Having Fun With SANAA

I have already written about this year’s Serpentine pavilion by SANAA but here are few photos from my visit there.
I must say it’s incredibly difficult structure to photograph as there is so little of it! Bizarrely, it amazed me how little materiality you need to define space and give it very specific characteristics.
It was pure joy to see how people interact with it, especially children! Chasing their reflection in the hovering roof and looking at it from above surprised by the scale of the building or running around the forest of column. All set in Kensington Gardens and even more engaged with the surrounding thanks to the presence and character of the pavilion.
I am not afraid to say that looking at the history of this architectural event at Serpentine, the most successful pavilions were always the ones designed by Japanese architects. Probably because of their incredible sensitivity and love for temporality and nature.
If you’re in London any time by October you should go and experience this for yourself.


Julius Shulman (1910-2009)

The incredible Julius Shulman, responsible for amazing images of South California modernism is dead.

"He, in my opinion and the opinions of many, is the most important architectural photographer in history. He elevated what you might consider a commercial genre to a fine art". C. Krull

A guess that a lot of iconic buildings by such fames like Pierre Koenig, Charles Eames or Richard Neutra would never get the recognition if not for Shulman’s photography.
The Getty Center bought Shulman's archive of 260,000 photos in 1995 so I guess we can expect an amazing retrospective exhibition and many new publications with his work. Maybe it will also include the photographs he worked on in his 90’ with his collaborator Juergen Nogai?
I also recommend a documentary (that I hope we will be able to get on DVD soon) “Visual Acoustics”, directed by Eric Bricker. It looks like a very extensive image of this amazing architectural photographer but also naturalist, educator, and commentator on urban form.


The Three Little Pigs by Steven Guarnaccia

Once upon a time there were three little pigs who lived in a big house in the forest... but one day the wolf pays a visit to them...
The story of The Three Little Pigs by Steven Guarnaccia is here set among houses of scraps, of glass and of stone and mortar by famous XXth century architects: Frank Gehry, Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. Of course their buildings are filled with objects designed by some of the most representative architects and designers. Steven Guarnaccia re-designs this classical tale for children from an architect and designer’s point of view.
To me, it’s another book I need to get this month ;)

Serpentine Pavilion by SANAA

As we can all read now in many online publications, SANAA were commissioned to design this year’s Serpentine Pavilion, the every year’s temporary cafe and event space commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery in London.
Now it’s finally here and will be officially open on Sunday!
It’s the first built structure by the architects in England and who knows, maybe it will bring more of their projects into the country, liven up the English architectural environment...
Ryue Nishizawa described this ephemeral structure (as it’s hard and pointless to describe it as a building) as, ‘a non-architecture idea, such as a rainbow or water’.
Serpentine Gallery director Julia Peyton-Jones said that the pavilion ‘becomes the public’s town square’ but I would describe it more as a magical environment. Something like an enchanted forest with the typical (especially recently) Japanese concept of a building as permeable structure that becomes part of the surrounding landscape.
I’m sure that having a tea there will be an experience similar to "having a cuppa" with a Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland ;)
Can’t wait to see it myself!
Below is an interview with Sejima and Nishizawa by mentioned already Julia Peyton-Jones and co-director of the Serpentine Gallery Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Seeing Zumthor-Images by Hans Danuser: Reflections on Architecture and Photography

"More than twenty years ago, in a milestone event of twentieth-century architectural photography, Danuser photographed, at Zumthor’s invitation, two buildings: the protective structure built for archaeological excavations in Chur and St. Benedict’s Chapel in Sumvitg. When first shown in exhibition, those photos ignited a lively debate that has been revived with a recent exhibition of Danuser’s photographs of Zumthor’s most famous work, the spa at Therme Vals. Seeing Zumthor collects these three important series of Danuser’s pictures and includes essays by leading art historians [a discussion between Köbi Gantenbein and Hans Danuser and an essay by Philip Ursprung] exploring the relationship between the two seemingly different disciplines or architecture and photography."

For all the Zumthor lovers, people that love photography but not only, for everyone that simply looks for beauty (in the Heideggerian sense) this latest book - Seeing Zumthor--Images by Hans Danuser: Reflections on Architecture and Photography will be a dream come true!
Up till now there hasn’t been enough publications about Zumthor’s work but it looks like the Pritzker Prize is just about to change that.
Of course the genius architect invites only the best photographers to observe and capture the essence of his work, previously Helene Binet and now Hans Danuser.
Incredible, very atmospheric photographs illustrating some of the architect’s greatest buildings "comment equally on the art of photography and the art of architecture", all set in foggy and mystical Alpine landscape...
Thought I wouldn’t spend any money for books this month but I was so wrong...
(via archidose)


Take Care of Yourself by Sophie Calle

Take Care of Yourself is the latest project by Sophie Calle where she invites over hundred women to analyze a break-up letter that she had just received from a man. The artist asked participants to “analyze the letter from a professional perspective. The grammarian would have to speak about grammar”.
Further she explains “I wanted to play with the dryness of professional vocabulary. I didn’t want the women expressing sentiment for me.”
104 women, two puppets and one parrot participated in this project. All the interpretations, whether expressed or by comments superimposed onto the letter, or even movement or music, will be part of the exhibition opening in September at SESC Pompeia in Sao Paulo.
Beautiful photographs shown here are just a hint of what will be there. Among all the participants is Laurie Anderson (on the photograph below) which I'm discovering at the moment . I would love to see or hear her interpretation!

The whole idea is... I would say, very feminine.
I find it really moving how Calle tries to deal with her loss by stripping the message out of any emotional load by reducing it to a piece of text, simply a sequence of words.
You can see more on the artist's web site.


Sunny Warsaw

Few photographs from my weekend in Warsaw.