Adrian Ma, Arslan Arkallayev, Federica Sofia Zambeletti, George Fergusson, Linus Cheng, Lloyd Lee, Ludovica Cirillo, Martina Contento, Olympia Simopoulou, Sebastian Serzysko, Tyler Camille Bollier
We invited our students to participate in a pedagogic experiment which entailed developing in parallel two projects: a research (i.e. an interdisciplinary investigation presented though architectural representational means and academic writings which culminates with the formulation of a critical thesis), and a “live” design project for a temporary pavilion.
Stimulated by a dense programme of specialized seminars and by innumerable guided visits to museums, galleries, art fairs and archives, the research project challenged the students to reflect on the paradoxes of contemporary museums and their current ideological, cultural, social, structural and technological transformations. Responding to predetermined topics of investigation, each student constructed a thesis by unveiling unknown narratives, often belonging to the realm of art history, through the unique perspective of an architect.
The “Flipside of Globalization” research agenda induced students to conduct regional investigations on 20th century China, Russia, Argentina, Japan and Lebanon; in doing so, Arslan Arkallayev and Adrian Ma analyzed the spaces of the Soviet and Chinese avant-garde movements (developed respectively in the early 1920s and after 1976) as a counter model to the current dominant iconic museum architecture; Martina Contento documented the interstitial spaces for art during WWII, from Europe to Argentina, reconstructing forgotten/censored histories; Ludovica Cirillo described the process whereby the Western museum culture imported to Japan was gradually synthesized, acquiring distinct spatial qualities and local connotations, by introducing the traditional concept of Ma (void); whilst Tyler looked at Beirut establishing a paradoxical dialogue between violent destruction and cultural creation within the city.
Reflecting on the “White Cube for Modern Art”, Federica Zambeletti and Sebastian Serzysko looked at the emergence of the typology of modern art museum from two complementary positions. While Federica traced the history of the evolution of the museum architecture through the different political, social and cultural shades of white, Sebastian focused on two characters - Willem Sandberg and Alfred Barr - whose directorship at Stedelijk Museum and MoMA formed two innovative institutions stemming from radically diverse premises: an existing state encyclopedic museum and a new private institution.
Interpreting curatorial strategies of conceptual and performance art as major shifts into the museum space, George Fergusson informed the topic “Revolution from Within” with specific case studies, whereby artists and curators have challenged the default condition of museum.
Linus Cheng unfolded the complexity of the “Universal Museum” by tracing the development of museum storages and speculating on a digital network of information flow; while Lloyd Lee challenged the notion of universality by proposing alternative curatorial strategies.
Finally, Olympia Simopoulou critically explored the phenomenon of globalization of the contemporary art market, setting the context for all the previous themes and focusing on the emergence of new hybrid typologies of spaces for art.