Saturday, January 22, 2011

The metaphysical countrygirl

You, functional space
variants in voltage, the only light
Transitory effect of Love
several different lights
Sustain them
you sustain them.

Omar Perez
"The Metaphysical Countrygirl" from Did You Hear About the Fighting Cat?, 2010.

Making is Thinking

Making is Thinking explores distinct artistic practices engaged with notions of conceptual craft and intuitive industry. It seeks to collapse the persistent dichotomy between the practical and the intellectual, and presents a range of works that refuse the binary of concept and form.

Among the artworks included in Making is Thinking, several recurring or overlapping areas of interest are discernible: There is a fascination with the role of the amateur, occupied with absurdly time-consuming activities that verge on meditation (Wilfrid Almendra, Dewar & Gicquel, Teppei Kaneuji, Hans Schabus). There is an analysis of the process of creation, and a transformation of this analysis into a new moment of creation (Hedwig Houben, Ane Hjort Guttu, Edgar Leciejewski). There is an exploration of sculpture and the applied arts, a struggle between functionalism and formalism that avoids any hint of nostalgia (Julia Dault, Rita McBride, Eva Rothschild). There is a flourishing of decoration and beauty in the reassessment of certain Modernist tropes (Eva Berendes, Alexandre Da Cunha). There is the avoidance of conscious thinking and the emphasis on intuitive knowledge (William J. O’Brien, Koki Tanaka). And in many of the works, there is a knowing humor or irony that deflates the pious earnestness that can accompany discussions of craft.

Artists: Wilfrid Almendra, Eva Berendes, Alexandre da Cunha, Julia Dault, Dewar & Gicquel, Ane Hjort Guttu, Hedwig Houben, Teppei Kaneuji, Edgar Leciejewski, Rita McBride, William J. O'Brien, Eva Rothschild, Hans Schabus, Koki Tanaka.

Curated by Zoe Gray, assisted by Amira Gad.

Ane Hjort Guttu, Static Dynamic Tension Force Form Counterform, 2009
C-print, 50 x 70 x 8 cm

European society has been marked by an increasing division between making and thinking that dates back to the industrial revolution. With the decline of urban guilds and rural cottage industries in the nineteenth century, and the subsequent mechanization of labor, workers were separated into blue- and white-collar jobs. Today, our education system privileges the creation of flexible “knowledge workers” over those with practical skills or manual know-how.

It is possible to trace a similar division in art since the beginning of the twentieth century. With Duchamp’s introduction of the readymade in 1913, the focus of avant-garde artistic practice shifted away from technique and the process of making to the transformative power of the artist’s vision. This saw the flourishing of conceptual art and the movement that Lucy Lippard famously labeled the dematerialization of the art object, culminating in Lawrence Weiner's 1968 Declaration of Intent in which he announced that an artwork “need not be built.” For Weiner, thinking is making. Nevertheless, today artists are still making physical artworks and engaging with tangible materials. In our increasingly dematerialized world, how are we to engage with materiality? How might thoughtful forms of this insistence on making relate to our supposedly post-industrial society?

In recent years, craft has been held up to epitomize an alternative set of social values in the face of industrial production, global capitalism and mass consumerism. Yet this idea of craft is broader than that defended by John Ruskin or William Morris at the start of the previous century. Incorporating many elements of Modernism and informed by postmodernism, it offers a radical way for rethinking questions of work, both within and beyond the artistic field. Many artists are turning to this expanded notion of craft as a paradigm for making that seems to fuse previously oppositional positions – such as the trace of the artist’s hand and conceptual reflection – and are exploring its potential for reconsidering broader questions of production.

January 23, 2011 - May 1, 2011
Witte de With, Rotterdam

Thursday, January 20, 2011



«Vers–L.C.–Contre», και σε ελληνική απόδοση «Προς-Ενάντια στον L.C.» Πρόκειται για ένα λογοπαίγνιο με τις λέξεις του Le Corbusier. Λέξεις που αφενός ο ίδιος εμβληματικά τοποθέτησε στον τίτλο του πιο γνωστού βιβλίου του (Vers une Architecture), αφετέρου χαρακτηρίζουν την πολεμική μορφή του έργου του συνολικότερα.

Το λογοπαίγνιο εμπρόθετα αναγγέλλει την πρόκληση μίας εκφοράς θέσεων με όρους τόπου, χρόνου και τρόπου, έχοντας ως σημείο εκκίνησης έναν σημαντικό αρχιτέκτονα, αλλά και ένα πρόσωπο που αποτελεί ακόμα σημείο αναφοράς για το τι είναι καταγεγραμμένο στην συνείδησή μας ως μοντέρνο. Γιατί η εμβληματική φυσιογνωμία του Le Corbusier ανήκει και ως ένα βαθμό καθορίζει ιστορικά την εποχή της γέννησης και επικράτησης του διεθνούς μοντέρνου κινήματος. Αποτελεί επίσης αφορμή για συζήτηση πάνω στους σημερινούς όρους και τα πλαίσια της μοντερνικότητας, νοούμενης ευρύτερα ως νεωτερικότητας.

Στον παρόντα τόμο τίθενται θέματα που αφορούν τον τρόπο του να κατανοεί κανείς το σήμερα προσεγγίζοντας το χθες. Με στοχαστικό, κριτικό ή και ειρωνικό ύφος, με απρόσμενες αναλογίες ή συσχετισμούς, με ζεύγη αντιθετικά ή συμπληρωματικά, προβάλλονται θέσεις που ξεκινώντας από τον Le Corbusier, τον άνθρωπο, το έργο αλλά και την εποχή, συνεχίζουν, αποτελειώνουν, ή ξανασχηματοποιούν με ποικίλους επίκαιρους τρόπους έναν τρόπο, μία σκέψη, ένα τέχνημα, ή ακόμα τα θραύσματά τους. Οι συγκεκριμένες θέσεις, μπορούν να τοποθετηθούν η μια δίπλα στην άλλη με ποικίλους τρόπους και να ταιριάξουν καλά.

Κείμενα και έργα των:
AndersonStanford/ Καλαρά Νάντια/ Τουρνικιώτης Παναγιώτης/ Κουμεντάκης Γιώργος/ Βυζοβίτη Σοφία/ Γεωργιάδης Σωκράτης/ Βλάχος Βαγγέλης/ Κοτιώνης Ζήσης/ Γιαννίσης Δημήτρης/ Σταθόπουλος Θάνος, Ψυχούλης Αλέξανδρος/ Λυκουριώτη Ίρις, Λυκουριώτη Λήδα/ Γιαννίση Φοίβη/ Βελώνης Κωστής/ Μπαμπάλου-Νουκάκη Μπούκη/ Παπακωνσταντίνου Γιώργος/ Παπαδόπουλος Λόης/ Αντωνακάκη Σουζάνα/ Αλεξίου Νίκος/ Ρότσιος Δημήτρης/ Φατσέα Ρένα/ Αντωνακάκης Δημήτρης/ Λαζαρίδης Παντελής/ Παγώνης Θάνος/ Αγγελιδάκης Ανδρέας/ Παπαδημητρίου Μαρία/ Τζιρτζιλάκης Γιώργος

Έκδοση του Τμήματος Αρχιτεκτόνων του Πανεπιστημίου Θεσσαλίας σε συνεργασία με τις εκδόσεις FUTURA
Επιμέλεια:Φοίβη Γιαννίση, Ίρις Λυκουριώτη, Ρένα Φατσέα

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Paesaggio Italiano

Luigi Ghirri, Bari,1982

Luigi Ghirri, Modena,1973

La Carte d'après Nature

The concept of the exhibition refers to Magritte's short-lived magazine, "La Carte d'après Nature". From 1952 on, and for only fourteen issues, he encompasses poetry, illustrations, short stories and other contributions, and sends them out as postcards. In a similar way, the artist Thomas Demand has selected artworks for the exhibition, which are interconnected in a poetic, associative and elegant manner from artists who all have their lines of thinking about Nature and her representations.

Rene Magritte, Jeune fille mangeant un oiseau (le plaisir),1927-Thomas Demand, Papier peint ,2010

Participants : Kudjoe Affutu, Saâdane Afif, Becky Beasley, Martin Boyce, Tacita Dean, Thomas Demand, Chris Garofalo, Luigi Ghirri, Leon Gimpel, Rodney Graham, Henrik Håkansson, Anne Holtrop, August Kotzsch, René Magritte, Robert Mallet-Stevens, Jan and Joël Martel and Ger Van Elk.

La carte d'apres Nature
18 September 2010 – 22 February 2011
Nouveau Musee National de Monaco
Villa Paloma, Monaco

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Denise Scott Brown, Queen of the Desert

Here is Denise Scott Brown, hands on hips in the desert, looking us squarely in the eye with an intensity that seems like a provocation. ‘Here I am’, she seems to be saying, ‘And what do you think of that!?’

Her hair is up though a few wisps have come free. Her sleeves are pushed up to the top of her forearms, and she stands, square shouldered, legs apart with a concentrated glee. She stands to the right of the frame, as big as a building, occupying the image with supreme confidence. Her and Vegas, sky above and desert below. She, and everything around her seems charged with a glowing energy, bristling with urgency and significance.

In the distance, the strip. Blocked out against the sky is the erect and phallic Dunes sign. There is Caesars Palace, a Denny’s and a billboard for Cutty Sark. A hotel tower, a loop of Googie.

But we’re not on the strip, we are somewhere behind the strip. We’re off grid. Apparently with no road, no car. We’re backstage from the action, removed from Vegas’s effects. The photograph places us outside, looking into the city from the edge, from a point of view where the cities only urban logic is obscured. How did we get here? How will we ever get back? The photographs strange location disorientates us. But not, to judge from her expression, Denise, who seems to know exactly why she is there.

To her left, occupying the midground, is the ruin of some kind of shack. It’s chimney stack still standing as large as the buildings in the distance. Its roof in now on the ground, sheets of corrugated iron curled like crisps. A ruin? Here in Vegas in 1968? Its strange looming presence alongside the Vegan sign-scapes suggests something intangible – a fragment of mythic or folkloric something.

Maybe Denise and Bob stood here – as opposed to just over there where you wouldn’t see the chimney – for a reason. Maybe the ruined chimney stands for old forms of settlement, for hierarchies of hearth or home, for the kind of thing that free-flowing capitalist space – of which Vegas represented an extreme example – makes impossible. Maybe this collapsed structure represents an idea of history become unstable in the shifting semiological sands of the Nevada desert. Maybe, like a momento mori, it prefigures the mortality of even this landscape of newness.

She looks like the last woman alive. Certainly the only one who could stand right there like that and handle reality in such a clear-eyed way. Scott Brown smiles with a sheen of ecstasy, as though, Yes! This is it! This moment! This rubble around me! The sun beating down and the blue sky! This half formed landscape! This nothing … might somehow contain … everything! It seems to show us Denise experiencing Vegas’s urban condition like an electric charge shooting right through her, setting her taut.

The picture defines a complete architectural position. We see it in the contrast of Scott Browns excitement and singular confidence with the weak confusion of the environment. Somehow her stance suggests hope and possibility amongst an abandoned, unplanned, ill-fated landscape. If I were the mayor of Vegas I’d build a giant, glowing, neon bright version of her, standing there just like this image. A colossal Scott Brown, lights blinking and lasers scanning like a giant cult image of the city, an Athena Parthenos for a city that most had given up hope for.

Scott Browns image has a twin. A photo of Robert Venturi in a black suit with his back to us standing in almost the same spot. Our view has shifted a little to the right. This shift in framing makes the landscape seem clearer, less random, more intentional. His body is in a kind of ironic-stiff pose, gazing towards the strip so that his body forms a black shape, a void against the bright landscape. As a photograph, it’s more arch, more composed than that of Denise. It’s funny and absurd, a Magritte-in-the-desert. It presents an appropriate Venturian perversity, a non-portrait portrait.

Denise takes Bobs picture. Bob poses, Denise clicks. Bob takes Denise’s picture, Denise poses, and Bob clicks. This is a conversation via photography. An exchange, a to-and-fro of personality. These are not ordinary portraits of architects. We should remember that while we might now read them as polemic, they are also incredibly intimate images.

Their Vegas trip took place at around the start of their relationship. And the photographs they took of each other are the kind of photographs that we would now post to Facebook – photos taken on a roadtrip with a new-ish squeeze that we upload to publicly announce whatever intensities we may have just experienced. We’d do it to somehow receive external validation for all too fragile and mysterious sensations with the hope that posting them to a semi public space them might act as vital proof and to fix them against the existential fear that we know can rise up out of nowhere and swallow the possibility of love in one gulp.

O that we might all one day experience the intensity displayed in Bob and Dens photographic diptych, that moment where everything makes sense, even the fragmented landscape of an anti-urbanism of rubble and billboards and ruins, that moment when the world opens up into kaleidoscopic possibility.

The images have been taken out of the VSBA archives as part of the ‘Las Vegas Studio’ show, currently on at the Graham Foundation. The show presents a series of photographs taken by Venturi and Scott Browns students on their research trip to Las Vegas – the raw material that later became Leaning From Las Vegas. I caught the show at Yale earlier this year. Somehow both the show and the accompanying catalogue trouble me. They are both so beautiful. Maybe too beautiful. Somehow too easy to like, especially given what the images were used for later.

Here is a fragment of a review I wrote for Frieze on the catalogue sometime last year that explains this sentiment a little more::

“What were shot as casual, off-hand, deadpan images by Robert Venturi and Denies Scoot Browns students suddenly assume a kind of high art status. They are no longer documentary images, but super-sexy images of mid century Americana. Their casual framing becomes artful. In doing this, it transforms the content of the images, delaminates them from their polemic, from the very reason they were taken. Presented here, they seem so seductive that it’s hard to think beyond their overwhelming beauty. While the book celebrates the LLV project, it has the strange effect of defusing its architectural argument. It’s not without irony that the Las Vegas Studio – itself an exercise in learning from the vulgar, popular landscape – should be revisited in such a refined, high art manner.

The value of learning from Learning From Las Vegas is not only in its own particular conclusion but also in its consequences for architecture and implications for research. This is briefly touched on in a meandering discussion between Rem Koolhass – who acknowledges the deep debt his publishing projects owe – Hans Ulrich Obrist and Peter Fischli. In other texts, editor and curator Martino Stierli sets out the context of the studios activities and Stanislaus Von Moos, a critic with a long and close relationship with the work of VSBA discusses the firms built projects. But perhaps most striking is the absence of the voice of Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi to illuminate what they were doing and how they were doing it. This absence of the mechanisms, tactics, intentions of the studio is frustrating, as is the context of the studios work within Scott Browns own sprawling personal image archive.

What we do get is a glimpse behind the curtain of a moment of significant architectural history. Here we can see a moment before the studios work became a fixed cultural point, still full of the thrill of discovery and pregnant with possibilities. It suggests we might be able to rewind architectural culture so that we might replay it to speculate on alternative presents, free from the partisan debates of previous generations.”

Whatever my misgivings, we must really thank Martino Stierli and Hilar Stadler for taking these two images out of the rickety wooden slide draws of VSBAs office and bringing them to our attention. They present us with an alternative to the canonical images of architects, planners and the city. Think of those images of Le Corbusiers hand hovering over the a model of the Ville Radieuse or Robert Moses astride an oxide-red I-Beam clutching rolls of drawings with Manhattan behind him – images of architecture as professionalised, detached and autocratic. Bob and Denise’s cute, funny and strange portraits suggest that architecture can have other kinds of relationship to the cities that surround us. That serious, important architecture might even include taking pictures of your sweetheart.

Denise Scott Brown’s desert portrait must stand as the most magnificent image of the contemporary architect. In it we see the foundation of an entirely different image of the architect as real, true humanist, an image of energy, engagement and willingness to take it all on so powerful that we should carry it around in our wallets as a reminder of everything architecture should be.

Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archives of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown is at the Graham Foundation till Feb 19, 2011. (Which you should go to if you can, because these scans really don’t do justice to these ultra-significant pictures).

Text by Sam Jacob
December 6th, 2010

Every website is a monument

Angelo Plessas, (offline monument), 2010

Angelo Plessas, (offline monument), 2010

Gloria Maria Gallery, Friday, 14 January-10 March 2011, Milan.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Farming to Defeat Town Designed Plans

Farming to Defeat Town Designed Plans, 2010, acrylic, watercolor and pieces of wood on paper, 56 x 76 cm

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Abandoned Houses

Photography by Kevin Bauman, Detroit.

Contra a Obscuridade

Against Obscurity

The gaze lets go from ripeness.
I don’t know what to do with a gaze
overflowing from a tree,
what to do with that ardour

overflowing from the mouth,
and waiting on the ground to flow back to the source.
I don’t know the destiny of light,
but whatever it may be

it is the same as that of a gaze: the same
fraternal dust,
a delayed pain gathering, the shadow,
quivering still,

of a startled skylark.

O olhar desprende-se, cai de maduro.
Não sei que fazer de um olhar
que sobeja na árvore,
que fazer desse ardor

que sobra na boca,
no chão aguarda subir à nascente.
Não sei que destino é o da luz,
mas seja qual for

é o mesmo do olhar: há nele
uma poeira fraterna,
uma dor retardada, alguma sombra
fremente ainda

de calhandra assustada.

Eugénio de Andrade, 1988.
Publisher: Fundação Eugénio de Andrade, Oporto, 1993.


Caroline May, Untitled (Cactus I), 2010, color photograph, 39 x 39”.

Caroline May, Untitled (Cactus II), 2010, color photograph, 39 x 39”

The Apartment Gallery, Athens
November 10 - January 8, 2011