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Zaha Hadid, Frasca (detail), 2002-present

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Architecture Now
September 20 - October 3, 2006

As the current Venice Biennale of Architecture demonstrates, contemporary architects love to blur the boundaries of their field, often turning to installation and photography in order to address complex topics like urbanism. We interview the editor-in-chief of Domus, Stefano Boeri, about his collaborative installations that explore political spaces, and we highlight the work of Polish artist Monika Sosnowska, who twists institutional architecture into sculptural mazes. Spain is proving fertile ground for the built form, and we discuss the handful of starchitects who are transforming the Rioja region into a design destination. Meanwhile, in reviews, we cover the architecturally inspired painter Kevin Appel and the mischievous sculptor Ian Burns.

  Meet the world, one person at a time. Discovery Channel presents a new series that shows you the world as you've never seen it — through the fascinating stories of its people. Experience 30 countries over the next five years. "China Revealed" premieres Sunday, October 1st at 9pm E/P.

Ground Zero Plan Remains Problematic
(New York Times, September 11)
Recently revealed designs for three new glass towers to be built by Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and Fumihiko Maki at New York's Ground Zero have drawn middling praise from critics. The Times' Nicolai Ouroussoff described the plans as "solid, competent work" by top-tier architects "capable of far more." Others have hailed the proposed structures as "promising," but "Libeskind Lite," referring to Daniel Libeskind's now-abandoned 2002 site plan. The buildings, which are scheduled for completion by 2012, will join David Childs' Freedom Tower and Santiago Calatrava's transportation hub in reshaping the Manhattan skyline.

LA Weekly Unveils Second Biennial
(LA Weekly, September 6)
Los Angeles' alt weekly didn't really have plans to stage another biennial so soon. Even considering the success of the paper's first "annual" biennial in 2005, which featured the work of UCLA MFA students Elliott Hundley and Brenna Youngblood, there were no plans in place for a 2006 edition. But the work coming out of the UCLA program, as well as from other local art programs at USC, CalArts, Art Center, Otis College of Art and Design, Cal State Long Beach, and Claremont Graduate University, proved too strong to ignore. As a result, 23 still-in-school artists will be showing at State of Emergence 2006: MFA WMDs, on display at Track 16 Gallery through October 13.

Charles Saatchi's Next Moves
(Guardian, September 6)
Britain's Guardian nabbed an exclusive interview with notoriously press-shy ad-executive-turned-art-world-magnate Charles Saatchi. He spoke about the website he started last year, featuring work for sale by over 10,000 artists, the new gallery he hopes will open next June with a show of contemporary Chinese art, and his life as one of the world's foremost collectors of art. The man who made the careers of many British artists in the '90s has of late turned his attentions to the US. In October, London's Royal Academy will host an exhibition, USA Today, which will feature recent Saatchi purchases by stateside artists such as Josephine Meckseper, Dana Schutz, and Barnaby Furnas.

Guerilla Artist Making Subversive Marks
(BBC News, September 11)
Prankster artist Banksy managed to hit Disneyland and Paris in consecutive weeks. His latest stunt involved placing a life-size effigy of a Guantanamo Bay detainee — complete with orange jumpsuit and black hood — inside the California theme park's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride. The figure remained in place for an hour and a half before it was removed. A week earlier, Banksy placed 500 doctored copies of Paris Hilton's new album in UK stores. The CDs featured Banksy's own remixes of Hilton tracks, adding song titles such as "Why Am I Famous?," while sporting album art of the socialite naked or with a dog's head. The scandalous discs are currently fetching more than $550 on eBay. To top off his busy month, Banksy antagonized animal rights activists by painting a live elephant red as part of a "three-day vandalized warehouse extravaganza" in Los Angeles.

Charity to give $50,000 awards to individual artists more »

Singapore opens first biennial more »

Cincinnati Art Center director resigns abruptly more »

Astronaut who walked on the moon turns to painting more »

Survey of postwar British art draws criticism more »

Pompidou assumes responsibility for fallen artwork more »

Artist regains paintings worth $1.5 million that fell from roof rack more »

Pelli's new concert hall criticized as too genteel more »

Rocky statue moves back (or at least closer) to the Philadelphia Museum of Art more »

New book on Frank Lloyd Wright views architect's life as a "soap opera" more »

Aeron chair designer Bill Stumpf dies at 70 more »

Note: Some online publications require registration to access the articles. If you encounter a registration screen, try akreader1 as the username and password.

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[ New Architecture in Rioja ]


Santiago Calatrava / Frank Gehry / Ignacio Quemada / Zaha Hadid

After decades of struggling under Francisco Franco's oppressive rule, Spain is currently enjoying a cultural and economic renaissance unrivaled by most of Europe. In the mid-'90s, we witnessed the awakening of the sleepy port city of Bilbao as Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum turned it into a mecca for art and architecture lovers. Now the Bilbao effect has spread slightly south to Rioja, one of the richest wine-producing areas of Spain. The starchitectural branding, which made the Guggenheim Bilbao a global attraction, is being applied to some of Rioja's oldest and most respected bodegas, as wineries are locally known.

Commissioned shortly after the completion of Gehry's marvel, Bodegas Ysios in Laguardia was designed by Santiago Calatrava, for Domecq Bodegas, which owns a number of vineyards throughout the country. The expansive agricultural complex was built at a minimal cost, yet strikingly exhibits Calatrava's playfulness with its undulating silver roof and cathedral-like, pinewood interior. Displaying a similarly minimal but more industrial aesthetic, Bodegas Baigorri in Samaniego, designed by Iñaki Aspiazu Iza, is dominated by a massive glass pavilion atop a scenic peak; the winery then descends toward the vineyards, providing the optimal gravity flow for winemaking as well as water recycling.

Bodegas Juan Alcorta in Logroño, another Domecq Bodegas enterprise, was designed by Ignacio Quemada and includes a large complex of textured concrete buildings on a 400-acre site. The craggy exterior of the winery blends with the earthy terrain, while the interior is constructed with a variety of wood, colored concrete, and wine-toned walls, forming a zen-like environment. Equally contemplative, though somewhat edgier and more intimate, is Zaha Hadid's addition to the revered Bodegas R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia in Haro. Hadid's avant-garde pavilion — shaped like a stylish decanter parked in a cantilevered carport — provides a tasting room and visitors center while enclosing an ornate exhibition kiosk from the 1910 Brussels World's Fair.

Coming full circle, the most anticipated project in Rioja is Frank Gehry's hotel, restaurant, and spa complex for Marqués de Riscal in Elciego. Riffing on the Guggenheim Bilbao, as well as his other recent buildings, Gehry's latest Spanish project sports an explosive exterior of colored titanium inspired by elements of the Marqués de Riscal wine bottles. Meanwhile, his sublime interiors frame views of the surrounding environment, balancing contemporary flair with appreciation for the region's natural beauty. (PL)

The recent exhibition and publication, On-Site: New Architecture in Spain, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York highlight several new Spanish architectural projects while Wine by Design, published by Wiley, is an excellent guide to winery architecture worldwide.

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Nam June Paik: Bye Bye, Nam June Paik

Now through October 9

  Watari-um honors Nam June Paik's passing earlier this year with a viewing of Paik's works from its private collection. The exhibition focuses on massive multimedia installations, including homages to two of Paik's colleagues. Beuys, a giant figure constructed from vintage wooden TV sets, wears a trademark felt hat and stands watch over a stuffed coyote, referencing Joseph Beuys' notorious 1974 "America" action. Forest of Cage — Revelation of Forest pins 20 monitors featuring interview footage of John Cage onto the branches of potted trees. Eurasian Way combines daily products from Soviet-era Central Asia with 14 monitors showing footage of nomad tribes, reflecting the breadth of Paik's cosmopolitan sensibility. Ephemera and other materials round out the show. (AM)

Cosmic Wonder
San Francisco

Yerba Buena Center for Contemporary Art
Now through November 5

  Cosmic Wonder explores contemporary representations of alternative reality through an amusing interplay of ingenuous whimsy and technical sophistication. Ara Peterson and Jim Drain's Large Video Kaleidoscope, an actual two-foot-tall kaleidoscopic tunnel, replicates your torso at thousands of angles with the flickering pattern of a TV screen's white noise. Elsewhere, Jose Alvarez refines natural materials including wood, feathers, and minerals into polished panels depicting linear patterns adorned by bursts of psychedelic swirls. Richard Misrach's large monochromatic photographs of skyscapes incorporate viewers' reflections in their mirror-like, varnished surfaces. Reed Anderson's stunningly detailed circular paper cutout, highlighted with acrylic paint to create dimensionality and thumbtacked to the wall, shows two parting birds amid starry surroundings. (BS)

Kevin Appel

Wilkinson Gallery
Now through October 7

  Los Angeles-based painter Kevin Appel's latest series of large-scale mixed-media canvases have their way with pictorial space and perspective, turning the architecture of the family home into explosive jigsaw puzzles. Complex, meticulously drawn patterns combine patchworks of blue, pink, and patterned textile-like surfaces with linear representations of wood grains in black, white, and warm tones. The components of these precariously balanced jumbles are instantly recognizable, so the initial images are easily reconstructed. Ultimately, the works are not about formal acrobatics; instead, they express architecture as a situation in which the artificial and the organic coexist, with art as their negotiator. (SND)

Kevin Appel has a concurrent show of new paintings at Angles Gallery, Los Angeles.

Katrín Sigurdardóttir

FRAC Bourgogne
Now through October 28

  Challenging the pastoral tradition, Icelandic artist Katrín Sigurdardóttir builds sculptural representations of landscapes that thwart escapist tendencies. This museum solo show consists of two large, disconcerting installations. Blocking entrance to the main gallery is a towering black-and-white photograph of the Grand Canyon, cobbled together from eight jagged prints on plywood panels. The second piece, around the side of the museum, is a polygonal, mountain-like enclosure whose mirrored window looks onto a small duplicate. From within the enclosure, viewers discover that the objects reflect each other. By disrupting her imagery with evidence of process and diverting movement through the gallery space, Sigurdardóttir denies conventional viewing of the picturesque, catalyzing a more acute and complex perception of landscape. (BR)

Katrín Sigurdardóttir's first solo project in New York opens at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City on October 29.

Ian Burns

hilger contemporary
Now through September 30

  Ian Burns was probably an expert diorama-maker in grade school. As this exhibition of ten kinetic sculptures shows, his stage design method owes much to rudimentary scenery techniques. Three-dimensional mechanisms constructed from everyday materials, their gears visible, provide the content for silhouetted scenarios cast by projection bulbs onto translucent panels. Burns' dramas strip down global TV phenomena like the World Cup, Baywatch, and war reportage into minimally iconic, animated parodies. Holiday Weekend — Clean it up uses wind power generated by an electric fan to animate an off-kilter interpretation of Abu Ghraib-style atrocities. Burns asks viewers to watch these media moments more closely, exposing the created spectacle behind contemporary consciousness. (JK)

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[ Monika Sosnowska ]

Monika Sosnowska

Employing the methods and vision of an architect, Polish artist Monika Sosnowska designs spaces befitting dreams or fiction. Trained as a painter at the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Sosnowska abandoned her work on canvas while attending the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Hiring contractors to fabricate her structures, she began replicating the perfunctory forms of institutional architecture. For MANIFESTA 4, Sosnowska created Untitled (2002), a series of small, white corridors connected by doors to form a labyrinth of identical rooms. At the Serpentine Gallery in London and the Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd in Glasgow, she installed large, earthy brown structures with confounding but navigable interiors. In 2005, she switched to a more sinister black form, which she snaked through the rooms of the Galerie Gisela Capitain in Cologne. Marked by menacing, glossy colors, these environments recall the disorienting postmodern forms of Zaha Hadid and Daniel Libeskind and evoke the nightmarish effects of Kafka's bureaucratic mazes.

Metaphors for states of consciousness, Sosnowska's works have the eerie perfection of the unreal. Commissioned by New York's Museum of Modern Art Projects series, Sosnowska's The Hole (2006) is a stark room with a low ceiling punctured by a jagged hole, with shards from the ceiling lying on the floor. The pieces of debris are perfect polygonal forms, revealing that the scenario is a simulation, similar to a 3-D rendering or a Thomas Demand photograph. Eschewing the practical optimism of conventional architecture, Sosnowska's installations venture into the dystopia of the virtual. (HGM)

Monika Sosnowska's work is currently on view at the Sprengel Museum in Hannover until September 24, and at MoMA through November 27. The artist has an upcoming solo show at the Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd in Glasgow in 2007.

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[ Stefano Boeri ]


Boeri Studio / Multiplicity / Armin Linke / Boeri Studio

Bryony Roberts interviews Stefano Boeri, architect and editor-in-chief of Domus, about his recent projects and Domus' participation in the Venice Biennale of Architecture. Boeri runs the design firm Boeri Studio and founded Multiplicity, an interdisciplinary research group that explores issues of urban transformation.
AK: Last year, you created quite a stir with your Ryugyong Hotel project, which is on display at the Venice Biennale of Architecture. By invitation of the North Korean Architectural Academy, you were able to observe the unusual architecture and urban planning of Pyongyang, North Korea. After publishing a controversial account of your trip in Domus, you launched a theoretical design competition for the unfinished Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang. Can you describe the visual and symbolic importance of the hotel to the city and your motivation for holding the competition?

SB: The Ryugyong Hotel is the mother of all Pyongyang's urban giants. Built on a hill in preparation for the 1989 Youth Games, 330 meters tall — the tallest building in the world at that time — with a Y-shaped base, lifts on its sloping sides, and several rings of revolving restaurants at the top, it was destined to house a 105-story international hotel with 3,000 rooms and become the symbol of the city. But its construction was never completed, perhaps because of erroneous reinforced-concrete calculations or, more simply, because financing ran out after the Berlin Wall collapsed.

Today, the Ryugyong Hotel pyramid is a huge carcass of riddled concrete — a visionary metropolitan sculpture visible all over the city, the indication of a failed thirst for power. One year ago, Domus decided to grasp the opportunity of Pyongyang's involuntary and spectacular aperture to the world, launching a call for architectural and geopolitical ideas to rethink Pyongyang's immense concrete pyramid.

AK: How does this project fit into Domus' mission as a publication and a curatorial force?

SB: I believe that the act of observing, describing, and interpreting the built environment helps us understand the community we inhabit. And I believe that the landscape — the territory continually defined by our movements, reinvented by our desires, punctuated by what we build — is an excellent metaphor for our society. The local is a treasure chest rich in details and clues that tell us about the forces that permeate our daily lives, forces that at times are manifest in the space that surrounds us, perhaps just for a few instants, like footsteps in the snow. Architecture's political dimension is not to be found in the labels we attach to our projects, nor in our magniloquent political declarations; rather, it lies in the production of useful and critical knowledge about the world that surrounds us — knowledge that is useful because it is critical.

We traveled to Pyongyang, and we described, without feeling the need for ideological proclamations, a city invented and realized all at once by a dictator and his staff of architects; a city punctuated by immense, semi-abandoned monuments that revolve around a gigantic ruin (the Ryugyong Hotel), symbol and consequence of the failure of a regime trying, perhaps, to escape from its suicidal isolation.

keep reading the interview »

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  Oscar Niemeyer Houses
Alan Weintraub and Alan Hess

An undisputed leader in the Brazilian modernist architectural movement, 98-year-old Oscar Niemeyer is best known for his dynamic designs for cities such as Brasília and public buildings including the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum. Other than his House at Canoas in Rio de Janeiro, which is now open to the public, Niemeyer's private homes are not widely known or discussed, but this coffee table tome aims to right the record. Architect and critic Alan Hess provides a brief overview of Niemeyer's history and then delves into an in-depth analysis of his residences, ranging from an unbuilt 1936 project to a 2005 home for his granddaughter. Alan Weintraub's seductive photographs of select Niemeyer houses in current states of habitation dominate the rest of the book. Masterworks of poured concrete and expansive glass merge with the lush Brazilian landscape, as all but two of the Pritzker Prize winner's inventive dwellings are sited in his homeland. (PL)

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Cover Art
Zaha Hadid
Frasca, 2002-present
Bodegas R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, Haro, Spain
Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects, London/ R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia, Haro
Photo: Pepe Franco
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster

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Bryony Roberts

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Jennifer Y. Chen
Shana Nys Dambrot
Jocelyn K. Glei
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Doug Levy
Mark Mangan
Marlyne Sahakian
Peter Stepek

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H.G. Masters
Briana Smith

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Artkrush is a twice-monthly email magazine, featuring current news, people, and events in the international art community. All stories and links are pure editorial, never paid advertisements.

In addition to this twice-monthly digest of the visual arts, Flavorpill also publishes nine other email magazines, covering NEWS, BOOKS, MUSIC, FASHION, and cultural events in five cities — NEW YORK, LOS ANGELES, SAN FRANCISCO, CHICAGO, and LONDON.

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