village, Deurne. The train stops at a non-existing station consisting of one concrete platform, a ticket machine and an abandoned gas station – the ‘S’ fell off the sign: ES O – and I realise that I may be in love with Endora.

Venlo, for sure, is one of the reason for that. Or rather, the surrounding villages, the town itself is just a little bit too big and actually does have music: the Splinter, my old hang-out where, during my teenage years, I would head bang my long hair on angry music of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and other grunge noise (barely ‘dancing’ now I come to think of it). No, in Venlo I miss one essential quality of the small town: the ability to look through the in between spaces of houses and see crop lands, fields or forest.

That is a particular quality you could find in Ganzedijk, a tiny small town in the north of the Netherlands which was saved last week from being wiped off the map, or, as politicians rhetorically labeled it, ‘returned to nature’. In an interview one of the 15o inhabitants describes how over time facilities gradually disappeared: the public phone booth, the mailbox and the rain shelter at the bus stop. Semi-public companies had slowly turned down the volume until the music had disappeared altogether. Ganzedijk had slipped into non-existence from the eyes of the ever-expanding urban centres.


The Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg discussed this process of dissapearance in his project ‘Invisible cities’ which consists, among other works, out of a beautiful series of photographs of houses in which Dahlberg took out all windows and doors. His invisible cities are numb, deaf, anonymous and generic. They beautifully describe how such towns can become exchangeable.

Nevertheless, the works lack one quality which makes small towns such wonderful, peaceful places to be at: his invisible cities are lifeless, they lack dancing without music.


Recent articles

“Veiling the unveiled truth”: the conceptual art of Silvio Berlusconi
Published August 3, 2008 by Antonio Scarponi

We all know that the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is a man of talents. First of all he is a man of spectacle, a perfect actor from the old school. He is able to dance, sing and his practical jokes are famous world wide [...] We all know these skills, but recently in two occasion he demonstrated also to have great talent as conceptual artist.
...
Made in Sweden
Published July 9, 2008 by Trial and error

On a recent journey we visited two well-known Asian landmarks: The Chinese Dragon Gate and the Royal Thai Pavilion, both located in remote places in Sweden.
...
From motorcycles to 3,5 million pieces of art
Published July 3, 2008, 2008 by Marja Salaspuro and Sergio Davila

Can classical conservative museum structure keep its historically layered architecture, rooms, collections and objects – and still attract the interest of the modern visitors, mainstream tourists and experience seeking travelers? A philosophical reconsideration around the purpose of museums in our era and the architect’s role as a curator.
...

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