Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When imagination (intentionally) went dull

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of FLW's Guggenheim NY building, the museum curators invited about 200 artists, architects, and designers to "imagine their dream interventions" in the rotunda," encouraging them to "leave practicality or even reality aside in their proposals." It sounds like an interesting idea - "contemplating the void," a dialogue between late modernism and contemporaneity, between positive and negative forms, between permanence and ephemerality. The list of invitees is quite an amazing group of big names, established big shots and rising stars alike.

And the results? Utterly disappointing... Imagination? Dreams? If all you can come up with is to put a giant sculpture or to plant trees in the middle, or to extend or mirror the original spiral geometry, I would say that's pretty boring.

Upper row from left to right: BIG, Liam Gillick, Gluckman Mayner Architects, Office dA
Lower row left: Bernard Tschumi; Right: Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset

Out of 193 submissions, I only found maybe 5 interesting ones. Mass Studies, JDS, and MVRDV's proposals at least address how people can actually interact with the rotunda space in some creative ways.
Mass Studies, ART/TRAP

JDS, Experiencing the Void

MVRDV, Let's Jump!

What bothers me the most is the sloppiness of the starchitects. Are you kidding me? You call those puny watercolor stains "light"? A colorful beehive represents the 21st century? Ink on Post-it? Photocopy? Some random stuff dated four years ago? I know I know, you like pointed corners, you like wavy forms, and you like blobs. But how are they relevant in this case? Can you at least think and show some care?? I am not even talking about contemplation... I hear some voices yelling in the back: "Give me a break. This is just like a fundraiser thing. I donated my work to Guggenheim, for Chrissake. They just want something for auction." Well... That clearly justifies the carelessness. I forgot architecture is really an all-for-profit business. There's no point spending time on pro bono work, right? The stars may still think no matter what they do, as long as their names are on it, it will be worth something. But to me, names don't mean anything anymore. Hey, we have a crisis! Of creativity or morals, a serious one either way.
Ben van Berkel, Chasing Light, 2009. Watercolor on paper

Toyo Ito, The 21st Century Grid, 2009. Colored pencil and ballpoint pen on photocopy

Michael Maltzan, Contemplating the Void, 2009. Ink on Post-it

Zaha Hadid Architects, Z-Wave, 2006. Digital print mounted on foamboard

Daniel Libeskind, Spiral Inspira....l, 2009. Ink and watercolor on paper

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