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The New OCMA A Placemaking Museum

The opening of the new Orange County Museum of Art is good news for architecture, art, and especially for community life. The museum has a poetic edge without being overwhelming; the space has flow and transparency, and artworks can be seen with good lighting and without distractions. More than a museum, it is an educational facility that stimulates social interaction.

Poster of The New OCMA documentary

OCMA Museum. Richard Serra’s “Connector” in the foreground. Copyright: R&R Meghiddo. All Rights Reserved.

Night view of OCMA from its terrace. Copyright: R&R Meghiddo. All Rights Reserved.

Orange County has grown from a semi-rural farming area to an urban development that includes the South Coast Plaza shopping center and the John Wayne Airport in seventy years. It has a balanced ethnic mix, with 66% of its population under 45.

OCMA’s pivotal location is relevant to generating a cascade of public spaces. The 53,000-square-foot new museum completes a cultural campus that includes the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, the South Coast Repertory Theater, the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, and the Samueli Theater. Richard Serra’s 64-foot tall sculpture, “Connector,” defines a clear point of reference.

OCMA’s project’s architect, Pritzker Price winner Thom Mayne, known for his “muscular architecture,” confronted the 73,000 square-foot site sensibly to its surroundings. He has produced here a more lyrical and well-balanced project. Brandon Welling was the Partner-in-Charge. The building’s primary structure is composed of structural steel and concrete.

A sculptural wing hovers over the lobby atrium. It is an inspiring, artful, and dynamic architectural space of curved walls covered with white terracotta tiles. A full-height irregular window overlooks the large terrace. Within the building, fluidity is stimulated by transparency. The relationship between indoors and outdoors is graceful at the terrace’s level.

The building’s entrance faces the piazza where Serra’s sculpture sits. The eastern elevation, facing Avenue of the Arts, has a street-lever curtain wall that shows artworks in conversation with the street. The other two sides (west and north elevations) are introverted. This design approach works particularly well in the rear, where the building’s identification is defined only by the OCMA sign. By doing so, the new building pays respect to Cesar Pelli’s Plaza Tower, the Samueli Theater, Peter Walker’s landscape design, and Aiko Miyawaki’s Utsurchi G1 sculpture.

The museum’s director, Heidi Zuckerman, started her new position at OCMA with an admirable job. In this exhibition, she was seconded by Courtenay Finn as the Chief Curator and a team of curators that helped assemble the various in-tandem shows. These include:

  1. “13 Women” pays homage to the 13 women who founded the Balboa Pavilion Gallery, the earliest iteration of OCMA, which opened sixty years ago.
  2. The “California Biennial 2022: Pacific Gold “exhibits sixty works of art, including ceramics, painting, sculpture, textiles, video, and large-scale installations. Some of these have been commissioned for this exhibition.
  3. Fred Eversley, a former consulting engineer for NASA, brings samples of his work at the mezzanine, which spans forty years of practice as an artist.

At the terrace, Sanford Biggers’ 24-foot wide by 16-foot-tall outdoor sculpture is a two-dimensional stage with an allegoric reclining black male figure that combines an archetype reclining male figure with non-Western culture symbolisms.

Director Zuckerman’s statement clearly defines OCMA’s direction: “Our mission here is to enrich people’s lives in a diverse and fast-changing community. We carry out this work with the conviction that access to art is a basic human right. And we want to provide that access in such a way that everyone feels welcome and at home.”

From Ukraine to Basavilbaso A Jewish Family Story of Emigration to Argentina

From Ukraine to Basavilbaso from Rick Meghiddo on Vimeo.

The horrors of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that enters our homes daily get mixed with a tsunami of domestic and international negative news. How to filter through these constructively?

The news from Ukraine triggered in me two sets of questions:  1. How does Ukraine not shown on television look like? What is its history, its geography, its art? 2. What is the link between the centuries-long Jewish presence in Ukraine and the story of my family’s emigration from Ukraine to Argentina?

The short documentary embedded here, “From Ukraine to Basavilbaso,” is a story of migration from a land afflicted by anti-Semitism to a land that promised freedom and opportunity. It is a story shared by millions of people.

Since the staging of my family’s story was Ukraine and Argentina, I wanted to link their story with a hopeful present. In contrast to tragedies and hardships, I framed the main story with images of the ongoing war at the beginning and present-day artists at both ends. Through my research, I discovered Daria Marchenko, Pazza Pennello, the DakhaBrakha–Monakh band, and Stepan Ryabchenko from Ukraine, to name just a few. From Argentina, I brought in the legendary conceptual and performance artist Marta Minujín and also a segment of the Argentum performance at Teatro Colon during the G-20 meeting.

When a couple of months ago, a cousin sent me from Argentina photos of his newly discovered graves of our mutual great-grandfather Moises and of our grandfather Aron in Basavilbaso’s oldest cemetery, I decided to connect the dots between my questions.

The photographs of my great-grandfather’s grave were particularly revealing. In it was written, in Hebrew: “Moises Frenkel. Born in Dubna, died (according to the Gregorian calendar) on February 24, 1917, at the age of 107.” Where is Dubna, I ask myself? One hundred and seven years old? That means that he was born in 1810, the year Argentinians celebrate the May Revolution, commemorating their detachment from Spain’s monarchy, which for me, as a child growing up in Buenos Aires, was “old history.”

Soon I discovered that “Dubna” was the Yiddish spelling of Dubno, a town whose history begins in the 1100s and where its oldest Jewish tomb dates from 1581. I also learned that in 1794 the first Hebrew printing press was established there and that in the 19th century, Dubno was a place of Haskalah activists. Haskalah was the Jewish Enlightenment movement in Europe that promoted rationalism, liberalism, and freedom of thought.

How did all these factors impact my great-grandfather’s upbringing? The little I know is that he had been kidnapped by the Russian Army when he was seven years old, which was not uncommon at the time, and was released when he was twenty. He then married but, not having children, he divorced. He remarried a widow with six children; together, they had four more children. Since grandfather Aron Frenkel was the oldest of these, born in 1870, Moises was sixty years old when Aron was born. Where did they live?

Aron’s wife, grandmother Catalina Torgavetzky, referred to the Kherson Gubernia as their place of origin. That is a vast area, about the size of South Carolina. Where in Kherson? Judging from the upbringing of the Frenkels offspring, the Frenkels were well-educated in both the Bible and the Talmud and Russian and Yiddish literature. They probably lived not far from Odessa, already a sophisticated city by the end of the 19th century with an imposing Opera House and large boulevards enhanced by Italian and French architecture.

The Kherson Gubernia was a part of the Pale of Settlement, the area where 5.3 million Jews were allowed to live within the Russian Empire. The Pale of Settlement included modern-day Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova, parts of Poland and Latvia, and most of Ukraine. Their common language was Yiddish, a German dialect with words from Hebrew. They all suffered from anti-Semitic attacks and discrimination. Pogroms, the organized massacre of helpless Jews, were a common occurrence.

By the beginning of the 1900s, when pogroms became more murderous, Moises decided it was time to live, but where? The United States, “the Goldene Medina,” had strict immigration quotas that took years to qualify. Palestine was a poor land that had only Zionist ideals to offer. At the time, Baron Hirsch’s Jewish Colonization Association offered 150 hectares (about 370 acres) per family to settle in Argentina, subject to a down payment and repayment in 25 years, starting three years after arrival. It seemed like a definite possibility to sustain the livelihood of a large family.

In 1904 the Jewish Colonization Association selected one-hundred families in the south of Russia to settle in Argentina’s Jewish colonies. Where in the colonies? “Basavilbaso,” they were told. Basavilbaso was a train station of a major railway intersection, about 320 km from Buenos Aires. Founded in 1887, the Jewish immigrants called the colony Lucienville, about 40,000 hectares of cattle pasture.

The Frenkel’s accepted the offer. They moved to Argentina in 1904 as a group of about eighty people: Great-grandfather Moises, 94, and his married sons and daughters, already in their thirties, with their spouses and children. The whole family must have traveled by train to Hamburg in Germany to board a ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean in two to three weeks.

They reached Buenos Aires in June-July 1904. It was winter in the southern hemisphere. They had to endure several days of Argentina’s bureaucracy in crowded, terrible conditions. From Buenos Aires, they traveled 320 km to Basavilbaso, where there was not much more than a train station and plenty of mud. Basavilbaso was an Argentinean version of a small shtetl, yet the surroundings had wide horizons, and for the first time in their lives, they did not fear pogroms.

The Jews that settled in Basavilbaso were well-educated. Contrary to the romantic image generated by writer Alberto Gerchunoff of Jewish gauchos, the immigrants were not farmers and did not aspire to become farmers. They became farmers to make a living and to be able to provide their children with a good education.

Grandfather Aron chose to be a merchant rather than a farmer. He bought a lot in the new village’s center and built a house to accommodate his family. His son and two daughters born in Ukraine were followed by five daughters born in Basavilbaso, among them, my mother.

Stories tell that great-grandfather Moises built Basavilbaso’s first synagogue, Tfila Le-Moshe, completed in 1912. Yet religion was not central to the Frenkels. The food they prepared was not kosher, and they limited their celebrations to the High Holidays and Passover, yet education was an essential subject.

The Frenkel’s home had a well-supplied library with many books in Russian and Spanish. There was a pianola, and the siblings had to learn to play music and do their regular school chores. By 1900, the colonies already had twenty elementary schools teaching 1,200 pupils. The classes included Spanish, Argentinian history, and Hebrew and Jewish rituals. Children learned to read and write both in Spanish and in Yiddish. However, since there were no high schools in the vicinity, the new generation moved to Buenos Aires during their teens. Many became professionals.

My father emigrated to Argentina in 1925, when he was twenty years old. He was born in Kalarash, a shtetl located about 50 km from Kishinev, the present-day capital of the Republic of Moldova, which was called Bessarabia between 1818 and 1919.

His parents were poverty-stricken religious Jews with ten children. The boys all studied Hebrew at the local yeshiva, but my father also got a secular education by going to a gymnasium, the Russian high school. There he discovered his talent for math and memorizing long Russian poems. I was this unusual combination that would impact his future life. Although he dreamed of becoming a writer, he soon became a businessman using his learned skills to achieve his goals.

My mother, a heavy reader like my grandmother, became self-educated. She performed poetry declamations, wrote in impeccable Spanish, and sang with an opera-level mezzo-soprano voice. She married my father in her early twenties. I showed up eleven years later.

Today approximately 180,000 Jews live in Argentina, and about 140,000 in Buenos Aires. About 100 are part of my family. Most of them live in Buenos Aires.

 

Rethinking Symbolism Takashi Murakami + This Is Not America’s Flag at the Broad

Rethinking Symbols from Rick Meghiddo on Vimeo.

The “Takashi Murakami: Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow” and “This Is Not America’s Flag” combined exhibitions at the Broad bring us the power of symbolism and its interpretations through multiple artists and evolving cultures. Muramaki uses “augmented reality” to express trauma and disaster. The artists featured in “This Is Not America’s Flag” challenge the meaning of patriotism and one of its main symbols, the American flag.

The Octopus Eat6s Its Own Leg

 The curator of Murakami’s works is Ed Schad, whose extraordinarily well-curated exhibitions on Jasper Johns and Shirin Neshat I have covered. Sarah Loyer, the young curator of “This Is Not America’s Flag,” successfully orchestrates an ensemble of disparate artists, from Jasper Johns to Alfredo Jaar, to Vito Acconci, to Wendy Red Star. What is extraordinary about this double-feature show is that the two contrasting exhibitions blend seamlessly. Although each one could have a stand-alone in its own right, the synergetic togetherness demonstrates that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow

 Murakami’s work is powerful, whether he expresses himself at the scale of In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, 984 x 118 inches (2500 x 300 cm), or in My arms and legs rot off, and though my blood rushes forth, the tranquility of my heart shall be prized above all. (Red blood, black blood, blood that is not blood), 32 x 27 in (83 x 70 cm,) or humorously is the Nurse Ko2 “ overly-sexualized” female nurse, a distant cousin of America’s Barbie Doll.

 

The “Not America’s Flag” exhibition holds its power as a whole. Although Jasper John’s Flag is a heavyweight, it is the multiple interpretations under one roof that forces us to rethink symbols at a time when “The Big Lie” is followed by 35 percent of Americans and over 80 percent of Russians approve of Putin’s war.

 

Watching on livestream Muramaki’s conversation with Etsuko Price (1) at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center in Los Angeles was instructive. Although known for his eccentric exhibitionism, listening to what he says (through translation) helps get into his mind and better understand the complexity of his multi-layered architectural thinking.

 

Note (1) During our trip to visit and photograph Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower, I visited Joe and Etsuko Price at their house and gallery in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. The house’s architect, Bruce Goff, was there (some of our photos can be seen in https://archidocu.com/sideways-1971/ scrolling down to BARTLESVILLE, OKLAHOMA.)  

Takashi Muramaki in conversation with Etsuko Price, Japan House, Los Angeles, May 20, 2022

 

Ukrainian Bullets Young Ukrainian Artists at the Forefront of Art, Architecture, and Music

Ukrainian Bullets from Rick Meghiddo on Vimeo.

With the war in Ukraine entering most people’s lives worldwide, Ukrainian Bullets shows creative alternatives from life before the beginning of the war. In delineating a short documentary, I focused on contemporary young artists at the forefront of art, music, and architecture.

Artists

 

Daria Marchenko graduated from Kyiv National University of Technologies and Design. She is best known for her involvement as an advocate for public art in Ukraine. She has created wall murals in over thirty countries. In “The Face of War,” she portrays Putin made from 5,000 bullet casings. Trump’s portrait “The Face of Money,” made together with Daniel Green, is made out of mostly pennies, nickels, and poker chips.

 

Pazza Pennello (b. 1987) is a Ukrainian pop artist born in Odessa. She lives in Kyiv. Her artworks are part of private collections in Ukraine, France, Switzerland, and the USA.

 

Alina Samanova (b. 1993) graduated from the University of the Arts in London. She lives in Kyiv. Her paintings depict both confident and vulnerable women in their chosen environment.

 

Stepan Ryabchenko was born in Odessa (b. 1987) in a family of artists. Hi graduated as an architect.

 

Musicians

 

Antonii Baryshevskyi is a pianist and composer. He was born (b. 1988) in Kyiv. He studied music at the Tchaikovsky National Academy of Music of Ukraine and at the École Supérieure de Musique in Paris.

 

DakhaBrakha is a Ukrainian folk quartet that combines the musical styles of several ethnic groups.

 

Dakh Daughters is a Ukrainian music and theater project started in 2012 in Kyiv. The band consists of seven women who play various instruments and sing in different languages (English, French, Russian, German) and dialects of Ukrainian. Dakh Daughters has performed in various Ukrainian cities and Poland, the Czech Republic, France, Russia, and Brazil. 

 

Go_A is a Ukrainian electro-folk band first formed in 2012 sent to represent Ukraine in the Eurovision Song Contest 2020 in Rotterdam, Netherlands (canceled due to COVID-19.)

 

Architects

 

SPRW Architects, based in Kyiv, with architect Vitaly Vorobey and designer Aleksey Zvoliansky, conceived “Flatness,” an art gallery.

 

L.A.’s New Icon Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences

Los Angeles has a new icon: the spherical Geffen Theater, a state-of-the-art place for film projections designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano. It is part of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, inaugurated last September.

 

The City of Angels is not short of icons, but few have visual clarity. The most explicit are the Theme Building at LAX, the Hollywood Sign, the Watts Towers, and the Disney Hall. To these, the Geffen Theater marks a significant addition. It becomes even more important because it is linked to the adaptive reuse of the May Company Building of 1939, now renamed the Saban Building.

 

The Geffen Theater, a concrete-and-glass sphere -150 feet in diameter – on the north side of the museum, seems to be suspended in space like a spaceship from another planet that just landed. It was first called “Death Star,” like the space station and galactic superweapon featured in Star Wars. Piano detests that label! He suggests “Dirigible,” “Zeppelin,” “Spaceship,’ “Flying Vessel,” “Soap Bubble.” I would call it “The Geffen Sphere.” Geffen means grapevine in Hebrew. The theater’s shape relates to the spherical grapes that produce the human finest drink, wine.

 

Context

Museum’s context: building, art

The museum is amid eclectic surroundings. The neighboring Pavilion of Japanese Art, designed by Bruce Goff and realized by Bart Prince, is the jewel of the lot. But there are others. The functional yet not exiting Resnik Pavilion, also designed by Piano; Michel Heizer’s “Levitated Mass,” intended to be a “large-scale” 340-ton granite megalith that in reality will remain minuscule in relation to the surroundings; across the Saban Building, the exhibitionist Petersen Automotive Museum red box structure wrapped in a series of convulsing steel ribbons; the now-under-construction $750-million LACMA Museum expansion, designed by another Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Peter Zumthor; and further away, the La Brea Tar Pits Park and Museum define a prehistoric area in total contrast to the Geffen Sphere’s modernity.

 

Some Details

 

The new 300,000 square-foot new museum includes 250,000 square-foot exhibition areas, the 288-seat Ted Mann Theater, the 1,000-seat David Geffen Theater, and the cascading glass-covered Dolby Family Terrace, where guests have stunning views of the LA skyline and the Hollywood Hills. Additional uses include the Shirley Temple Education Studio, the Debbie Reynolds Conservation Studio, the Fanny’s restaurant and café, and the Academy Museum Store.

 

The museum Director and President, Bill Kramer, was pivotal in the puzzle of coordinating the design team. It included Renzo Piano Building Workshop, executive architect Gensler, preservation architect John Fidler, structural engineers Buro Happold, general contractor MATT, and the exhibition’s designer, Kulapat Yantrasast, from Thailand, founder of the LA-based firm wHY. Yantrasast worked closely with Academy representatives and more than a dozen curators. They wrangled the Academy’s extensive array of film artifacts and memorabilia into immersive experiences rich with diverse narratives.

 Piano stripped the former May Co. department store to its bones. Then he created an atrium that contains the escalators and the elevators. A glass curtain wall entirely replaced the north façade of the Saban Building. The two parts of the building are connected by filigree steel-glass bridges. The bridges consist of glass roofs and parapet glazing. The museum’s massive, 690-panel theater is supported by four columns with seismic isolators and can move freely up to in an earthquake. The Geffen Sphere is covered by a steel-glass dome that has been manufactured and installed by the German firm Gartner.

 

“The idea of the sphere,” says RPBW project architect Jonathan Jones, “was to create an otherworldly object that transports you, as movies do.” With most of its form hovering above a pedestrian plaza, the sphere was envisioned, explains RPBW partner Luigi Priano, “almost like a spaceship—levitating above the ground, as if ready to take off as soon as the movie starts.”

 

Unlike many famous architects, past and present, Renzo Piano is not a mannerist of his style. He confronts projects open-mindedly, relating to the surroundings in many different ways. In the building that made him famous, the Pompidou Center, Piano and his British partner, Richard Rogers, approached the Parisian project through total contrast. On the other extreme, at The Fondation Jerôme Seydoux-Pathé, he developed the building inconspicuously, behind an entrance made by young August Rodin. In my film As We Saw It- Paris Builds, you may appreciate the contrast between this poetic project and Paris’ new huge Palais de Justice.

 

Beyond becoming a new icon in Los Angeles, the Geffen Sphere is a new landmark of architecture from now on.

The Wende A Museum of Art and Culture Behind the Iron Curtain

The Wende Museum is a unique depository of memories from the Eastern European countries beyond the Iron Curtain that endured Communism-labeled fascism during the Cold War. It is dedicated to preserving this period’s art, culture, and stories.

West and East Europe divided by the Curtain Wall

When my friend Elisa Leonelli sent me a recent article she wrote about her visits to The Wende, we followed after her steps. It was quite a surprise. We found very appealing both the museum’s content and the space that architect Christian Kienapfel of Paravant Architects created within Culver City’s old National Guard Armory.

Engels, Mark, Lenin, Stalin

 

Bust of Lenin, Istaravshan, Tajikistan, 1965

The Cold War era started with the end of World War II and ended with the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It was a conflict between American-led democratic capitalism and Russian-led Communism. It includes the atrocities committed by Stalin and the Gulag it created; it includes Russia’s invasion of Hungary and the Prague Spring’s crashing; and it also includes the obsessive period of McCarthyism that contributed to a distorted view of socialism.

The Wende Museum (wende in German means in English, “change, turning point”) is the brainchild of Justinian Jampol, its founder and director. It raises awareness to the world behind the Iron Curtain. Arts and artifacts, censured literature and publications, and human stories about everyday life can now be seen, read about, and listened to. The artifacts exhibited in the 13,000 square foot space are only a fraction of the collection, which is more geared to educate and entice curiosity rather than to enshrine masterpieces. Segal Shuart Landscape Architects designed a pleasant rear garden to accommodate outdoor events.

My personal experience with the subject is indirect. I heard stories from Ruth, who spent her teens in Communist Romania. While we were students in Rome, we befriended Romanian artist Ion Nicodim, who in 1963 made a tapestry, Ode to Man, (approximately 32 x 15 feet) that was donated by the Romanian government to the United Nations. We traveled throughout Romania during Ceaușescu’s regime and felt the oppression in the air. In 1976 we visited then Berlin divided Berlin. Years later, in 2018, we made two documentaries in the unified city.

Ode to Man, by Ian Nicodim, 1963

The film included in this article brings some visuals of paintings, murals, and monumental sculptures from that period (such as GDR’s painters Heinz Drache and Willi Sitte,) and also artworks by some Eastern European contemporary artists that became famous in the West, such as Christo and Marina Abramović, and younger ones still living in those countries, such as Pazza Pennello (Kyiv, Ukraine,) Jana Želibská (Bratislava, Slovakia,) and Ewa Juszkiewicz (Warsaw, Poland.)

The Wende Museum is an inducement not only to learn about a recent past but also to us warn about the dangers of fascist movements at the present time.

The Kiss – leonid brezhnev and Enrich Honecker, 2009, Berlin Wall

Frank Gehry 2021 A Playful Ninety-two Years Young Master

We are not surprised by Frank Gehry surprising us as an architect. We know that he is also prolific as an artist. What surprised me this time is that, at ninety-two, following a pandemic year when he had to lay 170 people working at his office, is that he has not stopped pushing the envelope of creativity. 

Gehry’s dual exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills (June 24 – August 6, 2021) is remarkable. The ground floor exhibition is titled Spinning Tales and shows several hanged Fish Lamps made for the first time in polyvinyl and copper. This last version of his fishes evolved through large-scale sculptures, such as Standing Glass Fish at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, 1986; the 22-meter high fish for a fish restaurant in Kobe, Japan, 1987; and El Peix (The Fish) at the Barcelona Olympics, 1992.

The upper floor immersive installation, Wishful Thinking, is based on a scene of Alice Adventures in Wonderland. Framing the show is a mirror wall and a textured chain-link fence. This artwork echoes preceding architectural works such as the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, 2000; the Marqués de Riscal Hotel, Elciego, Spain; and the Biomuseo in Panama City, 2014.

During the last nine years, I documented three of his architectural masterpieces: Disney Hall in Los Angeles in 2012, the Lou Ruvo Center for Mental Health in Las Vegas in 2013, and the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris in 2018. This is the first time that I approach his artwork unlinked to a building. Although the scale and complexity of architecture and art can be very different, this exhibition proves that one medium can feed into the other.

An Alternative Lifestyle? The Procedural Architecture of Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins

Arakawa & Gins from Rick Meghiddo on Vimeo.

The little-known architectural work of artists Arakawa and Gins carries a powerful message: we can design a sensory interaction with our surrounding environment to physically and emotionally impact what we become as humans. In doing this, we are offered an alternative lifestyle to spaces conditioned by functionalism.

This approach is substantially different than just being impacted emotionally by a space conceived to respond to a given program. In their work, the senses’ hyper-activation is a programmatic goal, even if it provokes discomfort. They see the creation of discomfort as a positive stimulant.

Arakawa and Gins investigate the body-environment relationship by producing situations that dismantle and allow reconfiguration of sensing, perception, and comprehension. They call this approach “procedural architecture.”

Shusaku Arakawa (1936-2010) was born in Nagoya, Japan, and moved to New York in 1961. He was one of the founding members of the Japanese avant-garde Neo Dadaism Organizers, strongly influenced by Marcel Duchamp’s ideas. In 1962 he met American poet Madeline Gins (1941-2014.) Born in the Bronx, she grew up in Long Island, studied physics and philosophy, and became a poet, writer, and philosopher. From then on, they became partners in their creative activities as a married couple.

Inspired by continuously transforming cells and by Leonardo’s approach to the interrelation between science and art, they insisted that research should be conducted “not in a library or laboratory, but where the living happens.” Their artwork and writings evolved towards architecture since the late 1980s.

The critical point of transformation from art to architecture is reflected in their “Process in Question / Bridge of Reversible Destiny and developed in 1987 as a 140-meter bridge over the Moselle in Espinal, France. The proposed unbuilt structure consisted of 21 sections that each offered different spatial experiences.

They suggested that the built environment should continuously challenge and surprise our senses. Although Frank Lloyd Wright had the same attitude on creating continuous changing spaces along the human path of his buildings, Arakawa and Gins saw these contiguous spaces as drastically different from another in form, texture, color, and light. They believed that changes in bodily perception would lead to changes in consciousness.

Arakawa and Gins first built architectural environment was the Site of Reversible Destiny in Yoro, Japan, completed in 1995. It is a 195,000 sq ft / 18,100 sq m park containing pavilions (referred to as architectural fragments,) undulating planes, shifting colors, disorienting spaces, 148 paths, and vegetation, including 24 breeds of herbs selected by Arakawa and Gins to emphasize the changing seasons.

The next built project is the Reversible Destiny Lofts in Mitaka, Tokyo, completed in 2005, with 8200 sq ft / 762 m2. It consists of nine residential units primarily utilizing three shapes: the cube, the sphere and the tube. Each apartment has a circular room at its center and includes three or four shapes. The floor of the central space is made of uneven compacted material. The entire complex is painted in fourteen colors.

In 2008 Arakawa and Gins completed a single-family home, the Bioscleave House, located in East Hampton, New York, as an “inter-active laboratory of everyday life.” At its center is a sunken kitchen and dining area surrounded by uneven floors.

Arakawa and Gins aspired to create buildings that people would “learn not die.” They firmly believed that their architectural works would impact the residents’ personal well-being and longevity and formalized their belief as the concept of “reversible destiny.”

Setting aside the belief-system that motivated and guided the Arakawa-Gins couple’s creativity, their contribution represents an important addition to the language of architecture.

For a visualization of the Arakawa and Gins approach to architecture, see the documentary “Children who won’t die,” (1 h 19 min) directed by Nobu Yamaoka.

PELLEGRIN Buildings and Visions for Spaceship Earth

Luigi Pellegrin was a visionary architect way ahead of his time. He realized that the human settlement, as created 35,000 years ago, must be reset now at a geographic scale and become an integral part of the planet. I believe that bringing Pellegrin’s work to public awareness during a global illness and uncertainty is vital for the re-invention of a post-pandemic world. 

His vision transcended Wright’s philosophy of organic architecture both in scale and time. His fantasy was grounded on a prolific professional practice and experience in prefabricated technology. His territory was that of the Earth’s crust. His history was the history of the universe. 

Vision of integrated habitat

The 20th Century produced a large number of highly-skilled architects, yet few delivered a transformative message. Le Corbusier’s saw the detachment of buildings from the ground as a way of expanding green open spaces; Frank Lloyd Wright’s interpreted the laws of nature and translated them into Organic Architecture design principles; Buckminster Fuller transcended land use by proposing a planetary vision of geography; and Paolo Soleri attempted to demonstrate an alternative human habitat by creating a walkable, social city that could meet the needs of future societies. Pellegrin, the least known of this small group of visionary thinkers, believed in PROCESS, in open-minded architectural research based on trial and error, like in science.

 

WORK

 Pellegrin assumed his social commitment through the design of popular housing and schools. His first period, 1955-1965, is characterized by a poetically organic approach to low-budget design, using simple construction materials. His artistic creativity exploded in the design of the via Aurelia bi-family house in Rome (1964.) The traditional box is crushed. The round living room is suspended in space like a bridge that rests on two multi-functional pilasters. The bedrooms, enclosed within triangular prisms, are perforated by windows that direct views and light as needed. This is an organic architecture expression, not-mimetic of Wright’s style.

During the 1965-1976 period, Pellegrin focuses his social commitment on the design of prefabricated schools. From kindergartens to high schools, he laboriously invested most of his energy in the design of articulated interior spaces, even when, given limited budgets, he had to simplify the buildings’ exteriors.

The accumulation of knowledge and creativity in prefabricated technology generated a gigantic design-jump in 1969, with the International Competition for the Design of the New University of Barcelona. Pellegrin’s concept had no precedent. He designed the common areas, such as libraries, sports facilities, and cafeterias on the ground, and suspended from the top, above these, classrooms to be used by the students as a circuit. The project won second prize. The jurors were not ready for such an outbreak.

The spatial concept for the University of Barcelona leads to another revolutionary project in 1970. The subject was a design competition for the ZEN Cardillo neighborhood in Palermo. While the ground was dedicated to commercial, social and cultural activities intertwined with green areas, the housing for 17,000 inhabitants was suspended in the space 30 to 90 feet above it. The structure was defined by 30 hollow pylons supporting the housing above, and its total footprint was 35% of a conventional project for the same number of inhabitants.

The ideas for the Barcelona and Palermo projects found their way in a design competition of two unified schools in Pisa. The program was complex. His design concept included the roof as a ramp that would become an open space accessible to the neighborhood, flexible classrooms on the top, and at the ground floor all the common services that could be used by the neighborhood when the classrooms were closed. The design was way ahead of his time. It was misunderstood by its users. Conservative teachers and city authorities asked for its demolition which was fought by many committed architects.

During the twenty-five years that followed the Pisa school’s building, Pellegrin’s prolific production moved in three parallel directions:

1. He continued to design and build prefabricated schools. It is notable to observe that out of 300 built buildings he produced, 200 were schools, 72 of which were built in Saudi Arabia.

2. He focused his research on the industrialization and mobility of components (roofs, walls, column-beams, residential tubes, emergency housing units) in many materials (concrete, aluminum, steel, fiberglass, bamboo.)

3. He expanded his research on integral urbanization at a geographic scale (habitat, services, commerce, mobility) through multi-directional and multi-use “vectors.” These complex structures were elevated like freeways not only over country fields, mountains, and historic places without altering them but also over artificial islands in the sea.

 WHO WAS PELLEGRIN?

 Pellegrin’s architecture was an expression of his will to change the world from the bottom up throughout his professional life. His upbringing was modest. His father, Paolo Pellegrin, was a construction worker from Italy’s northern region of Friuli, which borders the Veneto region, Austria, and Slovenia. When Paolo got a building job in Courcellette, ninety miles northeast of Paris, he took his family with him for the duration of the project. Luigi Pellegrin was born there in 1925. Although technically he was French, he saw himself as a son of Friuli, an area with a strong sense of identity, where people speak a regional dialect, have a unique cuisine, and are proud of their way of life.

 His humble origin and his contact with the proletariat of building sites molded his character and care for people’s needs, for excellent craftmanship, and for a sense of hard work to reach goals. Unlike many Italian architects and artists of his time, who manifested their concerns for social justice by joining the Communist Party, Pellegrin spent his mostly secluded life trying to elevate the people’s built environment with limited resources.

 He studied architecture at the University of Rome, but, fundamentally, he was a self-taught person, an acute observer of reality, visible or hidden, in the spirit of Leonardo Da Vinci.

 The one year he spent in New Orleans after graduation opened his horizons. He saw America as a land open to experimentation. When he visited Chicago and saw some of Sullivan and Wright’s works, he set his direction towards Organic Architecture. 

Back in Rome, he felt estranged from most architects but established an intellectual dialogue with Bruno Zevi, who had brought to Italy an awareness of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. This relationship developed into a not so easy 50-year long discussion. Zevi was Italy’s best historian and critic of architecture, the only one that Wright respected. Over the years he published most of Pellegrin’s works in L’Architettura. Yet, in 1974, he lamented: “Pellegrin was born to be a great architect, but he reduced himself to become a technician.”

 Although Pellegrin respected Zevi, he felt misunderstood by the master critic. For him, Wright was not only a genial architect but also as a thinker that transcended the Judeo-Christian and Greek philosophies that dominated Europe. Wright understood Buddhism and Taoism, Japanese art, and pre-Columbian civilizations. He believed in exploring the potential of materials and technologies and would have understood Pellegrin’s innovative productivity.

With Frank Lloyd Wright in Rome, 1956

MODUS OPERANDI

 Pellegrin’s studio was located at the heart of Rome’s historical center. The 18th Century building belonged to the Aldobrandini family. It was placed halfway between the Trevi Fountain and the Gregorian University, just across a small 17th Century church denominated Santa Croce e Santa Bonaventura de Lucchesi. The street was pebbled and had no sidewalks. The entrance to the building was through a large portal, sized to allow access to carriages. A smaller door was cut within it to allow people’s access. As in many old palaces, the ground floor was defined by a court decorated with marble busts and sculptures. A broad stairway led to the second floor, twenty feet above the ground floor.

 His work habits were unusual. He arrived at the office after errands in the city around noon, met with clients and consultants in the afternoon, left for dinner with his family, and returned to the studio at around 10:00 pm. That was when his design-time started. Surrounded by young architects, he worked until 4:00 am, seven days a week. 

Pellegrin spoke out aloud while designing so that everyone could follow his thinking process. We listened attentively, with music (Albinoni, Aretha Franklin) playing in the background.

 When he was relaxed, he spoke critically about many subjects: nature, science, history, art, politics, philosophy, literature, fashion, cinema, food, soccer. He could talk with the same ease about Michelangelo, Bernini, Borromini, Raphael, and Caravaggio on the one hand, and about Wright, Buckminster Fuller, Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Siqueiros on the other.

 His teaching method was indirect, not explicit. He gave clues to stimulate self-discovery through hard work. He thought that artists, mainly those of American Pop Art, understood the world better than architects. While New York’s artists adopted “the crude, the acid and the non-finished” for their artworks, most architects were busy creating monuments for posterity.

PELLEGRIN AND US

The students’ revolt of 1968 in Berkeley, Paris and Rome marked an era and defined a generation. It was punctuated by demonstrations, general strikes, and the occupation of universities and factories. The protests spurred movements worldwide, with songs, imaginative graffiti, posters, and slogans such as “Imagination to Power.”

The revolt was a protest against consumerism, American imperialism and traditional institutions. There were over half a million troops in Vietnam, who in less than a month had killed 37,000 of the ill-supported enemy. There were a counterculture and a revolution in social norms about clothing, music, drugs, and sexuality, all amplified by the lyrics of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon.

We were third-year students of architecture at the University of Rome. The school had been occupied. We were not part of the revolt, but we were actively becoming conscious of the times. The Club of Rome had been founded at the Academia dei Lincei by former heads of state, economists and business leaders from around the world. The world population, 3.6 billion at the time, was predicted to be 6 billion by the year 2000. It was 6.1 billion when the time came. Right on target.

 The view of the Earth from outer space generated a planetary self-consciousness. There was an acknowledgment of the world’s limited resources. Buckminster Fuller published a book under the title “Operating Manual of Spaceship Earth.” Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message” predicted the internet 30 years before it was invented.  

In the summer of 1968 we made a two-month drive to Scandinavia, mainly to visit and photograph the works of Alvar Aalto in Finland. We had in mind to arrive to Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) but we were in Stockholm when the Soviets invaded Prague and decided to change our plans. On our way back we visited Le Corbusier’s RonchampLa Tourette and the Unite d’Habitation in Marseilles. The trip gave us a direct experience with great contemporary architecture, and we were eager to follow into the steps of masters.

During the course of our fourth year of architecture, we started to think about our graduating theses. We asked Professor Bruno Zevi to be our tutor. He accepted but said that we should have a co-tutor, a practicing architect. “Chose anyone you want,” he said. Whom shall we choose? We wanted someone “organic,” with an affinity for Frank Lloyd Wright’s ideas. After investigating the works of a dozen architects in Rome, we narrowed down our list to three: Lucio Pasarelli, Maurizio Sacripanti and Luigi Pellegrin. When we saw one of Pellegrin’s smallest projects in Rome, a pavilion for selling flowers, we chose Pellegrin.

Trying to reach him was another story. For two months, we called several times a week and we were always told: “the architect is not available.” Nobody would set an appointment for us, and he never returned our calls. One day, already frustrated, I made a call from a public phone at school. “Yes?” answered a grave voice. It was Pellegrin. I told him why I called, and of the strong impression, we had had visiting the flower pavilion that he had designed. “Come next Thursday at midnight,” he said, and without adding any comment, he switched the line to his secretary, who gave us directions on how to enter the studio.

Luigi Pellegrin’s studio was located at the very heart of Rome’s historic Center, in an 18th Century building belonging to Aldobrandini noble family, halfway between the Trevi Fountain and the Gregorian University, and just across a small 17th Century church denominated Santa Croce e Santa Bonaventura de Lucchesi . The street was pebbled and had no sidewalks. The entrance to the building was through a large portal sized to allow access to carriages, in which a smaller door was cut to allow for people’s entrance. As in many old palaces, the ground floor was defined by a court decorated with marble busts and larger sculptures. A beautiful stair led to the second floor, which was about twenty feet above the ground floor.

Pellegrin’s quarters were divided into two separate areas. On one were the drafting rooms. On the other, facing the floor lobby, was a private area that included a reception room, a conference room, and his office. That was where he met his clients and professional consultants.  

We arrived on time at midnight. His secretary received us, let us know that the architect had not returned yet and that he will be late. She invited us to wait. We started to explore walls and shelves, containing samples of his work.  

Pellegrin arrived at about 2:00 AM. His presence was powerful. He was thin, with deep green eyes, a chiseled face, and abundant hair, undulated and almost entirely white, despite being only forty-three years old. He was well dressed, wore a green jacket, dark brown pants, and a tie. We shook hands. He apologized for being late and asked us to follow him. We walked through a conference room filled with blueprints of works in progress and entered into his private room. There were books everywhere: on the walls, over his table, on the floor, resting on chairs. His desk was laid out diagonally, with his chair facing the entrance. The only source of light was that of a drafting lamp attached to his desk. He lowered it to one side below the desk’s surface and asked us to sit down. Then he remained silent, waiting for us to start. I felt like being in a psychologist’s room.

We told him about ourselves, about Zevi’s request. I had written a few pages about my goals and he read them. Ruth told him about her ideas. We showed him drawings of our first joint projects, a public library, and a condominium tower. He looked at them in silence. Taking a deep breath, he said: “They are extrusions, thought in plan only. The generator of architectural space is the section, and the section is not there. Organic architecture cannot be an extrusion nor an addition. The tower is both.” Then he continued: “I can read the inspiration from Wright but if you want to have and architectural education, you must study Wright for six months. Read him, analyze his work. Wright’s works are not extrusions or additions. They are spaces to be walked through, to be lived in.”

He asked some questions about our relationship to Israel. Why Israel? Although he never visited it, he spoke as if he knew everything about it. He then faced me and said: “You can write. Write an essay titled “California today and Israel in the year 2000.” To Ruth he said, “start drawing.” “How do you know I can draw?” Ruth said with a humorous tone. “It is written on you,” he answered without smiling. During the two hours we spent with him, he never smiled. By 4:00 AM we felt a deep sense of connection. He shook our hands once again, walked us to the floor’s lobby, and continued towards the drafting rooms’ area.

We started to go periodically to Pellegrin, to get reviews on our theses. He was a harsh critic. Ruth’s subject was an integrative center for the arts in Jerusalem. Mine was a university in Eilat, specialized in oceanology. Since he had decided to participate in an international competition for the design of the University of Barcelona’s new campus, a subject related to both our theses, he offered to both of us to come and work at his studio through the competition’s design process. We were thrilled.

He gave Ruth a small room adjacent to his office. Handing her a rough schematic of “dwelling units suspended in space” drawn with thick colored markers (the genesis of many future projects,) he asked her to put it to scale. Then he took me to his conference room and, pointing at a mountain of books piled over the table, he said: “All these are related to the design of campuses and university buildings. Read them, and when you are done, summarize for me what you learned and what is relevant for the competition.” When I did, a month later, he said: “you have not understood a thing.” In his eyes, the old concept of campus with separate buildings for each faculty had become obsolete.

His submission to the competition was revolutionary. The classrooms were suspended in space, with all the common facilities on the ground. He won the second prize. The jurors were not ready for such an innovative project.

In 1972, when we returned from our Wright pilgrimage and stopped in Rome on our way to Israel, we went to visit him. He proposed for us to stay “for a while” and join him. There were many projects going on: a dozen prefabricated schools, a development for the island of Goree in Senegal and the country’s presidential residence, studies for prefabricated hotels, and continuous research on habitats. Our “shortstop” lasted for sixteen months. A lifelong impacting experience. 

One day he convened some consultants and the office’s architects at 10:00 PM. We all sat in the conference room. He said: “During the last year I lost several design competitions for schools. The deadline for the competition on the design of two unified schools in Pisa is in ten days. I decided to submit an entry.”

 It seemed “mission impossible.” The project was large, and the program complex. He presented his concept: The roof as a ramp that would become an open space accessible to the neighborhood; the flexible classrooms on the top, and the servicing areas on the ground floor, so that all common services could be used by the neighborhood when the classrooms were closed.

 Discussions followed until 6:00 AM. When the meeting was over, he called Ruth and me, handed us a set of keys and a big bag containing an expensive Hasselblad camera with interchangeable lenses, and said: “Take my car, photograph the site in Pisa (220 miles away,) come back and leave the negatives for development at the photography laboratory. I’ll see you tonight.”

 Twelve hours later we were back in Rome, took a nap (after 32 sleepless hours,) and returned to the studio at 10:00 PM. During the following days, two shifts of architects and drafting technicians worked 24 hours a day to prepare drawings for the competition. A month later, we found a handwritten paper stuck at the entrance of the studio that read: “This studio of incompetent designers won the First Price at the Pisa Competition.”

We went back to Israel in April 1973 and started our own practice in September, one month before the Yom Kippur War. In December of 1974 we won a conceptual competition for a 5,000 dwelling-unit neighborhood influenced by Pellegrin’s ideas.

During the years that followed, we maintained periodic contacts by phone, and during our visits to Rome. Our last encounter was in August of 1998. He made arrangments to have lunch together for five consecutive days. We were in California when we got notice of his death, on September 15, 2001. His ashes rest in Domanins, San Giorgio in Richinvelda, Friuli, at his father’s grave.

It took me almost twenty years to decide to make this documentary, during the Convid-19 pandemic. Pellegrin’s message for the re-design of the world has become more tangible now than ever before. We have all to contemplate a radical transformation of life on Earth. The young generation of architects and those following them will benefit from studying Pellegrin’s work, not as a template to copy but as a way of thinking. 

Leonardo vs. Coronavirus Renaissance Thinking to Rethink our Lifestyle


Raphael (1483-1520) was twenty-six years old when he started to paint The School of Athens at the Vatican. To represent Plato arguing with Aristotle at the center of the fresco, Raphael depicted him as Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519), who, at the time, was fifty-seven years old.  He is making a gesture characteristic of Leonardo: his right index is pointing up to the heavens.

Five hundred and one years after Leonardo’s death, the heavens have fallen upon Planet Earth with a virus, COVID-19, commonly known as Coronavirus. What would Leonardo have done if he had to confront such a pandemic?

Leonardo’s areas of interest included drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, science, engineering, literature, scenography, paegentry, astronomy, botany, paleontology and cartography. The meaningful importance of immersing himself into such a wide range of subjects is in bringing the experiences in one field into another.

His skills as an artist allowed him to draw the human anatomy that he learned through dissections, and his learning from anatomy allowed him to express muscles and gestures on the surface of his subjects. Mona Lisa’s mysterious smile could not have been painted without his understanding of how the lips muscles function. He designed flying machines after observing how birds fly. His observation of rivers helped him to conceive a new capital for France, Romorantin, which included two palaces and waterways for outdoor spectacles, irrigation, street cleaning, flushing out horse stables and carrying away rubbish.

Leonardo was a genius, but he was not the only one navigating multiple subjects. Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) studied and wrote about physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, politics, government, ethics, biology and zoology. Renaissance men include Michelangelo (1475 – 1564,) Galileo (1564 – 1642,) Franklin (1706 – 1790,) Jefferson (1743 – 1826,), Goethe (1749-1832,) Einstein (1879 1955,) Albert Schweitzer (1875 – 1955,) and more recently, Buckminster Fuller (1895 – 1983,) ( Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011) and Calatrava (1951.)

Learning from Leonardo include being relentlessly curious, seeking knowledge for its own sake, retain a childlike sense of wonder, observe details carefully, get distracted, find time to loaf, let the perfect be the enemy of the good, think visually, wander across all the disciplines of the arts, sciences, engineering and humanities, indulge fantasy, create for yourself, not just for patrons, collaborate, take notes, be open to mystery. Practicing mental mapping and lateral thinking may help.

There is some good news from having to get secluded in our home. We learn that much of the work we do can be done without having to spend hours driving and burning tons of carbon. We may learn from China’s capability of building two hospitals in two weeks by developing methods to accelerate the construction of housing.

Coronavirus won’t be the last cataclysm that humanity will have to confront. As the world population continues to grow towards 10-12 billion people by the end of the century. We are challenged by colossal problems such as sustainability, climate change and increasing urbanization. We must change our lifestyle, and to do that, we must change our way of thinking. The renaissance way of looking at reality offers us an important path.

 Despite all the fear that the Coronavirus is spreading in the world, perhaps there is also good that will come of this, perhaps this is the time to rethink our value systems, to reunite with family members and even wit ourselves.

 Maybe a little perspective of what really matters to us is a lesson that it takes a pandemic to teach. Maybe it takes an “excuse” like Covid-19 to create.

Last Supper, 1490

Connecting Edges Wake-up Calls from DocuDay to Jane Fonda


Connecting Edges is a film about five unrelated events that I experienced during the second week of February 2020: DocuDay, the Oscars, a pre-screening of the TV series HuntersFrieze Los Angeles, and a presentation by Jane Fonda of the restored film F.T.A. from 1972.
I thought of connecting dots between subjects that they contained: war, the threat to democracy, inequality, art, and architecture-related contradictions. Putting them together attempts to sound a warning for the times we live.

The Events

  1. DocuDay is a yearly event organized by the International Documentary Association. The day preceding the Oscars, ten nominated documentaries – five features and five shorts – are shown from 8:30 AM to midnight. Q&As follows each screening.
  2.  Watching the Oscars, together with another 23 million people. I correctly predicted two winners: the Korean Parasite and Joaquin Phoenix acting in Joker.
  3. Pre-screening of a pilot for a television series, Hunters. The message: fighting anti-Semitism. 
  4. Frieze Los Angeles, an international contemporary art fair showing emerging and established artists alongside a program of talks, films, and artists’ projects. The three-day event happens at the backlot movieset of Paramount Pictures Studios. 
  5. A presentation by Jane Fonda of the film F.T.A. from 1972, restored by HFPA (Hollywood Foreign Press Association,) at the American Cinematheque. 

Connecting Dots

War. The two Oscar-nominated documentaries, The Cave and For Sama, both showing the crude realities of Syria’s civil population being bombarded daily by President Bashar Hafez al-Assad forces and by Russians’ airplanes. It has been realized by extraordinarily courageous filmmakers (four crew members lost their lives during the filming of The Cave.) Listening live to surviving witnesses – the main characters of both films – was heartbreaking. And listening to Jane Fonda presenting the anti-war film F.T.A. almost half a century after is was done raises the question: will we ever learn?

The threat to democracy. The Brazilian documentary The Edge of Democracy shows a reality that could spread to other democratic countries, including the United States. The resemblance between far-right President Jair Bolsonaro (“Well, the pope may be Argentinian, but God is Brazilian”) and President Trump (“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?”) is amazing. The dots also connect to Joaquin Phoenix’s speech at the Oscars and to some aspects of Joker’s message. Warnings about the dangers of resurrecting Fascism are also present in the TV-series Hunters.

Inequality. Director Bong Joon-ho’s film Parasite is more than just Oscar’s big winner. It is a film that also sends a warning about inequality and what it may lead to. A new French Revolution?

Art. The film Honeyland is one of the most poetic documentaries I have seen. Some of the scenes seem to be painted by Caravaggio. It also brings us to see a hidden world in a remote land, where resilience is key to survival. Its authenticity is in plain contrast to much of the artworks that I have seen at Frieze.  

Architecture-related contradictions. Putting together images of Paramount’s backlot fake New York facades, of Brasilia’s out-of-human-scale formalisms, of Honeyland’s main character house and of the caravan in which her new neighbors reside open serious questions about the future of architecture as expressed by Frank Lloyd Wright: “The future of architecture is the future of humanity; if humanity has a future, so will architecture.”

'>Vernissage at the Hammer The Opening of the Hammer Museum's "Winter Exhibitions Opening Celebration" Illustrates the Public's Attendance and the Works of Four Artists

The Hammer Museum’s latest vernissage, “Winter Exhibitions Opening Celebration,” was unexpected at various levels. The biggest surprise was seeing how many people of all ages attended. It was a welcomed abnormality, a good sign that there is life after Trump, climate change, and long wish-lists of We The People. The first impacting artwork was at […]