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

Solar Decathlon Europe / Part 2

October 12, 2012
Canopea House

The second edition of Solar Decathlon Europe has come to a close in Madrid with the Canopea House winning the competition. Designed by the Rhône-Alpes Team from the Ecole National Supérieure d'Architecture de Grenoble, France, the house has scored highest in Comfort, Architecture, Innovation and Operations.

The second place is for Patio 2.12 from Team Andalucía, a house with an interesting cooling system based on evaporation that has excelled in Energy Efficiency, Balance of Electricity and Communication. 
Patio 2.12 is a construction with four prefabricated volumes organized around an enclosed courtyard. Each volume hosts a different function: sleeping, cooking, living and technical. Volumes are internally lined with cork panels from recycled wine corks and externally with clay panels.

The courtyard roof is a triple-glazing with leafy-looking external louvers. The glazing can open to release hot air whereas the louvers are fixed and rotate to close or open position. When closed, their irregular shape and metal finish give a lovely shade to the courtyard. Shame that the overhead-glazing hasn't got sufficient pitch to avoid ponding and nasty stains have grown throughout the glazing.
Patio 2.12 Façade

Patio 2.12 Courtyard
Patio 2.12's cooling system is smart. It follows the principle of the traditional botijo, the unglazed clay jug used in Southern Spain to keep water. The botijo (pictured below) cools water by evaporation. Once filled and placed in the sun, its porous material allows water to filter through it and to evaporate once in contact with the outside dry air. Evaporation requires thermal energy which is extracted from the water inside the jug, cooling it down up to 10C. The cooling system of the house works the same way. It relies on ceramic hollow cladding panels. Water drops through the panel's cavity and when it evaporates, it cools the cavity. An air draft brings the cool air into the building.

The Canopea House by the Rhône-Alpes Team is one of the few projects that considers the urban context. The team, concerned by the lack of urban space, has designed a house that can be stacked into towers, thus helping to contain urban sprawl. The "Nanotowers" incorporate features such as farms to grow food and a communal space at the top of the building with a summer kitchen and a laundry room. A buffer zone around the building lowers the heat loss in the winter and protects from the sun in the summer.

Canopea Nanotowers

The Ekó House by Team Brazil is a lovely construction surrounded by bamboo sliding screens. The bamboos are differently spaced in East and West facades. The house has a dry composting toilet and treats it grey water with macrophyte plants.

Solar Decathlon Europe 2012 #sde12 / Madrid, 14 - 30 September 2012

Patio 2.12 House by the Universities of Sevilla, Jaén, Granada & Málaga / Spain
Area:    107.13 m2
Est. energy production:     16,378 kWh / year
Est. energy consumption:    2,982 kWh / y
Est. cost:  €500,000

Canopea House by the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Grenoble / France
Area:    195.9 m2
Est. energy production:     12,733 kWh / year
Est. energy consumption:    6,305 kWh / y
Est. cost:  €700,000

Ekó House by the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina + Universidade de São Paulo / Brazil
Area:    47.59 m2
Est. energy production:     21,157 kWh / year
Est. energy consumption:     6,836 kWh / y
Est. cost:  €450,000

Solar Decathlon Europe 2014 / France

Photos by PS

Noa Haim's Cardboard Megastructures : Beautiful DIY Architecture

October 09, 2012

9 October 2012

Riveting contribution of the Rotterdam based architect Noa Haim to the Madrid Architecture Week. Spaceship Heart, a structure made with folded cardboard polyhedrons, is one of the many possibilities in which you can combine the modules. Through her project Collective Paper Aesthetics, Haim explores spacial scenarios picking up on Buckminster Fuller's work. A smart project with a potentially high impact in public space.

The possibilities offered by the system are endless. The building blocks are combined in a truss i.e. it is a self-supporting structure and can easily adopt multiple shapes. It could in theory be as big as shown in the drawing below and if the cardboard were to be replaced with a stronger material, it could even support additional floors. Paper though gives a wonderful finish, it's easy to source and can be printed to the user's taste.

The project is conceived as a participatory initiative where people help building the structure. It has also been used as a game for kids. At the CentroCentro Space in Madrid, where Spaceship Heart was exhibited, the visitors were shaping the installation with the many blocks that laid around.

Spaceship Heart is an open source design. Haim has shared how to build the polyhedrons and how to combine them into a structure at the I Love Architecture initiative by Architecture for Humanity and at her web page. This is a wonderful act especially towards design-deprived areas ...lucky enough to have internet and a printer.

Spaceship Heart Building Instructions  & Building Block
NB do not forget to send a picture of the work to the architect!

Collective Paper Aesthetics
Buckminster Fuller

Pictures by PS

Solar Decathlon Europe / Part 1

September 20, 2012

The renewable energy sector officially lives in a time warp. The second edition of the European Solar Decathlon, on show in Madrid, features 19 energy efficient houses that generate their own power. Disappointing though that they do so with superseded technologies. The competition, however, is a great initiative for raising awareness on the need to consume less natural resources and reduce waste generation, and the houses, designed by universities from around the globe, are a good example of efficient design.

What would I have expected? I guess to find examples of truly efficient electricity generation. Solar power is fine but we know it has a very low efficiency rate -10%- and there is a lack of facilities to store it, that's why it has to go hand in hand with the traditional power grid. Not really a breakthrough. I would have loved to see electricity being generated from electromagnetic radiation or via nano materials for instance. A type of energy that is easier to generate and can exist without the grid. There are plenty of institutes and independent researchers exploring the matter and achieving excellent results. Regarding new building materials, what about "atomic" ones such as graphene-based structures, metabolic materials or printed ones? Aren't these more XXI century than timber, paper or glass?

Back to the Villa Solar in Madrid where the Solar Decathlon competition is taking place, the 19 houses are being monitored and will get a score on 10 aspects, ranging from energy efficiency to innovation and functionality. 

The Counter Entropy House from the RWTH Aachen is a project that stands out despite its conservative looks. It has an open floor plan enclosed by cores and a retractable glazing. The oversailing roof carries a curtain to the South and West edges. At the time of my visit the glazing was open and the curtain semi-closed and this created a lovely breeze and shade inside the house. The house is partly made with reused materials: the cladding panels are de-coated and melted CDs, the lamps are bicycle wheels wrapped with tracing paper and the furniture is made with cutouts from timber boards held together with a film. The house control panel, developed by one of the students, gets projected on a table surface. A sensor opposite the user recognizes the commands in the arm movements going towards the projected buttons. The system works with the user's arm movements not with the projection on the table, which has no other function than to help the user memorize the movements.

Counter Entropy House
Counter Entropy House: facade panel made with melted CDs
Counter Entropy House: lamp projecting house control panel on the table below
Counter Entropy House: house control panel projected on table surface and monitored by hand movements
The Para Eco-House by the Chinese Tongji University is a small compact volume protected by an outer lattice skin. The house is mainly made with bamboo, uses vacuum insulated panels (VIP) for the walls and has a mist spray system in the terrace. Possibly its most interesting feature is the Western outer wall: a web of differently-sized openings filled with plants and solar cells.

Para Eco-House West wall
Para Eco-House inner West wall
Para Eco-House outer West Wall PV panel

ECO House by the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya in Spain is a simple construction with great features. It is a lightweight structure clad with corrugated plastic. The rooms are independent timber cubes with exposed plugged-in services. The house uses different types of water: regular tap water, rain and on-site treated grey water. The user decides, depending on function, which one to use. The air cooling is equally interesting. Cold air is pumped from an outdoor, insulated box full with gravel. The box lid opens at night until the gravel cools down, then closes to preserve the low temperature. Sadly, the ventilation system seemed undersized since despite high ceilings and roof opening vents, the temperature in the house was uncomfortably high. Possibly the corrugated plastic skin wasn't helping. 

 Eco House water treatment plant
Eco House interior
Eco House water connection types to the bathroom
Eco House: cooling system with gravel

I got excited to see a rice paddy in front of the Omotenasi House by the Japanese Chiba University and assumed that it was irrigated with grey water but it wasn't. Still, a great idea to grow your own food at home. In this regard, the house has also cultivation screens and a plant factory that uses fiber optics for rapid plant growth. The traditional-looking roof is made with photovoltaic tiles and produces 1.7 times more electricity than a regular PV system. The dark panels in front of the house are for water heating.

The Odoo House by the Budapest University of Technology and Economics has the most striking outdoor space. Allegedly based on Hungarian traditions, the East-West oriented open space is enclosed to the South by a "summer wall"  that includes an outdoor kitchen and a furniture storage that turns into a lounging area. The wall is clad with PV panels to its South face.
Odoo House: Summer Wall South face PV panels
Odoo House: Summer Wall inner face with outdoor kitchen

Other projects include the Canopea House from the Ecole National Supérieure d'Architecture de Grenoble, France.

CEM' House (Casas em Movimento) by the Universidade do Porto, Portugal.

Fold House, Technical University of Denmark.

Ekihouse by the Universidad del País Vasco, Spain.

Check the following post Solar Decathlon Europe / Part 2 to learn about the winners.

Solar Decathlon Europe 2012 #sde12 / Madrid, 14 - 30 September 2012

Counter Entropy House by the RWTH Aachen / Germany
Area:    49.1 m2
Est. energy production:     8,886.6 kWh / year
Est. energy consumption:  6,365 kWh / y
Est. cost:  €542,000

Para Eco-House by the Tongji University / China
Area:    128 m2
Est. energy production:   15,857 kWh / year
Est. energy consumption:  4,273 kWh / y
Est. cost:  €287,000

(E)CO House by Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya / Spain
Area:    150 m2
Est. energy production:     5,900 kWh / year
Est. energy consumption:  4,222 kWh / y
Est. cost:  €150,000

Omotenashi House by the Chiba University / Japan
Area:    54.38 m2
Est. energy production:   13,374 kWh / year
Est. energy consumption:  8,302 kWh / y
Est. cost:  €500,000

Photos by PS

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