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." 

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