Tomas Saraceno's Floating Spaces

November 05, 2013

Tomás Saraceno's floating spaces are growing in scale and impact. Wonderful this spider web at the K21 Ständehaus in Düsseldorf on show till next year and his cloud cities project.

Tomás Saraceno seems to have found in the art world the experimental ground that architecture fails to provide. A trained architect born in Argentina and living in Germany, Tomás has been imagining bubbles, cloud cities and other fluid spaces for quite some time. His understanding of "space" gives an insight to his work: 
"What space is? I don't know... A pure negotiation between people? Space is something we can share. It is continuously invented and reinvented by the way we relate and interact to each other. Space is undefined; the collaboration between people creates it. The audience is important, they make the piece..."

In Orbit 2013 / Photo by Studio Saraceno
In Orbit  is a lightweight structure conceived for the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, K21 Ständehaus, in Germany. It spans 25 meters above a covered courtyard and consists of 3 levels of steel wire mesh that are kept apart with huge inflated balls. The visitors can move freely on all 3 levels, floating like spiders.

Other works by Saraceno include Cloud City, 16 stainless steel modules linked together with acrylic floors for the Metropolitan Museum in NYC and an inflated walkable roof at the Hangar Bicocca in Milan. 
On the Roof: Cloud City, 2012, MET NYC / Photo by Studio Saraceno
On Space Time Foam, 2012, Hangar Bicocca Milan / Photo by Studio Saraceno
Cloud City, 2012 / Studio Saraceno

Galaxies Forming along Filaments, Like Droplets along the Strands of a Spider's Web, 2009, Venice Biennale / Photo by PS
Another great project Tomás was involved in is The Cloud, a proposal for the Olympic Park in London done in collaboration with the MIT Senseable City Lab that sadly lost against Kapoor's Arcelor Mittal Orbit Tower.

The Cloud, Olympic Park London, 2009
Everything we can think off, can be. So, if Saraceno has clouds in his mind, sooner or later we'll all experience the sky.

Tomás Saraceno / In Orbit / 22 June 2013 - autumn 2014 (estimated)  / K21 Ständehaus Düsseldorf
The Cloud / Olympic Park London 2009
Cloud Cities / The Endless Series 2006

Cover picture by Studio Tomás Saraceno

Aten Reign: James Turrell's New Space at the Guggenheim New York

July 05, 2013

A new piece by James Turrell - the L.A.-born master of light and perception - reshapes the rotunda of Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim. Aten Reign, the site-specific installation and the centre piece of the artist's solo show that opened on the summer solstice, modifies the daylight from the skylight with a series of concentric ellipses that glow in shifting colours.

Aten Reign is not quite a Skyspace, according to the artist, but a Skylight Space. Skyspaces are Turrell's notorious pavilions with smooth walls and an opening in the roof to contemplate the sky.

The Guggenheim's Skylight Space is a vast elliptical cone made with concentric bands of stretched fabric that increase in size towards the bottom and are lined with computer controlled LED lighting. The installation is experienced from below.

Aten Reign creates what Turrell describes as "an architecture of space created with light". In the words of Hilla Rebay, the Guggenheim's first director, "the work promotes a state of meditative contemplation [...], rekindling the museum's founding identity as a temple of spirit".

Reviews have been hard. Ariella Budick from the FT said: "the LED-powered procession of luscious colours has become a cliché of architectural décor [...]. It’s not Turrell’s fault that he pioneered such a successful medium; it’s always hard for an original to compete with knock-offs. But his art depends on fresh wizardry for its effect." Despite reviews, I thought the space was brilliant.

Picture by Jillian Steinhauer
James Turrell / till 25 September 2013 / Guggenheim Museum / New York City
James Turrell installations around the globe

Andreas Tjeldflaat, 2012 © SRGF

Spaces by Cildo Meireles

June 20, 2013

Great solo exhibition of the Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles in Madrid and a rare opportunity to experience his sensuous and highly conceptual spaces. Hosted in a former exhibition pavilion inside the Retiro park, the show features large installations that play with light, heat, deception, and nicely unusual, slightly retro concepts. 

Olvido, one of the most conspicuous works on show. Indian tipi made with 6,000 banknotes from all the American countries and placed over three tons of bones surrounded by a candle wall.

Olvido, 1987-89

Pintura#1, low level pipe crossing a dark room.

Pintura#1, 1999-2000

Entrevendo, 9m long timber tube with a hot air fan to one side

Entrevendo, 1970/1994

Volumes Virtuais, lovely space creation

Volumes Virtuais, 1969/2009

Amerikkka, a floor of 20,050 eggs under a suspended ceiling made with 76,150 bullets pointing downwards

Amerikkka, 1991/2013

Marulho, 1:1 pier above a sea of books picturing water

Marulho, 1991/1997

Marulho, 1991/1997

Para Pedro, 1984/1993

Brasilia's Masterplan by Lucio Costa

Cildo Meireles / conceptual artist born in Rio de Janeiro (1948) and raised in Brasilia. He lives and works in Rio.

24 May - 29 September 2013 / Palacio de Velázquez, Parque del Retiro / Madrid
26 October 2013 - January 2014 / Fundaçao Serralves / Porto
6 March - 1 June 2014 / HangarBicocca / Milan

Pictures by PS. Cover photo Amerikkka,  1991/2013

ARCOMadrid 2013

February 28, 2013
Dario Urzay, Lego en la Materia, 2013
Adequate and restraint is how you would tag the 32th edition of Arco, Madrid's international art fair. Very few jaw-dropping moments but admirable efforts by galleries and management to keep up the show.

The 2013 Arco edition starts with a lot of tension: a skyrocketed VAT on works of art and a disappearing budget from Spanish institutions, once serious acquisitors. Nevertheless, plenty of aspects for lauding this edition: the highest international participation ever, many invited private collectors and professional buyers, an online service to purchase artwork up to 5,000and Turkey as a focus country. Arco's director Carlos Urroz continues his good work. However, and as I already suggested last year, it would be great if Arco offered a different value proposition. Something that would turn it to a unique and extraordinary event...

Back to the art, Solo Objects, a new section for large artworks, has been striking. Big objects in a vast space, suggestively lit.... Quite dramatic.

Alice Aycock, Spin-the-Spin. Background, Guillermo Mora, Entre tu y yo. 2012

Clara Montoya, 2 (x,y,z), 2012

Susy Gómez, Lejos de expresiones completamente automáticas, 2012

Else, there were few installations or sculptures at this Arco edition. One of those few was the series "men & bricks" by Portuguese artists Baltazar Torres at the Mario Sequeira Gallery. Torres's little men on, around and under bricks managed extremely well to convey the construction-bubble-burst anxiety.  Another interesting installation, We Are One Body, by Eulalia Valldosera on show at Studio Trisorio, shows footage of recent riots in Athens on an ancient-looking amphora.

Baltazar Torres
Eulalia Valldosera, We Are One Body, 2012
Wonderful textures by Mexican artist Bosco Sodi at the Galeria Carles Tache.

Bosco Sodi, Untitled, 2012

The Infra series by Richard Mosse, on show at the Leyendecker Gallery, has been around for a couples of years, however, it is always great to see. Mosse's project is impressive. Shot in Eastern Congo with a colour infrared film (Kodak's Aerochrome), he portraits the conflict in a way where beauty transcends the pain or horror. Romantic, but grotesquely so, rather surreal. All together a different approach to war photography. In Mosse's words:
 "I feel strongly that something that is 'just made up' can speak more powerfully and more clearly than a work of journalism"

Richard Mosse, Infra
Incredibly powerful was Guy Tillim's shot of the South Pacific sea at the German Gallery Kuckei+Kuckei. The photograph, called Haapiti, Moorea, is a landscape of the sea with rather dull colours and an equally so composition. Despite this, or rather because of it, the shot is amazing. In a talk at the Lannan Foundation on July 2011 Guy gives away his take on landscape photography when he says: 
"Perhaps the scene is only beautiful when all the elements are palpably part of the whole. [...] There are obvious ways to convey the components of the scene, either through detail or monumentally. But what of that which lies in between? The indeterminate space that conveys the texture, its feeling, its sensation, its quotidian elements alongside the spectacular. I think there isn't an answer because each scene is a place of meditation, of emptiness. It provides its own context because in a certain way of looking it cannot be anywhere else. What is photographed? Nothing and everything, when you have no desire to leave the frame".
Guy Tillim is a South African award-winning photographer who has worked as a news photographer for Reuters and Agence France Press. Similar to Richard Mosse (mentioned above), Guy has documented the conflict in the DR Congo focusing on the details of everyday life rather than on the bloodshed. Congo Democratic is a fascinating series shot in Kinshasa during the 2006 general elections and Soldiers (2002), a series of black-and-white portrays of child soldiers in Eastern Congo. 
Guy Tillim, Haapiti, Moorea, 2011
Back-lit photograph by Raffaela Mariniello at the Studio Trisorio, Naples, at Arco for the first time.

Raffaela Mariniello

Surprisingly, there seemed to be no 3D printed objects at this Arco edition. Watch the space for next one. For a moment I thought that Photo-topography by Carlos Garaicoa at Galeria Elba Benitez was 3D printed but it turned to be a photograph transferred to polyspan. Good work still.

Carlos Garaicoa, Photo-topography, 2012
A video projection on suspended water bottles was the great installation by Daniel Canogar at the Madrid based gallery Max Estrella, which also showed an intriguing rained mirror by Jorge Perianes.

Daniel Canogar
Jorge Perianes

Aglaia Conrad, featured last year, presented Carrara Cuts at the Nadja Vilenne Gallery; a series of aluminium mounted, black-and-white pictures of the Carrara marble quarries.

Aglaia Konrad, Carrara Cuts, 2013
Broken Line is a wonderful collection of colourful object cuts by Isidora Correa at Die Ecke Arte Contemporaneo (Santiago de Chile).

Isidora Correa, Broken Line, 2011
Neon lights and mirrors in Hopelessness, a work by Chilean artist Iván Navarro brought by Distrito 4. The Madrid based gallery has at this edition predominantly exhibited young artist's work, strongly betting for Rafael Macarrón (Madrid 1981), an award-winning artist who was allocated nearly half of the booth. His sculptures are hilarious. The three on show here were raised plywood boxes containing a detailed room filled with surreal beings of all sizes and colours.

Iván Navarro, Hopelessness, 2011
Rafa Macarrón, House Garden, 2013
Another artist to follow is certainly Ruth Gómez on show at the Mario Sequeira Gallery. Her work Spray is a graffiti progressively painted.

Ruth Gómez, Spray / Starting Over #1, 2013
Undoubtedly the most interesting introduction was to Mexican artist Teresa Margollés, winner of the 2012 Artes Mundis prize. Teresa's work is fascinating. It explores death and our relationship with it. Her work includes 32 años. Levantamiento y traslado donde cayó el cuerpo asesinado del artista Luis Miguel Suro, a piece that uses the bloody floor tiles on which the artist was murdered in Mexico. What Else Could We Talk About?, her contribution to the 2009 Venice Biennale, had the floor of the exhibition space continuously mopped with water used to wash bodies in a morgue in Mexico.

Teresa Margollés
Fiscal Canvas by Karmelo Bermejo is a great piece to close with. The artist suggests with this work a way forward in the art market. He challenges the buyer and the gallery not to declare the acquisition / sell of the piece. And he even goes further: the canvas, since it is left unpainted, can be used to support another artwork... which would consequently be undeclared as well. Realistic or less so, it is surely a proposal with a dose of future thinking. 

Karmelo Bermejo, Fiscal Canvas, 2013

ARCO International Contemporary Art Fair, Madrid 13 - 17 February 2013

Featured Artists
Alice Aycock
Karmelo Bermejo
Daniel Canogar 
Isidora Correa
Susy Gomez
Ruth Gomez
Aglaia Konrad
Raffaela Mariniello
Teresa Margollés
Guillermo Mora
Richard Mosse
Ivan Navarro
Jorge Perianes
Bosco Sodi
Guy Tillim
Baltazar Torres
Dario Urzay
Eulalia Valldosera

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