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Acconci Studio, A Skate Park that Glides over the Land & Drops into the Sea, San Juan, PR (detail), 2004-06

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Design Triennial
March 7-20, 2007

From the vast fields of graphic art, fashion, architecture, furniture, and robotics, New York's Cooper-Hewitt selects the best creations from the last three years for its Design Triennial. Surveying the show, we break down the overriding themes, from digitally generated forms to the growing DIY movement. Standout participants include Kidrobot, an unconventional toy company producing oddball figures, and Speak Up, a graphic design website fostering an opinionated forum for ideas. We interview Cameron Sinclair, the director of Architecture for Humanity, about the nonprofit's responses to global emergencies, and we cover shows of experimental projects around the world, including Hachiya Kazuhiko's flying machine and Eva and Franco Mattes' portraits from virtual reality. This issue also marks the two-year anniversary of Artkrush — thanks to all of our readers for your continuing support!



  BACARDI B-Live hits up Miami's Bayfront Park on Saturday, March 17th!





Christie's Purchases Art Gallery
(Telegraph, February 27)
Venerable auction house Christie's has raised art-world eyebrows by purchasing London's Haunch of Venison. The gallery, which represents Bill Viola and Keith Tyson, among others, has branches in Zurich and Berlin and took in nearly $100 million in sales last year. While Christie's says that Haunch of Venison will be barred from bidding at its auctions, many art-world denizens are concerned that the sale represents an alarming conflict of interest. They are saying so quietly, however, so as to avoid the wrath of Christie's François Pinault, one of the most powerful people in the market. As a result of the sale, Christie's representatives said that Haunch of Venison will open a space in New York.

Unplanned Sculptures in Olympic Park
(Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 17)
The recently opened Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park, which boasts a world-class selection of artworks, has a few uninvited guests who are there to stay. A few days after opening, Roxy Paine's Split, a 50-foot-tall tree fashioned from aluminum, was joined by Splinter, a miniature version of the piece. Similarly, Alexander Calder's Eagle "birthed" three Eaglets, bright red and nesting by their parent sculpture. While both of the new works were credited to local art team SuttonBeresCuller, the trio denied having any involvement with the creations. The eaglets were actually created by painter Jason Puccinelli, illustrator Jed Dunkerley, and Greg Lundgren, who signed the work to their fellow artists as a tribute. "They're not part of the museum's collection, but we're going to leave them where they are," said the museum's spokesperson Erika Lindsay. "This kind of engagement is positive and respectful to the art. We welcome it."

India's Enfant Terrible of Art
(Guardian, February 20)
As India's art market continues to rise, mixed-media artist Subodh Gupta is enjoying international exposure. Gupta makes videos, paintings, and sculptures from found objects. He has gained notoriety for incorporating cow dung into his work, as in his video Pure, in which the artist is covered head to toe in bovine excrement before being hosed off. Gupta has shown at the Venice Biennale, London's Frieze Art Fair, and at shows in Moscow, Miami, and Japan. French billionaire François Pinault is one of his biggest supporters, having already purchased a one-ton sculpture of Gupta's — a skull fashioned from pots and pans — last October. He is represented by Geneva gallerist Pierre Huber, who has been instrumental in supporting the work of many contemporary Chinese artists. With six new private museums being built in India, Gupta's visibility — and selling price — is sure to rise.

Spitzer Greenlights Freedom Tower
(Architect Online, February 21)
New York Governor Eliot Spitzer recently signed off on the building of the 1,776-foot-tall Freedom Tower at Ground Zero. Spitzer had initially opposed the delayed project, which has been under construction for nine months, on the grounds that the project would not be profitable for the Port Authority, which owned the World Trade Center. New York's burgeoning real estate market has assuaged the governor's fears regarding the $2.4 billion enterprise, however, and he has said that he is open to selling the skyscraper. Scheduled for completion by 2011, the tower has recently drawn fire from critics such as the New York Times' Nicolai Ouroussoff, who wrote that the project "speaks less of resilience and tolerance than of paranoia."





Similarities found between new Gehry projects more »

Art fairs draw high marks for sales, lower marks for the art more »

Berlin museums chief opposes Louvre's Abu Dhabi plans more »

LA artist Gronk having a moment more »

First private contemporary art exhibition space opens in Russia more »

Schneider's cube finds a home in Hamburg more »

Donors contributed to MoMA director's salary more »

Kudos for Tim Hawkinson's menagerie more »

Dia Art Foundation hires new director more »

Weapons artist Alfredo Martinez in the crosshairs more »

P.S.1 taps young architect finalists more »

MOCA sets up website for feminist art show more »

Jeff Wall lights up MoMA more »

Elizabeth Diller talks about design for Boston's ICA more »

New Chinese art stars more »

NYC street art under attack more »

Valentine donates 40 works to UCLA's Hammer more »

Damien Hirst hits Hollywood with exhibition more »

An artist with a rap sheet more »

Museum show spotlights prefab housing design more »

Emmett Williams, Fluxus art pioneer, dies at 81 more »

Heinz Berggruen, Picasso collector, dies at 93 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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[ Design Life Now ]


     

Zero Maria Cornejo / Moorhead & Moorhead / Orlando Pita / Ransmeier & Floyd

Presenting design highlights from the last three years, the Design Triennial at New York's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum reveals two divergent paths: one towards fantastical, digitally generated forms, the other towards consciously handcrafted objects. Dominating the field, the curvaceous, tumultuous shapes of computer-aided design are visible at every scale, from buildings to silverware. At the same time, the passionate DIY movement crafts beauty from ordinary materials, its forms and concepts no less sophisticated than its high-tech counterparts.

Architects employing digital technology are creating delicately sinuous structures. Included in the Triennial is Acconci Studio's proposal for a ribbon-like skate park, which winds and curves over a sloping site. Boston-based architect Preston Scott Cohen explores complex geometries to create his twisting structures, such as his addition to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, while SHoP/Sharples Holden Pasquarelli builds anthropomorphically sensuous constructions, like its gently bulging Camera Obscura. Greg Lynn, one of the pioneers of computer-generated "blob" architecture, contributes silverware and furniture to the Triennial, presenting his signature mutations on a more intimate scale. Meanwhile, graphic designer Joshua Davis composes two-dimensional spaces with exploding blobs and tentacles.

In contrast, DIY designers reconfigure existing, mass-produced materials to create surprising new objects. Readymade and Make magazines provide endless design ideas, from phone-book coffee tables to homemade MP3 players, that promote environmental and anti-consumerist ethics. The Ladd brothers exhibit their handmade bags and jewelry in their elaborate Terre du Lac installation, referencing nature and their childhood memories. Taking a more industrial approach, Moorhead & Moorhead construct elaborate structures from simple materials; their Cargo Wall storage unit is woven from polypropylene webbing, commonly used for dog leashes.

By no means are these two paths completely separate — some designers combine futuristic forms with sensual craft. With melting formlessness as prevalent in fashion as it is in architecture, designers like Zero Maria Cornejo and Tom Scott translate twisting, deconstructed shapes into the soft tactility of a sweater or a knitted vest, and hairstylist Orlando Pita sculpts dramatic, gravity-defying creations for runway shows. In furniture design, Christopher Douglas' aerodynamic Knock-Down/Drag-Out Table is both collapsible and environmentally friendly. Finally, graphic designer Rick Valicenti and his Thirst collective intermix countless aesthetics in their installation of sassy, opinionated posters, digital collages, and embroidered slogans. (BR)

Design Life Now: National Design Triennial 2006 is on view at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York through July 29 and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston from September 8 to January 6, 2008.



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Hachiya Kazuhiko: OpenSky 2.0
Tokyo

NTT Inter Communication Center
Now through March 11

  Hachiya Kazuhiko's inventive flights of fancy have led to inventions such as the Inter Dis-Communication Machine, allowing partners to exchange points of view, and a fully functioning Airboard, inspired by Back to the Future 2. His imagination literally soars in this exhibition of his ongoing OpenSky project, which documents attempts to create a single-person flying machine modeled on the Mehve glider featured in Miyazaki Hayao's dystopian animated classic Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Preparatory models, the actual craft, a flight simulator, and test-flight footage bring the possibility of a personal plane tantalizingly close to touch. This experimental escapade also has a political edge as a protest of the 1992 Open Skies Treaty allowing airborne surveillance of participating countries' territory. (AM)

Drawings by Hachiya Kazuhiko are on view at Mujin-to Production through March 31.





Mounir Fatmi: Something is Possible
Los Angeles

Shoshana Wayne
Now through March 17

  For his latest exhibition at Shoshana Wayne, French-Moroccan artist Mounir Fatmi uses his signature visual lexicon of equestrian course obstacles and skeins of multicolored electrical cable to explore the dissemination and manipulation of information across cultural, political, and technological boundaries. The photo series Evolution or Death depicts books hooked up to tangled electronic circuitry in organic analog/digital jumbles. In the delicately arranged curlicues of white cable that constitute the floor installation Rosary and the phalanx of videotape cassettes screwed to the wall in the flat, lateral monolith Black Line, material and media are inextricable, their functions inverted to create ambiguous monuments to the expansive potential and unwieldy physical limitations of human communication. (SND)





Eva and Franco Mattes: 13 Most Beautiful Avatars
New York

Postmasters
Now through March 17

  For their new exhibition, Italian artists Eva and Franco Mattes, also known as 0100101110101101.ORG, use the traditional medium of the canvas to mount 13 portraits of digital avatars crafted by members of the online community Second Life. Known for high-tech hijinks, like creating and releasing a computer virus code for the 49th Venice Biennale, this forward-looking duo also references Andy Warhol by manipulating methods of media representation, recalling his pioneering silk screens. Indeed, the show's title alludes to Warhol's film shorts, 13 Most Beautiful Women and 13 Most Beautiful Boys. Questioning how self-image manifests itself in an incorporeal universe of multiple identities, this exhibition combines society pages' gloss with provocative thought. (JC)





Valentin Carron
Zürich

Kunsthalle Zürich
Now through March 18

  Executed with great force and provocative simplicity, young Swiss artist Valentin Carron's show at Kunsthalle Zürich offers a minefield of multiple readings. At the entrance, a clock on a square monochrome background tells the time, giving a pragmatic purpose to artistic creation. Elsewhere, Carron reproduces classical sculptures in polystyrene, including Trikorn, an ancient Roman bull's head. In the last gallery, a perfect replica of Giacometti's Walking Man is recast, the figure giving the fist to the wall it faces. Two The Dog sculptures stand at attention nearby, turning early existentialist iconography into the image of an angry homeless man with skinny dogs in trail. (MS)

A solo show of new work by Valentin Carron opens at Praz-Delavallade in Paris on March 17.





Poker
Milan

Monica De Cardenas
Now through March 10

  For this group show at Monica De Cardenas, curator Nikola Cernetic picks five vanguard painters employing techniques of both representation and abstraction. In their works, references to reality dissolve into figurative gestures, enigmatic washes, and color patterns. Brian Fahlstrom's new series of impressionistic canvases hint at landscape painting, and Kirsten Everberg reproduces images of explosions in oil and enamel. In Elizabeth Neel's pieces, the artist fragments images downloaded from the Internet beyond recognition. Whitney Bedford accentuates dramatic subject matter, such as floating icebergs, with a fantastic palette, while Kirstine Roepstorff's collages, often conceived as social parody, reinvent baroque sensibility with handcrafted design flourishes. (CA)



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[ Kidrobot ]



Kidrobot

The growing influence of high design on American consumer culture can be seen in the emergence of hybrid products that are as aesthetic as they are functional. The most quotidian and utilitarian items, from t-shirts to sneakers, are now increasingly co-branded between major corporations and street-credible visual artists. Enter Kidrobot, an American toy company founded in 2002 by Paul Budnitz that riffs on the tradition of artists' multiples with limited-edition, collectible figures.

Kidrobot’s premier figure, the Dunny, created by design-whiz Tristan Eaton, has not only redirected the Japanese otaku subculture towards mainstream America; it has also seamlessly merged form and content as a paradigm of art, design, and product. The potency of Kidrobot in our imagination today is that beyond the intrinsic appeal of the designers involved — artists such as Dalek, Frank Kozik, and Doze Green and fashion designers including Karl Lagerfeld, Hermès, Dolce & Gabbana, and Mark Jacobs for Louis Vuitton — the uniqueness of each product's skin is substantiated by the dynamic form itself. Each new edition draws overnight lines, the pieces rapidly disappearing into the hands of collectors.

Admitting the influence of pop art multiples, Kidrobot employs the medium of the serial canvas to find the latent humor in brand fetishism. If we are eager to pay more just for the label, Budnitz is interested in the alchemy of juxtaposing youth culture with high-end sponsorships. Recent Kidrobot projects include a line of polo shirts with Barneys, bright green boat shoes with Lacoste, and a glow-in-the-dark car with Volkswagen. Design, Kidrobot teaches us, is no longer purely formal, but all the more vital in its capacity for whimsical crossovers. (CM)

Kidrobot's work is on view in Design Life Now: National Design Triennial 2006 at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York through July 29 and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston from September 8 to January 6, 2008.



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[ Architecture for Humanity ]


     

Architecture for Humanity

Architecture for Humanity was founded in 1999 as a charitable organization promoting architectural and design solutions for global, social, and humanitarian crises. Through competitions, workshops, educational forums, partnerships with aid organizations, and other activities, AFH creates opportunities for architects and designers from around the world to help communities in need. Artkrush editor Paul Laster talks to AFH co-founder and director Cameron Sinclair about the organization's history and current projects.
AK: What was your motivation for co-founding Architecture for Humanity?

CS: The idea for Architecture for Humanity came when I was watching refugees returning to Kosovo after the war. I was struck by the living conditions they faced; winter was coming, and their homes were in rubble. It was a situation that demanded a better building solution, yet architects weren't responding. At first I thought of responding myself, but as an architect based in New York with primarily commercial experience, I felt that others — particularly those in the region — would probably have better solutions, so I launched a competition. There was a huge response — some 350 to 400 entries. And, in fact, a couple of Serbian architects entered the competition with a very nice note that said, "It is not us who are doing this, it is our leaders . . ." We still have that note.

AK: What was the outcome of the competition?

CS: We received entries from more than 220 design teams from 30 countries. We also gained funding by charging a small entry fee and through an appeal in the UK's Guardian newspaper. Buoyed by the fact that we had not only several feasible designs but also funding, we tried to negotiate building a number of housing units in Kosovo.

It ended up being our first confrontation with the brutal realities of providing international aid. In order to get building materials through customs, secure a site, get work permits, and facilitate other aspects of a housing program, we needed approval from the interim Kosovo government. However, the interim government, which was seeking aid from the international community, wanted 20,000 homes or none at all; we could build fewer than a dozen. The nonprofit War Child, which had given us direction early on, negotiated with local officials to no avail; the project ground to a halt. Short of building the structures in Albania and smuggling them across the border by helicopter — a possibility we briefly considered — we could find no way to get the shelters to those who needed them. In the end, War Child used the funds to provide immediate aid to the returning refugees and later to rebuild schools and medical facilities. However, the competition did raise awareness regarding the need for temporary, transitional shelters, and when we did work following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, we found that many nongovernmental organizations were building transitional shelters rather than providing tents or waiting to build permanent housing.

AK: Since 2004, AFH has been involved in designing AIDS information and treatment centers in Africa. What AIDS-related projects do you currently have underway, and how do they assist their communities?

keep reading the interview »


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  Speak Up
Armin Vit and Bryony Gomez-Palacio
UnderConsideration

Founded in 2002 by graphic designer Armin Vit as an online forum for issues related to graphic design, Speak Up is a stylish, easy-to-navigate website that overflows with content. Since its inception, there have been more than 1,500 posts — including reviews, discussions, essays, and interviews with high-profile designers such as Stefan Sagmeister — along with 37,000 comments submitted by readers. Lively and interactive, most articles are sharply illustrated, but the blog’s key visual factor is Word It, a monthly submission opportunity where contributors graphically respond to an assigned word, such as "Blah" or "Oops." Published using the Moveable Type platform, Speak Up is a division of UnderConsideration, which also publishes the Design Encyclopedia (a user-built design-reference site), Brand New (reporting on branding and corporate identity), and Quipsologies (witticisms about business and culture). Vit and his wife/collaborator Bryony Gomez-Palacio, both immigrants from Mexico, are continually constructing ways to utilize the web in order to keep their readers informed and entertained. (PL)

Speak Up is featured in Design Life Now: National Design Triennial 2006 at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York through July 29 and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston from September 8 to January 6, 2008.



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Cover Art
Acconci Studio
A Skate Park that Glides over the Land & Drops into the Sea, San Juan, PR, 2004-06
Digital rendering
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, New York
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Paul Laster

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Carlo McCormick


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