Monday, July 26, 2010

Governance by Everyone

Metahaven, Stadtstaat – Sozialstaat (Governance by Everyone), 2009, Poster 120x180 cm, screenprint courtesy Metahaven, Kunstlerhaus Stuttgart, and Casco Utrecht.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Pontus Hultén Study Gallery at Moderna Museet. Based on an idea by Renzo Piano.

The cover of the folder that accompanied the Moderna Museet exhibition, showing a working drawing itemizing the interior of Hon playrooms, curated by Pontus Hulten.

Visitors to the Hon exhibition at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, 1966.

Source :

The Original Copy

Bruce Nauman. Waxing Hot, from the portfolio Eleven Color Photographs. 1966–67/1970/2007. Inkjet print (originally chromogenic color print), 19 15/16 x 19 15/16" (50.6 x 50.6 cm).

The Original Copy presents a critical examination of the intersections between photography and sculpture, exploring how the one medium has been implicated in the analysis and creative redefinition of the other. The exhibition is organized by Roxana Marcoci, Curator, Department of Photography.

The advent of photography in 1839, when aesthetic experience was firmly rooted in Romanticist tenets of originality, brought into focus the critical role that the copy plays in the perception of art. But if the photograph's reproducibility challenged the aura attributed to the original, it also reflected a very personal form of perception and offered a model for dissemination that would transform the entire nature of art.

In his 1947 book Le Musée imaginaire, novelist and politician André Malraux famously advocated for a pancultural "museum without walls," postulating that art history, and the history of sculpture in particular, had become "the history of that which can be photographed." Sculpture was among the first subjects to be treated in photography. There were many reasons for this, including the immobility of sculpture, which suited the long exposure times needed with the early photographic processes, and the desire to document, collect, publicize, and circulate objects that were not always portable. Through crop, focus, angle of view, degree of close-up, and lighting, as well as through ex post facto techniques of darkroom manipulation, collage, montage, and assemblage, photographers have not only interpreted sculpture but created stunning reinventions of it.

The Original Copy looks at the ways in which photography at once informs and challenges our understanding of what sculpture is. Conceived around ten conceptual modules, the exhibition examines the rich historical legacy of photography and the aesthetic shifts that have taken place in the medium over the last 170 years through a superb selection of 300 pictures by more than 100 artists. Some, ranging from Eugène Atget and Walker Evans to Lee Friedlander and David Goldblatt, are best known as photographers; others such as Auguste Rodin, Constantin Brancusi and David Smith, are best known as sculptors; and others, ranging from Hannah Höch and Sophie Taeuber-Arp, to contemporaries such as Bruce Nauman, Fischli/Weiss, Rachel Harrison, and Cyprien Gaillard, are too various to categorize but exemplify how fruitfully and unpredictably photography and sculpture have combined.

Sibylle Bergemann. Das Denkmal, East Berlin (The Monument, East Berlin). 1986. Gelatin silver print, 19 11/16 x 23 5/8" (50 x 60 cm).

The exhibition will travel to Kunsthaus Zürich, where it will be on view from February 25 through May 15, 2011.
The Original Copy:
Photography of Sculpture,
1839 to Today
August 1 – November 1, 2010
The Museum of Modern Art, NY

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Landscape with huge granite boulder formations around Volax village in Tinos Island, Greece. 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vila Hermina

Vila Hermina
since 2008 in construction
authors Petr Hajek, Tomas Hradecny, Jan Sepka

The building is situated on a sloping terrain on the outskirts of Cernin, taking the same slope into its internals for floors. The interior layout is based on alternating straight and sloping floor surfaces that create the overall spiralling character of the interior and define the building’s external appearance. However, the use of the sloping floor on the ground floor is not purposeless – it is there on investor/s reguest to accomodate movie projections as a small movie theatre. Windows and other openings are placed with respect of the external facade – each of the walls only has one opening. For thermal and water insulation a polyurethane spray with pink coat is used, meant as a credit to our favourite building of Versuchsanstalt fur Wasserbau und Schiffbau by Ludwig Leo.


Die Alpen

Jahr/Year 1930 Die Alpen - The Alps

Oberammergauer Holzschnitzerwerkstatt
Alois Lang
Christusdarsteller der Passionsspiele 1930

Wood-Carver's Workshop in Oberammergau
Alois Lang, the Representator of Christ in the Passion's Play 1930

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

In the late 1950s, three men who identified as the Son of God were forced to live together in a mental hospital. What happened?

In the late 1950s, psychologist Milton Rokeach was gripped by an eccentric plan. He gathered three psychiatric patients, each with the delusion that they were Jesus Christ, to live together for two years in Ypsilanti State Hospital to see if their beliefs would change. The early meetings were stormy. "You oughta worship me, I'll tell you that!" one of the Christs yelled. "I will not worship you! You're a creature! You better live your own life and wake up to the facts!" another snapped back. "No two men are Jesus Christs. … I am the Good Lord!" the third interjected, barely concealing his anger.

Frustrated by psychology's focus on what he considered to be peripheral beliefs, like political opinions and social attitudes, Rokeach wanted to probe the limits of identity. He had been intrigued by stories of Secret Service agents who felt they had lost contact with their original identities, and wondered if a man's sense of self might be challenged in a controlled setting. Unusually for a psychologist, he found his answer in the Bible. There is only one Son of God, says the good book, so anyone who believed himself to be Jesus would suffer a psychological affront by the very existence of another like him. This was the revelation that led Rokeach to orchestrate his meeting of the Messiahs and document their encounter in the extraordinary (and out-of-print) book from 1964, The Three Christs of Ypsilanti.

Although by no means common, Christ conventions have an unexpectedly long history. In his commentary to Cesare Beccaria's essay "Crimes and Punishments," Voltaire recounted the tale of the "unfortunate madman" Simon Morin who was burnt at the stake in 1663 for claiming to be Jesus. Unfortunate it seems, because Morin was originally committed to a madhouse where he met another who claimed to be God the Father, and "was so struck with the folly of his companion that he acknowledged his own, and appeared, for a time, to have recovered his senses." The lucid period did not last, however, and it seems the authorities lost patience with his blasphemy. Another account of a meeting of the Messiahs comes from Sidney Rosen's book My Voice Will Go With You: The Teaching Tales of Milton H. Erickson. The renowned psychiatrist apparently set two delusional Christs in his ward arguing only for one to gain insight into his madness, miraculously, after seeing something of himself in his companion. ("I'm saying the same things as that crazy fool is saying," said one of the patients. "That must mean I'm crazy too.")
These tales are surprising because delusions, in the medical sense, are not simply a case of being mistaken. They are considered to be pathological beliefs, reflecting a warped or broken understanding that is not, by definition, amenable to being reshaped by reality. One of most striking examples is the Cotard delusion, under which a patient believes she is dead; surely there can be no clearer demonstration that simple and constant contradiction offers no lasting remedy. Rokeach, aware of this, did not expect a miraculous cure. Instead, he was drawing a parallel between the baseless nature of delusion and the flimsy foundations we use to construct our own identities. If tomorrow everyone treats me as if I have an electronic device in my head, there are ways and means I could use to demonstrate they are wrong and establish the facts of the matter—a visit to the hospital perhaps. But what if everyone treats me as if my core self were fundamentally different than I believed it to be? Let's say they thought I was an undercover agent—what could I show them to prove otherwise? From my perspective, the best evidence is the strength of my conviction. My belief is my identity.

In one sense, Rokeach's book reflects a remarkably humane approach for its era. We are asked to see ourselves in the psychiatric patients, at a time when such people were regularly locked away and treated as incomprehensible objects of pity rather than individuals worthy of empathy. Rokeach's constant attempts to explain the delusions as understandable reactions to life events require us to accept that the Christs have not "lost contact" with reality, even if their interpretations are more than a little uncommon.

But the book makes for starkly uncomfortable reading as it recounts how the researchers blithely and unethically manipulated the lives of Leon, Joseph, and Clyde in the service of academic curiosity. In one of the most bizarre sections, the researchers begin colluding with the men's delusions in a deceptive attempt to change their beliefs from within their own frame of reference. The youngest patient, Leon, starts receiving letters from the character he believes to be his wife, "Madame Yeti Woman," in which she professes her love and suggests minor changes to his routine. Then Joseph, a French Canadian native, starts receiving faked letters from the hospital boss advising certain changes in routine that might benefit his recovery. Despite an initially engaging correspondence, both the delusional spouse and the illusory boss begin to challenge the Christs' beliefs more than is comfortable, and contact is quickly broken off.

In fact, very little seems to shift the identities of the self-appointed Messiahs. They debate, argue, at one point come to blows, but show few signs that their beliefs have become any less intense. Only Leon seems to waver, eventually asking to be addressed as "Dr Righteous Idealed Dung" instead of his previous moniker of "Dr Domino dominorum et Rex rexarum, Simplis Christianus Puer Mentalis Doctor, reincarnation of Jesus Christ of Nazareth." Rokeach interprets this more as an attempt to avoid conflict than a reflection of any genuine identity change. The Christs explain one another's claims to divinity in predictably idiosyncratic ways: Clyde, an elderly gentleman, declares that his companions are, in fact, dead, and that it is the "machines" inside them that produce their false claims, while the other two explain the contradiction by noting that their companions are "crazy" or "duped" or that they don't really mean what they say.

In hindsight, the Three Christs study looks less like a promising experiment than the absurd plan of a psychologist who suffered the triumph of passion over good sense. The men's delusions barely shifted over the two years, and from an academic perspective, Rokeach did not make any grand discoveries concerning the psychology of identity and belief. Instead, his conclusions revolve around the personal lives of three particular (and particularly unfortunate) men. He falls back—rather meekly, perhaps—on the Freudian suggestion that their delusions were sparked by confusion over sexual identity, and attempts to end on a flourish by noting that we all "seek ways to live with one another in peace," even in the face of the most fundamental disagreements. As for the ethics of the study, Rokeach eventually realized its manipulative nature and apologized in an afterword to the 1984 edition: "I really had no right, even in the name of science, to play God and interfere round the clock with their daily lives."

Although we take little from it scientifically, the book remains a rare and eccentric journey into the madness of not three, but four men in an asylum. It is, in that sense, an unexpected tribute to human folly, and one that works best as a meditation on our own misplaced self-confidence. Whether scientist or psychiatric patient, we assume others are more likely to be biased or misled than we are, and we take for granted that our own beliefs are based on sound reasoning and observation. This may be the nearest we can get to revelation—the understanding that our most cherished beliefs could be wrong.

Text by Vaughan Bell

Source :

Monday, July 12, 2010

Affiche pour un droit inaliénable à l'IVG

Affiche pour un droit inaliénable à l'IVG
Source :

Friday, July 9, 2010

Civitas Veri

In Paris, in 1609, the printers Ambroise and Jérôme Drouart published a volume entitled Civitas Veri sive Morum (‘The City of Truth; or, Ethics’) on behalf of the recently-deceased Alphonse (or Alfonso) Del Bene (or Delbene: ca. 1538-1608), who had been bishop of Albi. The book comprised an allegorical, philosophical poem in Latin written by Alphonse’s uncle Barthélémy (or Bartolomeo) Del Bene (1515-1595), with a commentary and notes by the humanist scholar Théodore Marcile (1548-1617). Marcile’s introduction bears the date 1585, and it is likely that Del Bene’s verse was written earlier still, at some time in the 1560s, or early 1570s.

The text is illustrated by a few dozen curious engravings: it is not known whether versions of these images adorned Del Bene’s or Marcile’s manuscripts, or whether they were added later by the Drouarts. The decorated title-page was designed by a Dutch-born engraver named Thomas de Leu, so it is quite possible the remainder of the engravings were his work too; although Mario Praz, in mentioning Civitas Veri in his ‘Studies in Seventeenth-Century Literature,’ likens them to the emblems in Jan David’s Veridicus Christianus, which were apparently executed by Théodore Galle.

Del Bene’s poem is an allegorical recasting of Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics. It describes a month-long spiritual journey undertaken by his patroness, Marguerite, Duchess of Savoy, who travels through the City of Truth, from its five portals (one for each of the senses: see, for example, the portals of smell and taste, in the details above) through its various palaces, gardens, etc., to the five temples at its heart, culminating in visits to the Temple of Intelligence (where she meets and converses with Aristotle himself) and the Temple of Wisdom.

Del Bene’s City of Truth is presented as both a microcosm, and as an idealised locale, after the fashion of Thomas More’s Utopia and Kaspar Stiblin’s De Eudæmonensium Republica; and anticipating aspects of later works such as Johann Valentin Andreae’s Christianopolis,, Tommaso Campanella’s Civitas Sole, (‘City of the Sun’) and Bacon’s New Atlantis. The image above shows a detail of an elevated view of the City of Truth in its totality, which I spliced together from a pair of engravings on facing pages of the book.

I learned of the existence of Del Bene’s opus by way of an eye-catching engraving reproduced in John Manning’s book The Emblem: this was the depiction of ‘The Palace of Intemperance’—part of which is shown in the detail immediately above, wherein ‘Intemperance sits in a myrtle grove […] where she is regaled by Cupid and Bacchus. She spurns Right Reason under her naked foot. Before her are prepared three tables: one consecrated to Gluttony, the next to cures for her inevitable hangover, the last is furnished with incitements to Lust… An open grave lies at the foot of the plate.’ This was opposed to the altogether more seemly ‘Palace of Temperance’ as detailed in the first of two the images above.

The poem’s protagonist, Marguerite de France (or Marguerite de Valois), Duchesse de Berry, afterwards Duchesse de Savoie, 1523-74, was the youngest daughter of king François I., and sister to King Henri II. She was intellectually accomplished; conversant in Latin, Greek and Italian; and a defender at court of the Pleiade poets, in particular of Pierre de Ronsard. Praised as a new Minerva, she was seen as a successor to her aunt & namesake, Marguerite de Navarre (or Marguerite d’Angoulême), renowned author of the Heptameron.

Del Bene had entered Marguerite’s service as her secretary in 1554. Five years later, when, at the unusually late age of 36, she was married to Emmanuel-Philibert, Duc de Savoie, he moved with her to the ducal court at Turin. After Marguerite’s death, De Bene returned to the court of Henri III. of France, and was thereafter ‘charged several times with confidential missions for Emmanuel-Philibert and Catherine de Médicis’ (Henri’s mother). Besides his Civitas Veri, he wrote other Latin and Italian poetry, well-esteemed in his day.

The images above are details of scans from a reprint edition of Civitas Veri published in 2003 by Librissimo / Phénix Éditions, apparently exclusively distributed by

Source : Giornale Nuovo,

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Parallel Universe

At that time Superman was known as extremely friendly.
He would greet politely at the breakfast table,
pass the sugar when asked
and enjoy the breaktaking panorama.
He would play old music when making decisions
and afterwards phone his mother.

Until the night the windows of his birthplace were smashed
his balloon face hung like a boy's dream
throughout the town.
He asked: take pity on my situation,
but had to wave his fists
to keep people's attention.

He became The Great Absentee. He would sneak in
and sit on the back row of theatres
and roar for another encore, or grin for minutes on end
at women in the lift via mirrors
and bide his time.

He has done marvels by leaning forward
at unguarded moments
and whispering something into an ear,
by adding moustaches to unknown people's photos
in the scrapbooks he took with him to auditions.

He could actually fly. Whenever he felt bored
he simply rented a couple of comic films.

Alfred Schaffer
Translation: 2004, John Irons

Het evenwijdig universum

In die tijd stond Superman bekend als uiterst vriendelijk.
Aan de ontbijttafel groette hij beleefd,
gaf desgewenst de suiker door
en genoot van het adembenemende panorama.
Hij speelde oude muziek als hij besluiten maakte
en belde daarna zijn moeder.

Tot de nacht dat de ramen van zijn geboortehuis werden ingegooid
hing zijn ballongezicht als in een jongensdroom
door de hele stad.
Hij vroeg: heb medelijden met mijn situatie,
maar moest met zijn vuist zwaaien
om de aandacht vast te houden.

Hij werd De Grote Afwezige. In het geniep
zat hij op de achterste rij van theaters
en brulde om nog een toegift, of grijnsde minutenlang
naar vrouwen in de lift via spiegels
en wachtte zijn kansen af.

Wonderen heeft hij verricht door op onbewaakte momenten
voorover te buigen
en iets in een oor te fluisteren,
door snorren te tekenen op foto's van onbekenden
in de plakboeken die hij meenam naar audities.

Hij kon werkelijk vliegen. Wanneer hij zich verveelde
huurde hij doodgewoon een paar lachfilms.

2002, Alfred Schaffer
From: Dwaalgasten
Publisher: Thomas Rap, Amsterdam, 2002

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Usine occupée

Usine occupée
201 x 32 x 85 cm
Wood, acrylic, varnish

iMarx Manifesto

The factory workers of Foxconn in China being forced to the edge of suicide will take little comfort from this, and it's certainly not what Karl Marx had in mind when he said the bourgeoisie creates its own gravediggers.

However, Apple's decision to free distribute free copies of The Communist Manifesto to millions of iPhone owners seems a curious twist as the firm now makes $5.7 billion in profits on annual turnover of $36.5 billion by exploiting cheap, ununionised workers in China.

Owners of the iPhone with the latest iOS4 can download iBooks without charge - allowing them to download the Communist Manifesto for free. The world's best selling political publication can be copied, pasted, highlighted and annotated.

The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844 by Friedrich Engels, Marx's sponsor, editor and closest associate - is also available for free. Marx's The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte and Selected Essays are also free, along with selected extracts of Das Capital.

Lenin's State and Revolution has also gone on sale at £9.49 while the only Trotsky publication is An Appeal to the Toiling, Oppressed and Exhausted People's of Europe - a timely launch of the ebook - at £4.49. It would be interesting to know if this edition is available in China


Vanity Fairs

Shanghai Expo 2010 is the most recent incarnation of the Great Exhibitions that began in London in 1851

Bjarke Ingels Group, The Danish Pavilion for the Shanghai Expo, 2010
Douglas Murphy

A writer based in London, UK. He blogs at His first book, The Architecture of Failure (Zer0 Books) is forthcoming.

The Shanghai Expo marks the strange return to prominence of what had seemed to be a dead architectural tradition. Expos, or, as they were originally called, Great Exhibitions, Expositions Universelles or World Fairs, were huge temporary pageants dedicated to the notion of progress, but the last few generations have witnessed their slow decline into near insignificance. They have been the source of a great many of our most memorable architectural images, which is remarkable considering their highly ephemeral nature.

The very first world exhibition was the ‘Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Continents’, held in London in 1851. It was organized, in the words of Prince Albert, ‘to give us a true test and a living picture of the point of development at which the whole of mankind has arrived’. The exhibition building, the Crystal Palace, was a gigantic crystalline web of mass-produced iron and glass, a vast display cabinet containing over 100,000 exhibits, ranging from industrial machinery to raw materials, from fabrics to furniture. More than six million people visited the exhibition in six months; it was one of the most significant early moments in mass culture.

On the one hand the Great Exhibition was a way of symbolically demonstrating Britain’s lead in the industrial race, but at the same time it was an event that was born from ruling-class anxieties about insurgency; conceived in the wake of the failed European revolutions of 1848 and the Chartists revolt, the Exhibition was partly designed to promote class harmony through distraction. Many opposed it on the grounds that it was a target for revolutionaries, but not only did the red hordes fail to materialize, the exhibition united the clashing aristocracy and bourgeoisie behind the banner of free trade, inaugurating a new regime of spectacular capitalism – Walter Benjamin wrote that at the Great Exhibition, ‘the masses, barred from consuming, learned empathy with exchange value’. At the same time, however, revolutionaries would see in the Crystal Palace a symbol of the future just society.

Both Paris and New York would hold their own exhibitions within the following five years, and they would soon be repeated the world over. The iron and glass architecture that accommodated these events reached its apotheosis at the 1889 Paris Exposition with the construction of the Galerie des Machines (the world’s largest room) and the Eiffel Tower, which was and would remain the world’s tallest structure for the next 40 years. But the revolutionary architecture of the exhibitions was soon subjected to a bourgeois aesthetic reaction – the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition was entirely draped in beaux-arts frippery, prompting American Modernist architect Louis Sullivan to exclaim: ‘The damage wrought by the World’s Fair will last for half a century from its date, if not longer.’

Despite the wider rejection of the aesthetics heralded by the early Exhibitions, the Expos themselves were still opportunities to display the most modern styles. The 1900 Paris Exposition marked the brief flowering of Art Nouveau, still visible in the ironwork of Hector Guimard’s Métro stations, while early streams of Modernism were also prominently visible. Le Corbusier’s Pavilion de l’Esprit Nouveau was included in the 1925 Paris Exposition, along with the incredible Soviet Pavilion by Konstantin Melnikov, while Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s seminal Barcelona Pavilion was the German Pavilion for the 1929 World Exhibition held in the Spanish city.

Although they were inextricably linked to ‘progress’, the Expos could also be scenes of tragic regression. There is hardly a more poignant architectural image than that of the 1937 Paris Exposition, postcards of which show the ghastly kitsch of Albert Speer’s German Pavilion and Boris Iofan’s Soviet Pavilion practically head-butting each other across the Champs de Mars, as the Eiffel Tower looks down sadly, its Utopia in peril. At the same Expo, in the Republican Spanish Pavilion, Picasso’s Guernica (1937) was hung for the first time.

After World War ii, the Great Exhibitions never attained the same level of cultural prominence that they had before; the immaterial qualities of both electronic media and atomic science did not lend themselves to large-scale spectacles of this type. Nevertheless Expos would continue, occasionally still creating seminal works of architecture; Le Corbusier and Iannis Xenakis’ Philips Pavilion from the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, for example, was a unique, immersive audio-visual environment without equal. Generally however the tendency was that of decline, with some Expo sites even turning into futuristic ruins. The sight of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome from Montreal 1967 transformed into an overgrown skeleton after a fire in 1976, or mvrdv’s now dilapidated Dutch Pavilion from Hannover 2000, is uncanny; the disappearance of something that hadn’t had a chance to properly arrive.

The cultures that the Expos gave original spatial form to are now so ubiquitous as to be almost invisible; both vast shopping malls and super-museums (supermarkets of culture) are typologies that were first accommodated in Great Exhibition buildings. With this in mind the Shanghai Expo seems anachronistic, an old fashioned spectacle of a kind that no longer has purpose – the presentation-as-new of old space. But this is strangely appropriate: the architecture of the Shanghai Expo, its individualism and flamboyance, is eclectic in a way that is almost Victorian in its stylistic incoherence.

Text by Douglas Murphy
Source :