Monday, September 28, 2009

Sir Peter Hall Speaks at Berkeley College of Environmental Design 50-Year Celebration

It’s not often anymore that Sir Peter Hall comes to the United States. So when he does, it must be important. Hall, legendary urban planner whose pinnacle work entitled “Urban and Regional Planning” is the well-recognized bible of landscape history, was front and center stage at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Berkeley College of Environmental Design September 25 through the 27th doing what he has done throughout his long and esteemed career: promoting a change in urban design that will create communities that are livable and sustainable.

Hall was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1998 for services to the Town and Country Planning Association, and in 2003 was named by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as a “Pioneer in the Life of the Nation” for recognition of his services to establish rigorous design protocol throughout the United Kingdom, and to push forward on the British Rail Chunnel Link project, is Professor of Planning and Regeneration at the Bartlett School of Architecture and Planning, University College, London and Professor Emeritus of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley. He has maintained a long and vibrant relationship at Berkeley and has influenced the direction many graduates of the architecture program have pursued in their careers.

Hall called upon members of the architecture profession to revise their thinking and consider ways in which to make communities thrive within the context of a model that is environmentally collaborative. He cited examples of residential developments, such as those in Portland, Oregon, that succeeded in approaching this goal, but stressed that much more needs to be done and that without the backing of government and public recognition of the importance of a new model, it is very difficult to make meaningful and lasting change.

The Acropolis Museum: Tschumi's Masterpiece

The ancient Greeks, revered for their phenomenal and lasting contributions to architecture, philosophy, foundational science, and the body politic, have every reason to smile down proudly on their descendants in 2009. This year marks the opening of the Acropolis Museum in Athens, a structure which effectively merges every aspect of the ancient Greek contribution to the world order, and elevates it into once again to the realm of the ethereal. Swiss architect Bernard Tschumi has really outdone himself, bestowing on the world an architectural statement that provides an unimagined joinder of ancient architecture and archeology with the all that is wonderful about new technology, building material and construction processes, landscape architecture, and palpable espirit.

The museum has been under planning and construction for well over a decade, and fell years behind schedule, having at one time been heralded to open for the Olympics in 2004. It was looked upon by most Greeks as a space that would house the many treasures literally spilling forth from the existing, small museum situated on high adjacent to the Parthenon of the Acropolis. What few expected was that when finished, the new museum would not only perfectly complement one of the most recognized architectural works on Earth, but would approach it in grandeur and popularity. More than 4,000 works are displayed at the museum, making this collection the largest of ancient Greek antiquities on Earth.

The brilliance of Tschumi’s design is his choice of geographic juxtaposition of the museum to the site it honors. Seated at the base of the Acropolis, only 1,000 feet from the Parthenon, the museum’s entrance opens toward the Parthenon giving visitors a chance to pay homage as they pass through the doors. From the outside, the museum’s mass of grey concrete does not overwhelm the site, as some critics feared it would. The museum is indeed an enormous structure, modern in design and material, highly visible, but seemingly so at home in its venue as to make Athenians press themselves to remember what structures occupied the space before. It is integrated, so much that even despite its monumental size, no part obtrudes. The museum sits near the border of Plaka in Makryianni, the oldest area of Athens, and marks a rare departure from rigid zoning regulations that prohibit construction not in keeping with the period. Predictably, when digging for the foundation began, ancient ruins were discovered throughout the site. What might have threatened the project before it even got started proved a worthy challenge for Tschumi and one that he resolved with a feat of creative genius: he used a glass ramp and a number of glass panels for the entry space and floor that enable visitors to peer beneath the edifice to witness the marvel of ruins just as appeared when first uncovered. The glass floor theme continues all the way to the uppermost level, and creates a drama that is mimicked outside the building where holograms of Greek statues create a frieze as beautiful as it is memorable.

Inside the museum, the richest display of ancient Greek statuary and other antiquities await. The lines within the building are dramatic and bold, yet the space througout is highly accessible.

During his tenure as Dean of the School of Architecture at Columbia University, Tschumi, whose office is in New York, was hailed for his ability to connect people. In this work, he has surpassed himself, satisfying a critical and often overlooked function of architecture: to create a conversation between the new and the old. There is a tremendous and meaningful communication between the Acropolis Museum and the great architectural patrimoine of Athens --and a visit to one compels a visit to the other. As with the truly great works of architecture, the Athens landmark becomes much less about a specific venue, and much more about an experience. It has served to open Greek history to the world, and from the hundreds of thousands of visitors who have already made the pilgrimage to the museum, this is a history people clearly want to discover.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Real, the Symbolic, and the Imaginary

A program of acousmatic and computer music nestled into the magnificent Neo-Renaissance Theater at the Italian Academy at Columbia University last night.

It included two works by Luigi Ceccarelli, Inferi for electroacoustic sound and Birds for clarinet and electroacoustic sound. The composer was on hand and received appreciative applause from the audience

The video piece, Qayada for electroacoustic sound and video by Alex Ness, brought the medium of the downtown Chelsea art scene uptown. While the video is more sophisticated downtown, the accompanying audio often seems an afterthought. Uptown, the music is more heavily invested, but the video more simplistic. The placement of the screen behind microphones and chair backs created visual distraction.

Limerence by Paula Matthusen scored for banjo and electroacoustic music presented interesting aual experiences. Judy Klein's Railcar for electroacoustic sound hinted at sadness and deportation.

Sponsored by Federazione CEMAT-SONORA, Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, NYU Department of Music, and others

Friday, September 25, 2009

Blue Rider

Four dancers from Armitage Gone! accompanied the Brentano String Quartet last evening at the opening of the Miller Theater at Columbia University.

Leonides D. Apron, Megumi Eda, William Isaac, and Mei-Hua Wang danced in pairs with the second movement of Schoenberg’s String quartet no. 2. The music floated by. The pairs went their separate ways from it, as well as from each other, EXCEPT when the females assumed angry faces and made physical, ward-off connections with each other. The movement was brisk, with lots of very skillful arm and leg motions. The stage was heavily-darkened. The performers wore dark clothing, although the dancers' transitioned from dark on the bottom to gray on top.

The concert titled The Blue Rider in Performance was produced by the Miller Theatre and Works & Process at the Guggenheim, using materials from Vasily Kandinsky and Franz Marc’s seminal Blue Rider Almanac of 1912.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vernissages | NYC, Allan Kaprow at Hauser & Wirth, September 23

Yard, a recreation of an oustanding environment of the late artist Allan Kaprow opens at the newly re-opened gallery Hauser andWirth, at the same gallery space formerly known as Zwirner and Wirth. The environment has been "re-presented" by the performance artist William Pope, at the same site where
Allan Kaprow first installed it in 1961; the townhouse at 32 E69 Street was back then home to the Martha Jackson Gallery.

Allan Kaprow was one of the most innovative and prolific contemporary artists and his work spanned through many different art media and languages, from painting to conceptual and performance art. Initially an abstract expressionist painter He created the art forms of happenings and environments, from their very first beginnings in the late 1950s and early 1960's. Art as experience and interaction between the art work and public was one of the main contents of Kaprow's work. The artist wrote “Life is much more interesting than art,” and “The line between art and life should be kept as fluid, and perhaps indistinct, as possible.”

Definitely Yard calls for interaction with the viewer: a pile of black rubber auto tires and tarpaper required visitors to jump and crawl between them. The exhibition continue in the second floor with sketches and drawings. The installation was represented by Kaprow eight times after the initial installation.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

EVENTS NYC | Book Launch: Dennis Oppenheim "Public Projects" at Storefront for Art and Architecture

Dennis Oppenheim presented his works of four decade including public sculptures commissioned by various countries around the world at the Storefront for Art and Architecture for the book launch of his monograph entitled Public Work published by Charta. The book includes over a hundred and fifty projects and proposal photographs, drawings, model and renderings, as well as conversations between Dennis Oppenheim, Vito Acconci, Liam Gillick and Aaron Betsky.

Events | Fall Equinox 2009 at Sun Farm

E Q U I N O X  2009

e q u i n o x       [from Latin aequinoctium : aequi,equal+ nox, night]

Equinox, in space, is either of two points on the celestial sphere at which the ecliptic intersects the celestial equator.
Equinox, in time, is either of the two times during a year when the sun crosses the celestial equator and when the length of day and night are approximately equal: the vernal equinox or the autumnal equinox.
In Buddhism the equinox is referred to as O-Higan. It is related to crossing over from the material plane to the spiritual plane. Thus it is a period, in both spring and fall, when the provisional world and the absolute are in close alignment. It is a time for reflection and interpenetration of our lives to connect with all sentient beings and our environment.

At Sun Farm we celebrate the spring and fall equinox, as a moment to focus on our connection with the environment, celebrate with the surrounding nature the balance of day and night as light and darkeness.

Sunrise at Sunrise Trellis

Sunset at Sun Mandala

Jain Images (with Music)

The Rubin Museum of Art's magnificent show on Jain Images of Perfection has a wonderful surprise--a music piece--i.e, Jain devotional music from Pune, India. So nice to move beyond the tyranny of the eyes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Vernissages, Camminando | Varies, Including a Sunset on September 17

I am taking my six-mile stroll, heading downtown Eleventh Avenue. An these are my urban & art encounters:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Vernissages | NYC, Dennis Hopper at Tony Shafrazi, September 12

Dennis Hopper's exhibition Signs of the Times includes a vast selection of the actor/artist's 1960s photographs, twelve "billboard paintings," and video excerpts from Hopper's work as an actor and director in film and television.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Vernissages | September 10, NYC

Second "Grand" (?!?) opening day of the fall 2009 art season in NYC... A long list of vernissages, it will be difficult to follow up with all of them. My taxonomy mania would lead to genre, but my time/transportation limitations leads me to a more realistic geography proximity based tour.

I start with Soho, with Allan Wexler's display of archi/design conceptual chairs:

Allan Wexler at Ronald Feldman

I move to Chelsea, wonder through the 529 West 20th, not so exciting to me, quite traditional and expected work. PW at W22, Maya Lyn's landscape interests me, but when I arrive the pusher at the door does not let me in, too late. Usual story in NYC, too much, too little time, hard to choose and prioritize...
I continue to Marlborough, at W25 St, hosting Will Ryman's A New Beginning : meagsculptures of flowers from 2' to 7'. The sculptures are hand made (by the artist himself) of steel, epoxy, aluminum, plaster and paint, and grouped in clusters of three at the base. Sculptures of urban waste ---cigarettes, beer cans, paper cups--- are combined with the flowers. Ryman chose to reproduce roses as  the rose is, in the artist's words "the most recognizable flower and most symbolic across the world"

Will Ryman's at Marlborough

More hyperreality from "nature" at One Doosan, with deer, branches and twigs by Myeongbeom Kim,

Getting tired and moving uptown, a final glance to the overcrowded W26th Street:

My final impression / question of the day: "What's art got to do it?"