Friday, June 27, 2008

Oscar & Carmen in Rio

Visiting the Carmen Miranda Museum in Rio de Janeiro, the meeting of two different versions of Brazilian modernism seem to come together - the organic brutality of Oscar Niemeyer's architecture and the voluptuous kitsch of Carmen Miranda, the "Brazilian Bombshell". Both versions find expression in the Niemeyer-designed Museum. The concrete circular form located in an out-of-the-way park in the Flamengo neighborhood was designed in the 1960s and houses various displays of Carmen's own dresses, notorious platform-shoes (from the 1930s & 40s), and related ephemera - photographs lodged into every possible corner like a frieze made up of Carmen's smile and banana head dresses, with Latin-flavored pin-ups of the star. The outlandishness of Carmen's wardrobe, her excessive lifestyle - Hollywood nights, Copacabana nightclubs, movie-sets, radio spots, fashion modeling, and general jet-setting all came to symbolize a notion of Brazilian modernism imported onto the international stage. In parallel, Niemeyer's languid and poetical architecture typified such modernism by infusing European rationalism with a distinct Brazilian biomorphism - the swooping curve of Niemeyer's architecture supplements the European grid of steel and glass, finding form in concrete circles and ramps poised against the new urbanism rising up in Brazilian cities at the same time Carmen was singing "Bananas Is My Business." While Niemeyer's Museum is often seen as an absolute contrast to Carmen Miranda's work, I see them as forming a poignant and insightful coupling onto Brazilian culture of the 20th century. The Museum allows a glimpse onto both versions of a single story, marking the space as a radical expression of museological work.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

duty free

DUTY FREE is a twenty-one day long sculpture in the Leipzig/Halle airport by Erik Göngrich and Stefan Shankland taking place from the 18.6 to the 6.7.2008. They have taken over the airport’s duty free shop and transformed it into their studio. It has become a place of production, experimentation and exchange about the form and function of sculpture in a context of globalisation. During the three weeks of the international festival Theater der Welt the space will be open for public interaction from 4pm to 8pm Tuesday to Saturday and from 2pm to 6pm on Sundays (closed on Monday).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

border strategies

I recently stumbled across this alternative border strategy. I especially like the yoga class pictured here...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Marco Kusumawijaya and the Mak Urban Future Initiative

Last week I attended a dinner organized by Linda Pollack for artists working with urban spaces to meet the first fellow of the Mak center's new Urban Future Initiative at the Fitzpatrick-Leland House. The house was recently donated to the Mak center and the house will be home to the visiting international fellows for stays of around two months. Tonight Marco - who is the first fellow and an architect and environmentalist from Indonesia - presented his research at the Schindler house in West Hollywood. It was a stimulating conversation in terms of thinking about imagining forms of sustainable urbanism. Marco highlighted the Grand Avenue development as a potential opportunity to experiment with sustainable development and admitted his skepticism about the current state of the project proposal. He also spoke a lot about transportation in L.A.

The Fitzpatrick-Leland House as photographed by Julius Shulman in 1936

And by Tom Queally in 2006