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The New Director of Tate Britain Set to Broaden the Museum's Audience
by Kimberly B. Johnson

As the chief founding director of Nottingham Contemporary—one of the U.K’s largest art centers—Alex Farquharson knows all about tackling artistic ventures on a large scale. A long time curator with more than 20 years' experience, Farquharson has worked with some of the foremost leading contemporary British artists, such as Pablo Bronstein, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Jeremy Deller, Gary Hume, Richard Long and Gillian Wearing. When Farquharson launched Nottingham Contemporary in the fall of 2009, little did he know the gallery would go on to attract more than one million visitors in its first five years—defining and solidifying him as a strong presence in the British art industry.

Farquharson studied English and Fine Art at the University of Exeter, and soon after, received his Masters in Arts Criticism at City University in London. He is set to replace former Tate Britain director, Penelope Curtis, who announced in the spring that she was stepping down in order to take the director’s position at Lisbon's Museu Calouste Gulbenkian.

Upon gaining his new position, Farquharson told the London Evening Standard that, “as the home of 500 years of British art, Tate Britain has a unique and fascinating position in the cultural life of the nation. I look forward to working with a highly skilled and experienced team of curators to share these histories with audiences of all kinds.”


Kimberly B. Johnson


(Image at the top: David Baird)

Posted by Kimberly B. Johnson on 7/30 | tags: Tate Britain Alex Farquharson Nottingham Contemporary

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Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)
The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH, United Kingdom
July 29, 2015 - September 27, 2015

Exploring Bau: A Giant Sketchbook for Ideas
by Bea De Sousa

“We both agree, sometimes archives can be fun!”

Just before everyone disappears to their holiday hideouts, I meet with ICA London curator Juliette Desorgues to explore her new exhibition about the Austrian architecture magazine Bau. We browse through the show together and compare personal favorites.

Bau: Magazine for Architecture and Urban Planning, Issue 2, 1965


Bau: Magazine for Architecture and Urban Planning (1947-71), similar to the RIBA Journal, existed as a trade magazine for the Central Union of Austrian Architects. The exhibition at the ICA focuses on the period 1965-71, when a group of experimental young architects and artists took over editing the magazine and turned it into a giant sketchbook for their ideas. They were playful with the term "architecture," the magazine format, and pretty much everything else.

Hans Hollein, ‘Technik’ (technology), Bau, Issue 2, 1965 pp 52-53. On loan from the Architectural Association Library


Bea de Sousa: I confess that I am completely psyched about industrial refineries. I don't know why, but I am eternally grateful to Bernd and Hilla Becher who did a whole series on those in the eighties. In 1965, Bau dedicated a whole page to similar images. Were they architect-designed structures?

Juliette Desorgues: They are so called “non-architectural spaces.” Hans Hollein and Walter Pichler wanted to start a whole new dialogue about what architecture could be, hence their slogan “Everything is architecture.” They created page designs, where they juxtaposed models of functional architecture with anything that could be construed as a 3D structure. Architecture became a kind of blank canvas, which could be redefined from scratch. The most extreme example is perhaps the page entirely dedicated to an image of one pill for the treatment of claustrophobia. The pill case with its dissoluble membrane and the half white, half transparent domes containing the powder of a mind altering drug was revered as an architectural shape.

Bau, Issue 4, 1968 (Front cover, image by Rotofoto, Bau archive)


BdS: The group also showed other influences from the psychedelic culture of the late sixties: flower power, free love, and sci-fi ideas. We can see that on the magazine covers...

JD: The covers speak of themselves but the films show how the prototype structures could be used. They make the correlation between utopian experiments and popular culture very clear. Films made by collectives of architects and performance artists such as Coop Himmelb(l)au and Salz der Erde really show the spirit of fun connected with experimentation.

‘The Greater Number 14 Triennale di Milano 1968’ Bau, Issue 4, 1968, pp 72-73. On loan from the Architectural Association Library


BdS: Yes Coop Himmelb(l)au’s film Restless Sphere has to be my absolute favorite with two naked Adam and Eve performers walking around in a transparent plastic sphere with the opulent baroque structure of Schloss Schönbrunn as the backdrop and, better yet, a traditional Austrian brass band in the background. If I could I would teleport myself there.

JD: Talking about teleportation—have you seen my absolute favorite page from Bau Magazine 1969 with the hand drawn studies for what would be VR helmets today? I am guessing that they were inspired by the moon-landing in July 1969.

BdS: It feels really current. Some of the blow-up spheres that appear as prototypes in the magazines, such as the "Mindexpander" from 1967, are so forward thinking they are only just becoming viable options in architecture right now. 

Bau: Magazine for Architecture and Town Planning, Issue 4-5, 1967


JD: In a way yes, but the Bau editors did not just look at futuristic concepts. You can also see that they juxtaposed historical buildings with new concepts, as a beginning of the postmodernism that Hollein later became so famous for.

BdS: Hollein went on to design the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt, which looks a bit like a large slice of cake. I have really enjoyed experiencing shows in there. Talking of enjoying architectural space, which concept from Bau 1965-70 would be your dream house?

JD: It would have to be the Yellow Heart, which you can see in the film made by the group Salz der Erde (Salt of the Earth). It’s one of the first Eco-structures, designed to be a free-standing bouncy bubble pod in nature through which you can appreciate the sky and the trees. Yes, I think that would be my ultimate dream pad.


Bea de Sousa



(Image at the top: Bau: Magazine for Architecture and Town Planning, Issue 1, 1969. All: Published by Zentralvereinigung der Architekten Österreichs. Courtesy the artists and their estates)

Posted by Bea De Sousa on 8/10 | tags: photography drawing bau magazine architecture sketchbook Illustration design urban planning Hans Hollein Walter Pichler

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Anonymous Art: Secret Sale Trend Plays on the Psychology of the Purchasing
by Char Jansen

The Secret Art Sale Exhibition has been popping up all over the place lately: we reported from Art Dubai on the RCA's Secret Dubai and the democratizing power of the anonymous auction.

Now London's Fold Gallery in partnership with social art enterprise Artbox are hosting a summer inspired secret postcard sale. Starting August 20 and running for a week, Artbox London has taken the RCA format—exhibiting the work of 30 artists with learning disabilities alongside internationally acclaimed names. The funds raised will go back into organizing future workshops at the gallery for people with learning disabilities. Artbox is a social art enterprise that supports the art of adults with learning disabilities through raising awareness and encouraging interaction.

So why are we so enthralled by events such as these? It seems to hang on the feeling that we can get a bargain on work by a well-know artist. Ostensibly, it reveals how much importance we give to the "author" of the art object—the Foucault "author-function." It's not just the name of the artist but the imprint of everything that name represents.

By taking the economy into their own hands, the gallery organizing a "secret sale" demonstrates the onset of a post-capitalist purchasing model, a "shared economy," where the producers work with businesses to control the process of buying art, and where we consume things simply because we enjoy them. 

However, since the artists' names will only be disclosed after purchase of the postcards, it's also clear that art buyers are very unlikely to purchase work by artists who are not known, suggesting the integration is still superficial. The secret sale is a way for the gallery to forcibly democratize the art economy—but it is uncertain as to whether it can make an enduring difference.  


Char Jansen


(All images courtesy of Fold Gallery & Artbox)

Posted by Char Jansen on 8/18 | tags: drawing painting postcards secret art sale anonymous artists ARTBOX fold gallery

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