Historical Voice: pervasive hindsight
A curated selection of 100 word reviews from Eutopia for Temporary Art Review.
Yet another event marking the hundred-year anniversary to WWI: A monumental site-specific installation in Prague attempts to bring together the two World Wars: Front Line aligns WWI sandbagged-trenches with ball-shaped concrete, one-man, WWII bunkers. Though described by the curators as an abandoned battlefield where the two wars artificially meet, the space bares no resemblance to the chaos it claims to be; in fact, the only juxtaposition is in the two intersecting aesthetic flavors and idealistic notions: the coarse, fragmented relics of an inevitable war, resting neatly within the double-height, white-cubed, brightly illuminated gallery space of the DOX, in the midst of Prague’s post-communist residential plateau.
~ Gili Merin
images courtesy of the author
Haegue Yang’s large-scale, kinetic, sculptural installation resembles a meditative moving Carlotta Capron photograph. Red Venetian blinds suspended from the ceiling project shifting formalist shadows, as roving spotlights illuminate their form. Referencing secret meetings between Korea and China that took place in the mountains of Northern China in the 1930’s, the conceptual undertones contrast this peaceful, abstract, visual specter. The blinds and spotlights acquire sinister connotations, alluding to surveillance, and covert military intelligence. Following the light, the viewer is led through the mysterious labyrinth, never fully able to capture the fleeting apparition or remain furtively hidden in the shadows.
~ Colette Copeland
images courtesy of Colette Copeland
Entering to find a myriad of exposed duct-work over a drop-down ceiling in a classic cupola makes for great spectacle, a metaphor of the old contrasted with shiny space-age portals issuing forth nothing and leading nowhere. Roaming through the massive rooms overladen with a vocabulary of stairs, building skins, toilets, balconies or flooring the Pavilion functions as educational trade fair exhibit attempting to re-assert the historicity of constituent elements. Offering little concept the pavilion overwhelms with quantity and gadget engagement, implying architecture has forgotten the basics in favor of theory and must be patronizingly re-grounded by an entrenched authority figure.
Midway between the German Reichstag and Kunsthaus Tacheles, stands a Nazi air-raid bunker: fiercely monumental, strictly symmetrical, and a sharply stripped-classicist-style structure of reinforced concrete. Today, after 750 cubic meters of concrete was violently diamond-drilled from 7-feet thick walls and 10-feet thick ceilings, it houses the contemporary art collection of a wealthy advertiser-turned-art-collector, who lives in a luxurious penthouse upstairs with his family. Works by Olafur Eliasson, Wolfgang Tillmans and Ai Wei Wei are all casually swallowed by the massive, exposed walls, which have seen too much. It seems a histor-ectomy is needed, perhaps an anarchic-mad-fetish-techno-rave cleansing is appropriate.