Artists framing architecture(s). A non-edited and not yet organized archive of artists' works, which include signature architectures.
Freeload. Dennis Adams
Freeload is an installation created exclusively for the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of its construction. Dennis Adams has produced a portable replica of one of the eight mirrored cruciform columns that support the Pavilion. By installing a miniature video camera in each of its ends, the artist has transformed the column into a bidirectional camera designed to record forward and rear shots of a procession through La Mina, a social housing project on the outskirts of Barcelona. The route of the procession was determined by the Plataforma d’Entitats i Veïns de La Mina, a group of community representatives, and the column was carried on the shoulders of two members from the Club de Lluita Olímpica La Mina; the local wrestling club. The procession began at the boundary between the Forum and La Mina and continued through the neighbourhood, terminating at the Rambla Camarón, the symbolic center of the community. Returned to the Pavilion and installed in front of the small pool under the silent watch of Georg Kolbe’s sculpture, the column/camera is supported horizontally on two video monitors that display the recorded footage of its journey.
Adams selected La Mina for its location within Sant Adrià de Besòs, the town where the workers lived that constructed the International Exposition of 1929, including Mies’ original Pavilion. For the artist, both the Pavilion and La Mina are architectural icons that bracket the history of Modernism, framing both its utopian promise and social reality.
Since the late 1970s, Dennis Adams’ works have framed Blindzones, within public space and architecture. In relation to Freeload, Adams explains, “By exempting Mies’ column from its function as a vertical support, I envisioned the release of all that compression as a kind of extension. Turned horizontally, it becomes a sight line free to probe the physical and symbolic limits of the Pavilion.”
The multiple screen installation and photographic series A Marvellous Entanglement (2019) traverses a collection of Lina Bo Bardi’s most iconic buildings, offering a meditation on the work and legacy of the visionary modernist architect and designer (1914–1992).
‘Linear time is a western invention; time is not linear, it is a marvellous entanglement where, at any moment, points can be chosen and solutions invented, without beginning or end.’ – Lina Bo Bardi
Focusing on Bo Bardi’s public projects instead of private edifices, the piece emphasizes her social, political and cultural views, alongside her philosophical reflections formulated in articles and letters, such as the passage above, which is central to the film.
Having filmed on location in São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), Sesc Pompeia and in the Teatro Oficina, Julien proposes an open-ended reflection on Bo Bardi’s ideas. These three buildings, widely regarded as landmarks of Brazilian modernism, stand as representative of her ground-breaking vision. Travelling further north, the work also encounters Bo Bardi’s buildings in Salvador: the Museum of Modern Art; the Coaty Restaurant and the Gregório de Mattos theatre. Starring Academy Award-nominee Fernanda Montenegro and her daughter, Cannes-laureate actor Fernanda Torres, A Marvellous Entanglement portrays Bo Bardi at different stages of her life, as the actresses interpret excerpts from the architect’s writings.
A central figure of Latin American modernist architecture, Bo Bardi devoted her working life to promoting the social and cultural potential of art, architecture and design. Exploring these themes, A Marvellous Entanglement uses the iconic staircase that she designed for the Museum of Modern Art, Bahia, as the stage upon which Julien orchestrates an original work by choreographer Zebrinha, performed by the Balé Folclórico de Bahia. The Coaty, a modern ruin perched on the Ladeira de Misericórdia in Salvador, accommodates in turn a series of performances by Brazilian art collective Araká. In close collaboration with Julien, the collective performs in situ happenings reflecting upon the significance of Bo Bardi’s seldom-accessed masterpiece for a young contemporary audience. Another leading name of Brazilian arts, the actor, director, playwright and co-founder of São Paulo’s Teatro Oficina, José Celso Martinez Corrêa (AKA Zé Celso) worked in close collaboration with Bo Bardi and is also a key presence in the film, which includes score created by the German-Spanish composer Maria de Alvear.Following the conceptual thread which Julien established in his earlier artistic investigations around portrait-making such as Ten Thousand Waves (2010), or the more recent Lessons of the Hour: Frederick Douglass (2019), Lina Bo Bardi – A Marvellous Entanglement looks at historical reparation through visual poetry, moved by the breadth and power of Bo Bardi’s work, and a profound belief that her legacy has yet to be fully acknowledged.
Kapwani Kiwanga: A wall is just a wall (and nothing more at all)
28 January - 14 May 2017
As we go about our daily lives, we enter into and are confronted by spaces designed to shape and regulate our behaviour. In A wall is just a wall (and nothing more at all), Kapwani Kiwanga explores disciplinary architecture by isolating structural traits and intended psychological effects of different built environments, such as prisons, hospitals, and mental health facilities. The exhibition title is drawn from the poem “Affirmation” by Assata Shakur, a civil rights revolutionary and former member of the Black Liberation Army, which calls for resistance against structures of inequity and the modes of segregation that exist all around us. The works in this exhibition highlight the potential for built environments to predict and affect human behaviour in the subtlest and most forceful of ways.
Two-toned paintings on panels of drywall reproduce institutional wall treatments which were based on the research of German architects Heino Schmieden and Julius Boethke, who, at the 5th International Congress on Tuberculosis (1905), proposed that oil-based paint should be applied to hospital walls at a height of 1.60m from the ground, in order to facilitate their cleansing and to improve hygiene conditions. Kiwanga’s dichromatic choice of colour here, and throughout the exhibition, reflects her ongoing research on this and similar 19th and 20th century social hygiene movements and hospital reforms, as well as the work of highly influential colour theorist Faber Birren, whose research on the behavioural effects of colour was applied broadly across commercial and institutional environments.
In 1978, Dr. Alexander Schauss discovered that exposure to the colour Baker-Miller Pink had the purported effect of reducing aggressive behavior in test subjects by lowering their heart rate, pulse, and respiration. The colour was first used for wall paint in some prison cells at the Naval Correctional Center in Seattle with the intention of calming violent inmates. In 1979, the study was replicated at the Santa Clara County Jail in San Jose; however, after inmates were placed in the painted holding cell for several hours, they had begun to scratch the paint off their walls with their fingernails. Baker-Miller Pink soon appeared in a variety of other contexts, including in locker rooms designated for visiting teams, psychiatric facilities, and public housing wards.
Recently, fluorescent blue lights have been installed in public spaces with the goal of reducing the visibility of veins, thereby discouraging intravenous drug use. Though the intention of such design decisions may be to reform or to protect, the actual outcomes can be ambiguous or even harmful. Kiwanga exposes this ambiguity by foregrounding the formal building blocks of these mechanisms, and in so doing subjects them to our scrutiny. The immersive installation pink-blue features a space split between Baker-Miller Pink paint and blue fluorescent lighting. Through confrontation with the raw materials of these disciplinary strategies, Kiwanga invites us to think about their social implications: do blue-lit bathrooms actually prevent drug use, or do these spaces simply discourage safe injection practices? And so, the question remains: do architectural attempts to control bodies and their behaviour work to counter the problems they aim to prevent, or do they merely force their relocation?
Used for discrete observation in interrogation rooms, and also found in office buildings to protect workers from the gaze of street-level passersby, one-way mirrors facilitate shifting modes of control based on one’s positionality. The window-based unidirectional gaze also appears in the architectural feature of the jalousie, a window treatment comprised of angled slats. Both of these technologies allow one to see out while remaining unseen, reflecting the dynamics of control and surveillance of disciplinary architecture.
A series of abstract prints on fabric are draped over rebar grids, another commonly used construction material. These images are based on desire paths – informal or spontaneous pathways shaped by individuals through the landscape (usually the shortest route from one point to another) – found in aerial images of historically significant sites across Calgary. These unsanctioned routes evoke the ways in which people bypass existing structures, carving out alternative routes within circumscribed spaces. Such small gestures of resistance remind us, as does the next line in Assata Shakur’s poem, that a wall “can be broken down.”
— Nabila Abdel Nabi, Assistant Curator, The Power Plant.
The exhibition Kapwani Kiwanga, A wall is just a wall (and nothing more at all) is organized and circulated by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto. The exhibition is curated by Nabila Abdel Nabi, Assistant Curator, The Power Plant. It was sponsored by TD Bank Group.
Support for the development and production of new works for the exhibition provided by Esker Foundation.