Sunday, October 30, 2011

Everything I wrote down during the Garden Marathon

 Like almost every year, I made it to London for Frieze week, thought the real reason is the always fantastic Serpentine Gallery annual Marathon, this year dedicated to Gardens, put together by great Hans Urlich Obrist. Here's everything I wrote down during the information hurricane (with some new notes inserted inbetween)
Planet as garden

there was a twitter hashtag as this's years' marathon was hosted also by Steffi Czerni and Marcel Reichart from DLD, one of my other annual informathons. 

(the outside of the Peter Zumthor garden pavilion, which contains a garden. I could take photographs of said garden, though that could never replicate the feeling of entering. The genius of Zumthor is that he made a pavilion that does not translate into pictures, in an age when buildings tend to live as long as blogposts)

Fenced garden inside immense landscape: something small has found sanctuary inside something enormous

Polyphonic garden

Dream garden

Helene Cixous
Gardens guard themselves

outside of garden: exile
Always wanting to return

Jardin d'essais


The first dream in mankind is the garden. A dream lost and forever missed.

There are moments during the night when you become a giant. Giants can become dwarfs in a split second.

Letepathy: Lithi, the river that the dead have to cross to reach Hades. They drink the water of lithi, which brings total oblivion. So they forget the horror of being dead.

Umbiblical cord is the first telephone line

its splendor spilled from horizon to horizon.


triangle comes from Aldo Rossi

 Chlidrens day care center for Muenster (rejected by Kaspar Koening)

Aldo van Eyck

Hedge and two way mirror labyrinth
Hedge defines property lines in suburbia, 1 way mirror defines property in the center of the city (office buildings)

Rob Krier +

Gunther Vogt
Birch forest on top of a parking lot

Rodiger Schottle
Theatergarden: Bestiarium
Large maquette with theater props fantastic
Its a garden as an exhibition
A group show
W Jeff Wall, Vito Acconci etc

The entire exhibition was collected as a piece.

Zarina Hasimi
Apartment life: a place where neither the floor nor the ceiling belongs to you

Elizabeth Diller
Before High Line, train was on ground. It often ran over pedestrians, and was dubbed Death Avenue

Argument for high line was that it would actually be a development tool. Prices would go up around the HighLine, as had happened in central park. (make a river on vasby?)
HighLine: preserve melancholia

Cedric Price: buildings are Magnets and Catalysts

Fritz Haeg

Silke Otto Knapp

Cristian Phillipe
Pleasure Pavilion, Melk Monastery

Three sisters: Corn for verticality, beans grow on that, and pumkin on the ground in the shaded areas.

Architect has a vision of a completed object and works towards achieving every detail.

Gardener starts a collaboration and set down a few parameters and then lets the system take him along to its direction.

Surrender. Taken along by something. Religion Sex Art Drugs

Often we took breaks to sit outside, and chat about many things next to Hans Peter Feldmans Xmas tree. We spoke a lot about Space Syntax with Alkmini and Sotiris, and how it is interesting to twist the whole Space Syntax theory with something like Everyday Urbanism's cynical reading of Shopping Malls, or even open Source solutions and internet style crowdsourcing and randomness. There were other interesting point there, but I have totally forgotten.

•Mark Pagel: cities as gardens•
I came to london by train. I woke up went to station, where somewhere had woken up to sell me a ticket, someone had woken up to drive the train, then in london someone had woken up to check me in at a hotel.
In fact none of these people had woken up to do a single thing for me, they had all been following along, a system had emerged from the ground up and was working perfectly.

PABLO LEON DE LA BARRA (was a tropical storm of exchanges between him and great Dominique Gonzales Foerster.

Psychological states, atlantic tropical desert ocean

Burle Marx inspiration for OscR Niemeyer

Dominique Gonzalez Foerster
Forrest of concrete columns in Parco ibirapuera

Edward James amazing
Hilitla house in jungle
(by Lina Bo Bardi?)

A Parc A Museum A Poem
by Carlos Pellicuer? In mexico

Dr Atol, the lava covered the town
+  Barragan

Matthias Goerits
Espacio Sculptorico

a desert in the middle of the jungle

Hotel Palenque

What happens when a branch falls from the 25th floor?

david Rowan
Internet as Garden

If something is free, then probably you are the product

AOL and facebook are Walled Gardens, controlled spaces. They are not free, open internet.
When you erect the wall around the garden, all the flowers bloom outside the garden.

Catherine Mosbach (w Phillipe Rahm)
Recreational Appropriation
Porosity gradient, softness of ground, layers of superficiality,

Program follows climate:
Recreation goes to low heat areas, museum goes to dark humid areas

Charles Jencks

We are in the Mesocosm, the middle size things between the Microcosm and the Megacosm

Nature #4: rubbish, waste, what people throw away.

Avenue of Doubles

Pablo Bronstein

Postmodern classicism is the tool that corporations use to make us think that their space is public, when in fact its private. Controlled private space as faux public plaza.

For Performa, 4 Ballet performances in 4 post-modern lobbies.

A neoclassical folly turns the landscape into a picture

At Chisenhale, a performance of people sitting in chairs. They arrived waiting to see a performance and they became the performance by sitting on layed out chairs.

Zurich, scarlatti, dying in desert

Barbed artificiality, abuse is part of the piece
 colorful Japanesters doing something outside Zumthor. Was this a piece? Was it random? Kusama?
Adam Curtis

Saturday, October 01, 2011

A Moment in the History of White Walls: 3rd Thessaloniki Biennial Compedium

Thessaloniki is a city often represented by a white 12th century fortification tower. This tower was part of a white fortification infrastructure protecting the city. 

Now the White tower is just a logo.

Biennials survive on white walls. One could say that white exhibition walls are a kind of fortification, since they keep reality out and offer a white cube of isolation where objects can be read as artworks. 

 White Cube spaces are the White Towers of Contemporary Art

They once protected art from reality, but now they signify exhibitionville, they became logos for the generic art space.

(Confusion reigned between what was exhibition and what was fortification, between city and gallery)

Suddenly in Thessaloniki white walls extend out of galleries, 
and stand guard in front of venues, hoping to have something to protect. Could they stop the crisis from entering the Biennial? Should they? In the end they too become logos, fortification as signage just like the white tower itself. 

Breaking up the STATE MUSEUM
Meanwhile at the venues, the exhibition arrangements attempt to put together proposals for an architecture of white walls. The space is too large and too bland for works, the scale is wrong and the collonade seems to attract all the attention.

Gallery rooms break apart, and sit closely to the corners, they form half rooms and semi rooms and open rooms, a maze of shifting possibilities. 

Their structure extends to attach itself to the existing building, forming another maze of inbetween spaces, where visitors can step out of the exhibition, pause and enter the space of another artist.

Works by Spartacus Chetwynd, Steven Harvey, Ali Kazma, Alexander Kluge, Irini Miga, Michail Pirgelis, Hrair Sarkissian and Kostis Velonis are shown vis a vis selections from the Costakis collection of Russian Avant Garde. The new rooms are dedicated to contemporary artists while works from the collection hang in the museums permanent walls.
visitors stepped in and out of rooms 
that almost didnt exist

Guarding the Ghost at CASA BIANCA

Casa Bianca is an Art Nouveau villa from the turn of the last century. The house is still haunted by tales of the well-to-do Jewish families’ daughter who fell in love with the gentile army lieutenant.
A set of unfinished ghost rooms occupies the reception areas of Casa Bianca, like a ghost waiting to decide if to appear. 

A fortification wall stood guard outside. 

Inside, rooms looked over white walls into other rooms

doors led through other doors  

 into rooms that contained other roomsending up in rooms one didnt expect(Manfredi Beninatti)curated by Paolo Colombo, featuring works by Manfredi Beninati, Pierpaolo Campanini, Andreas Embiricos, Yannoulis Halepas, William Kentridge, Margherita Manzelli, Pavlos Nikolakopoulos, Jockum Nordström, Imran Qureshi, Jean-Marc Rochette, Alberto Savinio, Christiana Soulou, Andreas Vais, Nanos Valaoritis, Constantin Xenakis. 
Passing through layers of fortifications at YENI DJAMI

One could say that Yeni Djami (New Mosque) is a building of curiously double identity. Built as a Mosque in 1902 by architect Vitaliano Poselli, it was commissioned by the community of the Dönme, which explains the overall theme of Stars of David decorating this Mosque. 

The Dönme were Jews that converted to Islam

and later expelled from Thessaloniki as “Turks”, although they maintained many of the beliefs and traditions of Judaism. Ironically those same beliefs isolated them once expelled to Turkey as Jews. 

A double identity twice rejected.
Two fortification walls are place in the Yeni Djami.  One  wall is placed outside and one inside, one is white and the other black, one offers a direct entrance, the other a hidden passage in to the main “temenos” of the Djami.

Works by Mounira Al Solh, Nikolaj B.S. Larsen, Moataz Nasr, Marwan Sahmarani, NaoKo TakaHashi were selected by Mahita El Bacha Urieta

An island sits inside a prayer room at ALATZA IMARET

Alatza Imaret is a 15th century poorhouse meaning literally “Colorful Refuge”. It consisted of a main prayer space, and adjacent food and study rooms, with the sleeping quarters in houses around the building. 

History repeats itself, and today those long gone sleeping quarters have been replaced by ad-hoc housing blocks in what is one of the poorest neighborhoods in Thessaloniki.

The works and exhibition walls are placed on a plinth that floats in this room like a white island, a safety raft. Visitors step up on this island, elevated and isolated inside the tall prayer space of Alatza Imaret.

(Slavs and Tatars Molla Nasredin reading beds and on the far wall, great spiderweb drawings by Pae White)

works by Penelope Georgiou,Panos Koutrouboussis, Yorgos Sapountzis, Slavs and Tatars , Ryan Trecartin  and Pae White were selected by Marina Fokidis

on the opening night, amazing concert by Solon Lekkas 
(on the facade great Yorgos Sapountzis)

Darkness engulfed the MACEDONIAN MUSEUM

The long narrow tall space of the Macedonian museum disappeared behind a wall of dark.

The darkness protected the works from the space, allowed the videos to breathe.

works by Kerren Cytter , Mounir Fatmi , Yehudit Sasportas , Pandelis Pandelopoulos, Dionyssis Kavalieratos 

An archive was placed inside BEY HAMAM

A set of repetitive, adjustable modules was conceived to host the  "information center of the biennial. The module transforms from passage to bookase to desk to vitrine to another vitrine to a seat.

 The back side of the modules is painted artworld white, and when the ymodules are placed together they form an enclosure, a wall of archives protecting (and perhaps intellectually fortifying)a space for works that need white walls.

This Archive Building could exist on it's own, but thecurators chose Bey Hamam, an Ottoman bath house from 1444, as the venue for this curious information center .

The function of the Hamam and the archive are interpreted as almost identical, one being for the body what the other is for the mind. Both programs relate to the passing of time, to introspection, to reflection, maybe daydreaming.

This affinity suggested the opportunity for an unexpected superimposition. In a reverse archaeological gesture, the archive building is embedded inside the cavernous spaces of the Hamam, as the result from a potential future discovery, a fata morgana

As you walk from room to room in the labyrinthine hamam, you encounter the bookshelf walls of this archive building yet and again. 

These walls seem to continue from room to room, 

and slowly you understand that the form a larger shape, a complete archive building that lives inside the hamam building.

Bey Hamam features works, archives and movies by Arab Image Foundation, Cinémathèque de Tanger, IKONO TV, PRISM TV (Nikos Katsaounis&Nina Paschalidou), Archive (Francesca Boenzi, Paolo Caffoni, Chiara Figone, Ignas Petronis), 98 Weeks

(Moments in the history of White Walls in Thessaloniki, from fortification, to prison, to tourist attraction and finally to exhibition wall. A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, main program of the 3rd Thessaloniki Biennial, curated by Paolo Colombo, Mahita Ebu, Marina Fokidis, architecture by Andreas Angelidakis.)

Transporting art through the TELLOGLIO FOUNDATION


The exhibition areas of the Telloglio Foundation seemed to resemble an 1980's Balkan airport, so we decided to leave the exhibition in it's shipping crate rooms, ready to travel.

somehow the shipping crates echoed the architecture of the building
the crates were conected with corridors, themselves connecting to curious crates we found on the site

works by Thomas Dvorzak, Tayfun Serttas, Vlassis Kaniaris,  and Socratis Socratous

 While the exhibition design plays with the idea of fortification and protection  as branding device, a large part of visiting the Biennale takes place outside these white walls.
Going from venue to venue becomes as much part of the biennial as the exhibition itself. You drive through strange neighborhoods were everybody seems to sell old stuff, followed by neighborhoods where everybody sells furniture. Then markets, 70's run down modernist apartment buildings, posh areas overlooking the sea, next to neighborhoods where students find shelter. 

 Other venues include the Archaeological Museum were you can see Athanasios Argianas, Sifis Lykakis and Dionisis Kavallieratos, Bruce Nauman and Christina Dimitriadis
(Bruce Nauman)
At the amazing Eptapyrgio prison you can see another ominous work by Vlassis Kaniaris. During the opening days one could also see a haunting performace of Olaf Nicolai's work, which is spread over all the venues (one song selected for each venue).
Then at Byzantine great works by Katerina Athanasopoulou, Dionisis Kavallieratos and Katarina Lillqvist.
The biennial concludes, (and often begins) from the Center of Contemporary art at the port, where one can see strong works by Francis Alÿs, Rasheed Araeen, Christoph Buchel, Angelo Plessas and Ahlam Shibli

(Angelo Plessas' Monument to Internet Hookups, a work that was shown in an initial version at the 2nd Athens Biennial in conjunction with Athens Pride, but now takes on a larger presence, offering free wifi which could initiate internet hookups of both sexual and political nature)

A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, the Main program of the 3rd Thessaloniki Biennial is curated by Paolo Colombo, Mahita Ebu and Marina Fokidis with architecture by Andreas Angelidakis 

special thanks to the State Museum of Contemporary Art
Sotiris Vasiliou (Angelidakis Studio)
INTEREXPO, AMSFAIRS, INTERFORM, EXPOSYSTEM and TETRAGON for construction and coordination.