Thursday, 3 December 2015

Suspended in space

I've been reading about Lina Bo Bardi this week, an Italian-born, Brazilian Modernist architect. Her focus was on glass, using it as a building material that could blend into the rainforests and greenery that often surrounded her constructions. The architecture becomes open, fluid, transparent and permeable. Outside, inside. She took this up again with her 'glass easels', which applied these principles to the gallery space. Glass panes held upright by concrete blocks enable a non-linear mode of viewing, and again that central openness – this time breaking down the walls between artworks. I find its effect remarkable – largely due to its perfect simplicity.

I'm writing up an interview with Isaac Julien at the moment, from when I met him in Venice back in May. He presented a multi-screen film in memory of Bo Bardi, and so introduced me to her work. I remember after the interview we ended up on a water taxi together, speeding towards the Giardini for the opening of the Biennale. Isaac was starting the week-long reading of Marx's 'Das Kapital' (some posturing there on Enwezor's part). I was quite thrilled. It was only when we arrived that I realised I had forgotten my pass, and so was forced to trail back to my hotel (mosquito-infected den) alone. So sad.

Isaac Julien said to me on Bo Bardi's easels specifically: "In terms of materiality, the easels can be considered as a metaphor to Lina’s approach. They’re made of glass and concrete, and these two elements were present in the majority of her projects. This heavy concrete base that holds the thin transparent glass in place plays with our senses through an ever-present dichotomy between heavy and light, opaque and transparent, and the graphic and the sculptural. It is within this structure that artworks flow seemingly free from any material weight apart from their grounding concrete structure. It creates this amazingly fluid space, which invites you to look at the artworks differently." 

Awake again

After a long hiatus, I've decided to start updating this blog again. It will be open-ended, and I hope a notebook of ideas and images. I started posting on here aged 17, when Twitter and Instagram hadn't yet taken off. Their growth (in the personal and corporate arenas) has been interesting to chart, with everyone from 12-year-olds to institutions like the Tate suddenly projecting themselves to the world. While the brevity of Twitter and the image focus of Instagram suggests the potential for a greater immediacy, I've found the reality to be something quite different.

Suzanne Moore wrote earlier today (in the context of this year's revamped Pirelli Calendar): "The demand for “realness” exists at precisely the same time as owning the means of production of imagery means just owning a phone. To look at Instagram is not to see how others live, but their own fantasies of life. Such lives consist of constant filters and retouching."

These projections can be fascinating in themselves, but I've found myself drawn back to the intimacy of the journal. Here formats are more sprawling, less defined. The active decision of readers to visit a blog also appeals, away from the endless scroll of social media. And the diary's introspective record of failures and impulses.