In the far east of London, stands majestic and solitary the London Aquatics Centre. In an almost inexistent context, it emerges from the flatness of the surroundings, like a solitary wave in the middle of the ocean. At first sight, its dynamic form amazes but then the question arises: would it be as beautiful within a context? Or is it this emptiness that enhances the building? “Space is meaningless without scale, containment, boundaries and direction”, writes Huxtable – so is the aquatic centre just a meaningless wonder?
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Yayoi Kusama. Pumpkin Magic
19 February 2018
words: Natalie Donat-Cattin
photos: Jian Yong Khoo
“I, Kusama, am the modern Alice in Wonderland” – Yayoi Kusama
The pumpkin often has a connection with the magical world. In Cinderella, it turns into a beautiful white carriage, darting towards the dance. In the same way, it could easily be one of the strange and wonderful inhabitants of the Lewis Carroll world – out of scale, context and with no apparent purpose. If the pumpkin could talk it would ask non-sensical questions while giving absurd non-answers.
Kusama uses this object to provoke us, to create a reaction, to remind us that the world should be looked at with children’s eyes – with a sense of curiosity and of overturning conventions. It indulges us to shape it in our dreams: change it in size, exaggerate it, enlarge it, shrink it. Her works offers us carte blanche: they are endless fairytales, objects abandoned in nature and space in order to stimulate our imagination.
The pumpkin comes from the earth and eventually detaches from it. In Naoshima it sits on a pier, between the beach and the sea. As every man, it yearns to the horizon, still tied to its roots. It stands out on the blue background thanks to its bright yellow colour, shining between the sky and the sea. It is a small point in the universe, reminding us of our humanity yet inviting us to dare, to go further.
“In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die: Ever drifting down the stream- Lingering in the golden gleam- Life, what is it but a dream?” – Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
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The Rolex Learning Centre sprawls itself across a vast expanse of the EPFL campus, its striking undulations reminiscent of the nearby alps. The interior is a visual delight where artificial hills and valleys replace traditional partitions – prompting different kinds of occupation and spatial interactions.
Progressing through the maze of columns, towards the centre of Bernini’s eclipse, we find ourselves in front of an imposing white wall, the Dover’s cliff of Rome: Saint Peter’s Basilica. Decorated to the last detail, it can only be compared to the English steep rock face for its whiteness and grandeur. In all other aspects, we can say that the craft of man has equaled if not surpassed the force of nature.
The Barbican Centre – A place of connection, a place of transition between two different worlds: the street and the courtyard. The former, a reflection of everyday life. The latter, an image of the pleasure of stopping, sitting, observing and thinking. Two universes governed by opposing laws: that of motion and that of stillness.
When the Milanese gallerist Massimo De Carlo gets taped on the wall and morphs into the artwork… are we human or are we art?