Palazzo del Lavoro – The building stood before us imposing and abandoned. A broken glass and multiple graffiti were evidence that many before us had violated its solitude. Right through a smashed window we penetrated into the concrete soul of the building. Here, an infinite space opened in front of us: a basilica of our time, a cathedral of architecture with no god or religion, a modern days’ ruin.
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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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Architecture is art, and in art lies its completeness. In Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, designed by Stanton Williams Architects, the two disciplines work one in function to the other. The building is like a Rubik’s cube in which all faces have the same colour: the solutions are endless and they all work.
Water temple, designed by Tadao Ando, hides in the inland of Awaji Island. Despite its close proximity to the sea (only a 15 min walk) the building turns its back to the ocean to embrace the hillside. The road to reach it, is deserted and steep: a series of greenhouses and fields are the only panorama’s highlights.
The Ara Pacis was and is an altar to the greatness of Rome, an altar of ideals and hopes. Forgotten but rediscovered. Rebuilt but eradicated. Idolised but caged. Now it sits imprisoned behind white bars, while the citizens invoke freedom for it. Criticism resonates from every part of the capital, loud and clear not unlike most Italians.
Architecture is the embodiment of the arts and sciences, a complex combination which results in an ambiguous whole. What once was just a means of shelter, has evolved into a means of which to communicate and express the ever evolving necessities of contemporary society. The demands of the people coupled with the zeitgeist of the period, more often than not, precipitate a prevailing architectural style, one with which the architects of the period rally to. Two centuries apart, Étienne-Louis Boullée and Louis Kahn, through their tireless re-examination of the discipline, have established profound ideologies on the nature of architecture, which remarkably allude to common principles.