29 April 2009

Talking Heads

Bärbel Rothhaar, Apis Regina / Osmose, 2007, Installation

My friend artist Bärbel Rothhaar is currently taking part into a collective exhibition at the Georg-Kolbe Museum in Berlin, "Tierperspektiven" (animal perspectives), before travelling with her work to the Umweltbundesamt in Dessau and then to Montreal, Quebec: since many years she's especially interested in combining her own artistic pieces with a kind of unpredictable process, resulting from placing, like in this case, some small wax-heads into a beehive, letting the bees building their own cell-structures all around. No need to say that every time the results are surprisig, since considerable part of the final, unique piece is out of the artist's control.

For this site-specific installation the visitor can see this process through a glass-pane, looking directly into the beehive: even for those who cannot visit the exhibition there is a webcam streaming during all the exhibition's time.

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14 April 2009

WasAEG or Behrens in Sweden


While recently visiting the Arkitektur Museet in Stockholm, I came across a model, which at the first sight I thought was Peter Behren’s AEG Turbinenfabrik in Berlin-Moabit (actually 1 km away from where I am living). Just like Dali and other surrealists, I fell in a state of critical paranoia, believing or trying to believe something that doesn’t exist (but in one’s imagination) for about 10 seconds, before realizing with great disappointment that Behrens had nothing to do with the model I was looking at.

AEG Turbinenfabrik, images from wikipedia.com

This building actually is a covered dock in Sweden, about 150 years older than the AEG Fabrik. Here is the text accompanying the model:

Wasa Covered Dock
...The “Wasa Shed” (Wasaskjulet) was erected over stocks, so that building work on warships could continue in all winds and weathers. A series of upward-tapering pillars and a hipped roof imparted both rhythm and character, endowing the building with an intrinsic aesthetics value transcending its practical purpose.”

Location: Kariskrona
Year of construction: 1759
Materials and structure: Wall pillars of brick, mansard roof
Architect: Carl Johan Cronstedt

I haven’t the faintest clue whether Behrens knew this building (I googled, but I could’t find anything), which might be also a kind of “traditional construction” of the time, but anyhow I find this comparison highly fascinating, since both architectures were intended to be purely functional buildings, but turned out to be beautiful, monumental pieces: now the Wasaskjulet hosts sometimes performances, and the AEG Turbinenfabrik since decades is part of Germany’s architectural heritage.

Prometheus Bildarchiv, Imago, Humboldt-Universität, Kunstgeschichtliches Seminar, Berlin. By Vogt, Arnold. 1900 ca.

02 April 2009

Velvet Fence

Fence Co.
Photo by Jk***

“When one talks of mass-production houses one means, of course, the “housing scheme”. Unity in the constructional elements is a guarantee of beauty. A housing scheme affords the variety necessary for architectural composition and lends itself to design on a large scale and to real architectural rhythm. A well mapped-out scheme, constructed on a mass-production basis, can give a feeling of calm, order and neatness, and inevitably imposes discipline on the inhabitants. America has given us an example by the elimination of hedges and fences, rendered possible only by the modern feeling of respect for other people’s property which took its rise over there; such suburbs give a great sense of space; for once hedges and fences are removed, light and sunshine reign over all.”
Suburbia View 2
Photo by yan2003

I know that I will be banal, but I just couldn’t resist to comment on these lines which I went through a couple of days ago. Let’s go brainstorming now: ...America, fence, tunnels, Mexico, Tijuana, border, suburb, sprawl, gated communities, Los Angeles, Mike Davis, police, Iraq, Ford, Detroid, crisis, respect, Richard Sennett, Cabrini Green, black people, bus, woman, hamburger, cheese... (I stop because I am going too far.)

This L-C’s text reminds me the beginning of Blue Velvet by Lynch, in which you have the perfect suburban house and lawn, but the wooden fence is too white, roses too red, grass to green, people quietly gardening, the 1950’s fireman smiling as he passes by: everything larger than life. In fact, just in the adjacent vacant lot, you could find a decomposing human ear, your door to the dark, night, evil side of suburban life.