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Commentaries, an ongoing project whith Art historians, Architects, Artists, Philosophers and Art Theoricians who were asked to write about architecture today in relation whith the office's work. These commentaries are originally printed in a collection of individual booklets. You can find some of them on a text format on this site.
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A Mistake, a Hole, to Congregate In.
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When I first visited the studio of Nina Safainia I was looking at a model of a house she was proposing in Germany and I didn’t know what to think. Later I realised that most of the model was, in fact, the surrounding landscape and the house was just a small structure perched into it. I made a mistake.
Gradually, I began to see my mistakes were welcomed in subsequent and preceding works. Somehow what you consume, or what is being consumed, is like a practice without practice. Not so much spontaneous but done-there-and-then, on the spot. Some non-heroic locus where what didn’t work or wasn’t recognised could be done again. There is an uncertainty and flexibility in the projects that remains throughout both the planning and the realisation.
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There is an apartment where the hinged door opens and closes to hide the bathroom, then the toilet, then the kitchen and the bed is in the wall. There’s a hole in the middle of the apartment. This hole seems to make both the staircase, that it is for, and the apartment itself look bigger than what they are.
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There is a foam model, made ten years ago, that anticipates something that is between an object and a table, that can be re-assembled and turned to different uses. If people saw it in diverse ways it could be produced and manufactured differently, in lacquer, in plain wood or matte.
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When nina safainia architects designed and built a crèche the architect told the client, at the first meeting, that she had never realised a crèche before. The client replied that she knew nothing about it either (yet), it was an undertaking she was making as a business woman. “We learned about it together, over time”. “In a different way”.
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There are more holes, holes that spin and spiral. Gordon Matta Clark is re-enacted like a ruin that re-emerges. Holes at the Palais de Tokyo, in the apartment, in construction, in the stonewall of a gallery through which people communicate in an action that she made (as an artist) in an exhibition in Marfa, Texas. There are holes in concentration, and in the arguments of others. The most important hole is the one like in a Roadrunner cartoon where the animal paints or draws a hole on the wall and then proceeds to climb through it. These are serious careless, anticipated holes that we can use. We, as ACW, wrote a song about it.
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Then there’s the house with the roof garden. Built as a compromise with the client, what-the-client-wants: a skeleton of metal cables in the shape of a roof, a false roof, with the garden moving and growing through it. It functions like a commons of mistakes. House and garden. These works and structures eschew pointless and misleading materialisations and identifications. They are comments and commentaries at first rejected and refused then effortlessly redeemed.
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This architect’s Tokyo Art Bar from 2010, is a non-prescriptive space that allows the patron the possibility to inscribe something into its use-value. It mixes high style with the old pot-holed walls of it’s previous incarnation, somewhat self-consciously drawing you attention to the fact that you are not in a new space but a re-considered, or re-interpreted, space that is ready to be changed again by the user. The open-space style provides seating, out-door smoking balcony, sofa area, and standing room at the bar. You can choose how you wish to inhabit the space as two people, a group of friends or people in a crowd. More importantly the room is available for transformation by the patron for functions, parties and presentations, with the invitation to re-make the space by moving or adding furniture, hanging works on the walls and re-directing the flow and use of the room.
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Tokyo Art Bar is, no doubt, preceded many art bars, for me Sal Bar is one worth mentioning. Designed by Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa, it opened in the ???? area of Seoul in 1996. The bar, running down one side of the room, was hyper modern, with clean lines and stainless steel, while the other side was shabby-chic, Vietnamese side-of-the-road hut style, tables with printed plastic table cloths and unfinished walls, brought together by a chandelier hanging in the middle of the room. Next to the bar was the ‘museum’, an exhibition space painted egg yoke yellow, where shows ran back to back. And in true post-modern style the DJ’s play list traversed heavy metal, pop, rock, Korean pop, jazz and classical music. Sal Bar closed in 2008 when Choi Jeong Hwa opened his next project.
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The American version, we could say, was Passerby, the bar next to Gavin Brown’s gallery in the meat packing district of Manhattan. It opened in 1999 and closed when Gavin Brown Enterprise moved to the West Village. There was a flashing disco dance floor designed by artist Piotr Uklanski, a long bar you could sit at, and opposite a shanty-style wall with tables covered with plastic tablecloths. Apparently in the early days the bar supported the gallery. It was pleasantly pretentious and a great place to meet people.
The tacky sophistication of Sal Bar and Passerby and the patrons themselves provided the content and the context of both of those places, they didn’t change but remained the signs of the end of post-modernism, a prescribed space where we were all caught up for a period of time. Tokyo Art Bar makes little reference to any of this, although it’s there in a kind-of imagined unconscious for me. The openness and possibility of translation is the prompt for the user to take up.
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This work talks to others and offers a space that no one knows what it will become. So much architecture of the twentieth century has failed, often at the expense and to the dismay of all concerned. This work has a kind if pre-failure, starts out shabby, insists on very little, yet could end up luminous as it finds its use.
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A Constructed World
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February, Capri 2012.
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THE HOLE
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They gonna tie yo' hands
They gonna tie yo' feet
They gonna gag your throat
Where you can't holler at all
An cryin' won't help you none
Set you in the water
Even though you paid for it
Yeah, the bubbles comin' up.
Whoa
Rrrrrrr
Rrrrrrr

You read between the lines
We're gonna have a deal
They gon' take you right down
By the riverside
Now four is goin' down
Ain't but three comin' back
Who used to be
They said they saw a
They gonna tape you up
And burn it
Rrrrrr
Rrrrrr

It’s the hole
Could be an eating machine
Could be a talking machine
Could be an breathing machine
Hue her herrr herr
Could be the hole
The spinning hole
Its moving
hoh ho ho ho ho ho ho

Could be the origin
the origin of the world
Could be an anal machine
right where we’ve all seen it
Could be , all pussy there
Could be the screen
Hear it scream
Like Santa Claus
ho ho ho ho ho
way down in the hole
we’re gonna go through the hole
Im speaking thru a hole
In the little hole of my telephone
In the little holes of my landline
yeah the ho ho ho ho ho ho

way down in the hole
like a tunnel
the food goes in and out of the hole
The hole
Im in my own hole
Im in your hole
Im in you ho ho ho ho hole
ho ho ho ho ho ho
ho ho ho ho ho ho
ho ho ho ho ho ho

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