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MAD, Superstar: A Mobile China Town (detail), 2008

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Architecture Now
September 18-30, 2008

This issue of Artkrush focuses on the state of contemporary architecture, as the demand for innovative, ecologically sound design impels the vanguard forward. Seizing upon Aaron Betsky's diverse selection of international firms, we explore the 2008 Venice Biennale of Architecture; back stateside, we highlight the New York-based WORKac, whose P.F.1 (Public Farm One) is currently installed in Long Island City, courtesy of the MoMA/P.S.1 Young Architects Program. Meanwhile, Artkrush editor Paul Laster speaks with architect Teddy Cruz about his socially engaged practice, as well as his contribution to the Venice Biennale of Architecture; and for your coffee table, we recommend Tom Kundig: Houses, the first monograph on the work of the celebrated Seattle-based architect. Our review of current exhibitions, meanwhile, spans continents and coasts: Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner at LA's Hammer Museum elucidates the late SoCal architect's futuristic structures with numerous plans and designs, while we also delight in Ghada Amer's erotic embroidery at the Brooklyn Museum.








Jeff Koons Storms Versailles
(AFP.com, September 10)
Huge balloon dogs, a giant valentine heart, and an enormous inflatable lobster took their places alongside gilded frames and manicured gardens as Jeff Koons kicked off a three-month exhibition of his work at the Chateau de Versailles. The show of 17 pieces, on loan from private collectors, made the celebrated artist giddy: "To be here in Versailles, it feels so profound, it feels so right," Koons said. While some critics and citizens feel the show is an affront to the legacy of Louis XIV, the chateau's director, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, defended Versailles as a "laboratory for tastes... not something frozen in formaldehyde."

Shepard Fairey Arrested During DNC
(Charleston City Paper, September 4)
Shepard Fairey, best-known for his Obey images of pro wrestler Andre the Giant, attracted some unwanted attention recently. The artist's current Barack Obama posters have become so popular that people are copying and selling them, but his notoriety didn't help when Fairey was arrested at the recent Democratic National Convention in Denver. Fairey and other artists — including Robert Indiana — were thrown to the ground and handcuffed before being charged with "interference and posting unauthorized posters." They spent 17 hours in jail, during which time they shared space with the over 100 pepper-sprayed anarchists who had been hauled in earlier.

Robert Hughes Slams Damien Hirst
(Telegraph, September 7)
Flame on! Critic Robert Hughes has called Damien Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living a "tacky commodity" and has lambasted the artist for his commercial focus. When the artist's preserved shark sold for close to £7 million four years ago, the Aussie writer proclaimed it to be the "world's most overrated marine organism." Hirst, who successfully sold 223 new works at a Sotheby's auction — the brainchild of his business manager Frank Dunphy — hit back, saying, "I wouldn't expect anything less from Robert Hughes. He probably cried when Queen Victoria died."

Shanghai Fair Bans Delvoye's Pigs
(Bloomberg.com, September 9)
Things are not fine with the swine at Shanghai's biggest art fair. ShContemporary organizers banned Wim Delvoye from exhibiting his tattooed pigs at the fair, dismantling the space Delvoye's dealer, Xin Beijing Gallery, had set up for the Belgian artist. It is unclear if the Chinese government ordered the shutdown. Delvoye told NPR "it was not allowed because it was not art." In a related body-art story, after tattooing a Zurich man, Tim Steiner, with a full-back image of the Virgin Mary, Delvoye sold the "work" to a German art collector for more than $200,000. In return for a cut of the money, Steiner must exhibit himself three times a year. Even creepier: the tattooed skin will revert to the collector after Steiner's death.





New York's new glass towers more »

Banksy's art raffle costs £5,000 a ticket more »

Marc Steglitz and Jed Perl debate the Guggenheim's Cai Guo-Qiang show more »

New Museum secures adjacent property for expansion more »

Flea-market installation artist Ann Hamilton takes Heinz Award more »

British artist Simon Patterson probes space and time more »

Indian Supreme Court rules that exiled artist M.F. Husain can return home more »

Sydney Biennale sets attendance record more »

Is Richard Rogers' "hideous" Lloyd's building worthy of landmark status? more »

Curator ascends to director at the Met more »

I.M. Pei-designed chancery flaunts new look for China in DC more »

Charles Saatchi set to open new London gallery more »

New Orleans biennial ready to bow more »

Marco Evaristti plans to feed death-row inmate to the fishes more »

Late German painter Martin Kippenberger has first US retrospective more »

A bird's-eye view of Dellis Cay's luxury developments more »

From Burning Man to the big time more »

Yale taps Robert A.M. Stern to design new residential colleges, sparking debate more »

Center for Land Use Interpretation tours LA's waste streams more »

Comix pioneer R. Crumb zaps Philly museum-goers more »

Marc Quinn casts Kate Moss in gold more »

Clipping images with Martha Rosler more »

Swoon's ships stopped on the Hudson more »

Steve McQueen nabs Venice Film Festival honor more »

Building up fall's architectural highlights more »



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[ Venice Biennale of Architecture ]


   

Matthew Ritchie & Aranda/Lasch / Design Corps / The Edible Schoolyard/Yale Sustainable Food Project

Ambitious and broad in its address, the 11th Venice Biennale of Architecture explores the myriad problems facing our manufactured environment and asks how architecture, as separate from building, might challenge the status quo through experiment and innovation. Conceived by Aaron Betsky — esteemed writer and journalist, former director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute, and current director of the Cincinnati Art Museum — and titled Out There: Architecture Beyond Building, the Biennale brings together today's most renowned practitioners and the emerging talent that will shape tomorrow.

In the Arsenale, one of the exposition's primary venues, large-scale site-specific installations come courtesy of such firms as Asymptote, Atelier Bow Wow, Zaha Hadid Architects, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The Arsenale's main facility, the Coderie, introduces visitors to the Biennale with Hall of Fragments, a series of historical and sci-fi film projections assembled by David Rockwell in concert with Detroit-based jones|kroloff. Part personal expression and part architectural manifesto, The Evening Line by Matthew Ritchie with architects Aranda/Lasch and design group Arup AGU is a room-sized installation of laser-cut aluminum that replicates itself through the gallery like a three-dimensional fractal. The installation represents just one "bit," or building block, which can attach onto a potentially infinite number of other nodes to collectively constitute an "anti-pavilion" that expands to fill space, rather than be confined by it.

Uneternal City, presented in the Arsenale's Artiglierie, underscores the exposition's thematic tensions, questioning the conventional wisdoms of city planning and positing new solutions for architects and urban developers. Curated by Betsky, Uneternal City showcases the work of 12 Italian and international firms including New West Land, MAD, Nemesi, and West 8 — all of which were charged with re-imagining Rome. West 8 offers Valley of Desire, a modern equivalent of the Renaissance estate of the Villa d'Este, which the firm describes as "an antidote to the suffocating experience of Rome."

This year's Biennale also presents a record number of international representatives — from a total of 56 countries — within the pavilions of the Giardini. The Japanese pavilion's Extreme Nature: Landscape of Ambiguous Spaces presents a group of small greenhouses designed by Junya Ishigami that reference the legacy of international expositions and define new alternatives for their future. The US pavilion presentation Into the Open: Positioning Practice highlights projects from 15 architects, urban researchers, and community activists working with shifting sociocultural demographics, economic imbalance, and urbanization. Notable contributions include the on-campus Edible Schoolyard/Yale Sustainable Food Project, an Alice Waters-inspired organic-farming initiative; the Heidelberg Project's outdoor art projects in an underprivileged Detroit neighborhood; and Jonathan Kirschenfeld Associates' mobile pool.

Finally, no exposition would be complete without a student competition to discern future pioneers. Betsky further unites architectural practice with urban development through the online competition Everyville: Community Beyond Place, Civic Sense Beyond Architecture. Open to any student practicing at the university level, the competition imagines Everyville as a hypothetical exurban sprawl badly in need of "an image, a coherence, a character, and a civic sense." Perhaps more than any exhibition in the Biennale, Everyville highlights one of the greatest social challenges of our era: to persist in enlivening our environment, despite a flagging creative spirit in public life. It is a fitting bookend to an exposition that's not about buildings, but about dreams and aspirations.  - Brian Fichtner

The 11th Venice Biennale of Architecture continues through November 23.



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  Jim Lambie: Eight Miles High
Melbourne

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
Now through September 21

For his first exhibition in Australia, Scottish artist Jim Lambie carpeted the vast floor of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art with his signature pulsating strips of vinyl tape. These candy-colored bands converge to form concentric shapes, bringing to mind late-modernist painters Frank Stella, Bridget Riley, and Peter Halley. Propped on this dazzling optical field are eight concrete wedges embedded with vinyl records by obscure bands. Suspended concave mirrors hover over the floor like a strange armature, while a dysfunctional mattress splattered with black paint is perched high on the gallery wall. Throughout Eight Miles High — a title lifted from the 1966 song by the Byrds — the Turner Prize nominee deftly bridges musical influences with sculptural finesse, softening the conceptual edge of much contemporary abstraction with his hypnotic geometry.  - Natalie King




  Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner
Los Angeles

Hammer Museum
Now through October 12

Walking into the Hammer galleries for Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner is like entering a forest of vertiginous dimensions. Exhibition curators Frank Escher and Nicholas Olsberg explore the mid-century architect's interest in visceral experience, nature, and complex structural systems by incorporating hundreds of plans and drawings into a diverse topography of fiberboard displays, light boxes, large-scale wooden models, landscape and construction photographs, and digital animations of building facades and interiors. Celebrated homes like the iconic octagonal 1960 Chemosphere in LA and Palm Springs' 1968 Elrod House are given in-depth explorations, illuminating the legacy of Lautner's futuristic vision. His influence on contemporary innovators can be detected in Frank Gehry's outlandish digital geometry and Norman Foster's eco-conscious forms.  - Leila Khastoo

The exhibition is accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue, published by Rizzoli International Publications, in association with the Hammer Musem.




  Inner and Outer Space
Pittsburgh

Mattress Factory
Now through January 11, 2009

Across town from the galactic-themed Carnegie International exhibit Life on Mars, the Mattress Factory brings together nine artists who explore art and space in Inner and Outer Space. Modern art's spatial investigations are reprised in Luca Buvoli's sculptural Instant Before Incident (Marinetti's Drive 1908), representing futurist pioneer F.T. Marinetti's fateful car crash; recalling a three-dimensional futurist painting, the piece literally leaps out of the gallery through a window. Bahamas-born Tavares Strachan collaborated with scientists from Carnegie Mellon to develop a robotic rover that explores a fictional stellar landscape in Where Do We Go from Here and reports back to a command center in the museum parking lot. The museum space is further transformed by Mary Temple's pair of trompe l'oeil installation paintings of shadows, while Sarah Oppenheimer provides an unusual vantage point with her hole in the floor.  - Brian Skar




  Ghada Amer: Love Has No End
Brooklyn

Brooklyn Museum
Now through October 19

Though her CV boasts many major international exhibitions, Ghada Amer has never had a solo show at a New York museum. A cogent survey in the Brooklyn Museum's Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art corrects that oversight, gathering 20 years of Amer's working world, beginning with early gems and ephemera such as Egyptian fashion rags and Joseph Cornell-esque boxes housing miniature-dress patterns. Her signature smut-embroidered surfaces also receive proper attention, while lesser-known installations are presented alongside documentation of public projects and performances. Amer's long-standing collaboration with Reza Farkhondeh is de-emphasized in favor of defining an ideological arc that starts by investigating women in Islam, engages women's issues globally, and then returns, by force of recent history, to her central concern with Islam.  - Naomi Beckwith




  Barbara Bloom: The Collections of Barbara Bloom
Berlin

Martin-Gropius-Bau
Now through November 9

Barbara Bloom has meticulously curated a curious cabinet of her own work as well as found objects for The Collections of Barbara Bloom, a traveling solo exhibition now on view at Berlin's Martin-Gropius-Bau. Here, in 11 sections divided among six rooms, the visual repetitions between Bloom's shrewdly juxtaposed objects impel viewers to question their conventional engagement with art. The American multimedia artist's fascination with collecting, framing, reading, and doubling manifests itself throughout, as in a framed page from Bloom's book Never Odd or Even, featuring two grainy images of identical twins presenting their butterfly collection on The Tonight Show. Bloom's copy of the Bible in shorthand and her Color Chart — a palette of paint chips with names such as "Ringo" and "Nietzsche" — reveal a whimsical imagination. Resembling the estate sale of some eccentric collector, Bloom's exhibition creates an implicit narrative of both celebration and dissolution.  - Sarah Stephenson

A catalogue, published by Steidl and the International Center of Photography.



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[ WORKac ]


   

WORK Architecture Company

Past winners of the annual MoMA/P.S.1 Young Architects Program competition have sometimes been disappointingly lifeless, but this summer's triumphant installation, P.F.1 (Public Farm One), is vital indeed. New York-based WORK Architecture Company (WORKac) transforms P.S.1's perennially concrete-grey courtyard into a green oasis. Constructed, improbably, from fully recyclable cardboard tubes housing a variety of vegetables and other plants, this experiment in urban cultivation joyfully alters its setting.

Before founding WORKac in 2002, Amale Andraos and Dan Wood were principal designers in the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, where they worked on such innovative projects as the Prada Epicenter stores. Three years into their WORKac venture, Andraos and Wood won an American Institute of Architects Design Prize. Then, in 2006, the firm was selected for the first New Practices New York portfolio prize. WORKac's institutional ethic is comprehensively forward-thinking — excited by the possibilities of reimagined contexts and committed to the development of sustainable construction techniques.

This broad vision notwithstanding, WORKac approaches each project with a single defining detail in mind, then expands on it, or applies it consistently to achieve a unified aesthetic. For instance, in jewelry designer Lee Angel's renovated Manhattan office, Andraos and Wood lined the hallway with many jars of multicolored beads. Leading from the reception area to the showroom, the seductive conduit enlivens a previously unremarkable space while embodying the sensibility of Angel's glimmering wares.

More recently, WORKac has worked with crystals, using both substance and shape to dramatic effect in the glamorous interior of the Diane von Furstenburg Studio in New York. Andraos and Wood are also in the process of collecting their ongoing research on "eco-urbanism" — conducted at Princeton University — in a book. Embracing glitz and practicality, as well as the manufactured and the organic, the two projects are emblematic of WORKac's own highly productive pairing.  - Michael Wilson

P.F.1 (Public Farm One) is on view at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center through October 19, while designs for the project can be seen in the Young Architects Program 2008 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art through October 20. through October 20. Gramercy Tavern chef Michael Anthony will prepare appetizers from the farm crop during PopRally Presents P.F.1's Autumn Harvest at P.S.1 on September 30.



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[ Teddy Cruz ]  


Teddy Cruz
View more images »
Estudio Teddy Cruz is a forward thinking architecture firm, more concerned with building communities than simply building. Teddy Cruz's practice is rooted in the social and economic conditions of the trans-border territory between San Diego, California and Tijuana, Mexico. Artkrush editor Paul Laster recently spoke to Cruz about his social concerns and his projects currently on view from New York to Venice.
AK: How do you define your architecture practice?

TC: I would define my practice as a hybrid between research and practice. Before we intervene or acknowledge that there is crisis around the world, or think of solving it, we need to prepare the terrain in the context of those issues. We need to be aware of the conditions that produce those crises in the first place. Many architects talk about research and practice. I'm trying to problematize that relationship, as well. This not only means researching issues for the sake of researching, but also that architects must enter into certain institutions to actually see the way that they are operating, and to realize that they are sometimes operating in a very stupid way.

AK: Why did you choose the US-Mexican border zone as the site for exploring your design ideas? How can those concepts be utilized worldwide?


keep reading the interview »


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  Tom Kundig: Houses
Dung Ngo, Steven Holl, Rick Joy, and Billie Tsien
Princeton Architectural Press

The most recent winner of the Cooper-Hewitt's National Design Award in Architecture Design, Tom Kundig is a celebrated partner in Seattle-based firm Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects. Although Kundig has designed commercial, residential, and institutional projects for clients worldwide, he is best known for his houses, cabins, and studios sited in the rugged landscape of the American West. This well-designed, richly illustrated book — the first monograph of Kundig's work — presents five of his projects in depth, beginning with Studio House, completed for a Seattle artist in 1998, and ending with the 2006-realized Hot Rod House, which the architect and his wife designed for themselves. Rounding out the projects are The Brain, a poured-concrete writing and photography studio with large steel-case windows on two sides; Chicken Point Cabin, whose hand-cranked wall of windows opens to a lake view; and the steel and glass Delta Shelter, which, when shuttered, resembles a rusting fortress at the edge of an alpine forest. Kundig recently added several rolling prefab guesthouses to the Delta property — clever steel and wood structures that only further advance his standing at the cutting edge of contemporary architecture.  - Paul Laster



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Cover Art
MAD
Superstar: A Mobile China Town, 2008
Self-sustaining future community
3,280 ft./ 1,000 m tall
Proposal for the 11th Venice Biennale of Architecture
Courtesy the artists
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