upcoming installation

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performance & game

Pippin Bar created the game version of the Marina Abramov MOMA performance "The Artist is Present." To make the game experience of the performance experience is a brilliant idea, that even Abramov enjoyed playing it as well. I am still trying to experience the game but always I select to play it when the museum is closed. Today I missed it for 53 minutes! Next time!


from performance to architecture: Marina Abramovic part 3

Marina Abramović started her presentation (or performance?) by explaining the reasons behind her need to create legacy. For Abramović there is not big difference to create few more shows (especially after exhibiting at MOMA) but it is more important to think of other formats in which she can transfer her 40 years of experience. Abramović also explained the need to have her name on the Insitute, both as a brand to raise money, but also to secure the type of performance that will take place there. 
Abramović addressed the role of the artist in society and specifically how this has transformed the last years, from a "disturbed bohemian guy with dirty clothes" (in different venue she has described herself as an artist wearing black, dirty clothes) towards a person that has many responsibilities and clear functions within society. For Abramović, art should not occur in the nature (which she finds perfect) but in the "disturbed societies."

For Abramović, performance art's role and the Institute's role is "to unconditionally give to your own public and society." More specifically the Institute needs to really address the immaterial forms of art, starting with music, then performance, then opera, then theater, then video, then film, and following with new forms not yet predicted. In performance, time is important. When you enter the Institute, you need to sign a contract, to give your word of honor that you are staying 6 hours. You cannot leave. As Abramović says: "You give me your word of honor, I give you an experience. It is a fair exchange."

Once you enter the Institute you abandon your belongings (eg. laptop, cellphone etc) and you wear a uniform. The Institute is like a lab in a way. When you start your training, you enter different chambers to experience different situations, like the crystal chambers, according to Abramović crystals have memory, chamber with magnetic beds, and so on). There is a slight complication with the bathrooms for which they design three types: for women, for men, and for artists.

To further highlight her point about the need for time and long duration in performance, Abramović brings historical examples in which she mentions the duration and the preparation (and transformation) of the artist. She starts from Richard Wagner, Stockhausen, John Casem to Pina Bausch, Douglas Gordon, Robert Wilson, David Lavine, Terence Koh, herself, Tehching  Hsieh.
Tehching (Sam) Hsieh, is an artist, whom Abramović characterized as master. In One Year Performance, Hsieh transformed his studio into a cage which he would not allowed (himself) to leave. A friend would bring him food every day. From their discussions she recalls  that after one year the whole space has completely change. For example, when you sit on the bed on the far left corner, this is the sleeping room, when you sit in the middle this is the sitting area, when you sit in the far rigth edge this is the garden. In various occasions in her talks (not only in this lecture) Abramović suggest something similar (but obvisouly less extreme), the experiment with opening and closing the door. She explains, to open the door and leave, or to open the door and close it, or to open it half way, it is a very different experience. This is when the door becomes space. One could say that her New York piece, House with the Ocean Views, where she stayed in the stage for 12 days without food, exposed to the public, follows similar concepts and it is influenced by such practices like Hsieh's. She showed many examples of his work. Abramović once asked Hsieh: "What are you doing now?" and Hsieh replied: "I am doing life." Then she explained to the audience, in art you keep doing more projects in order to achieve things you had not been able to complete in the previous projects. However she differentiated Hsieh from this by acknowledging the stage of completion in which he has arrived in his work. So Hsieh, according to Abramović does not need to perform anymore, he just does life

Performance art for Abramović is a time-based art, a living type of art, and an immaterial form of art. During the Abramović experiment, people commit to time; they learn many things about their body like for example not to cross their legs because this blocks circulation. The Abramović method includes the learning of three objects/ positions: standing, sitting, and lying. 

To further study immaterial art Abramović went to Brazil to research two kind of things: places of power and people of power. Abramović believes in the transmission of energy that naturally happens in places like the waterfalls, volcanos, and other natural fields, and she compared this with some people's power to extract this energy from the environment, through spirituality, and give it back to people in order to heal them. Much of this research will part of her upcoming "The current" movie. In one of her videos (not in this lecture), Abramović explained how she synchronizes her performances with the moon cycles in order to utilize its ability to move ocean and therefore body waters.

Questions from the audience ocurred around religion, market , toilets, subjectivity and other diverse topics. At the end of the day, one still desires from architecture to acquire this transformative ability  performance has. Borrowing Abramović's words:   [Performance] it is not about you, it is about the others. 
Note: Click Part 1 & Part 2

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from performance to architecture: Marina Abramovic part 2

After MAI (Marina Abramović Institute (click PART 1), Shohei Shigematsu presented the second project with Abramović, situated in the town of Centinje, Montenegro. Shigematsu mentioned the importance of creating an archive of communism, not just as a collection of monuments, but with the intention to preserve the feeling.

For this complex project (which is half represented by industry), they introduced also, together with Rem Koolhaas, and Hans-Ulrich Obrist, the idea of an Art Parking, a place where they can collect all the large installations that take place in the world, and they have no place to park themselves, as they need to be dismantled.

The most perhaps interesting part of this complex is the production of a social club space in the middle of the complex. This type of space can be found both in the communist era (e.g. the canteen, where one could find also a ping pong), but also in the technological industries (e.g. Google company, where one can find again pool tables and ping pong tables). This socialistic space will be also the visitor center of the complex.

To mark Marina Abramović legacy, the architects design a tower that is a direct translation of Marina's sketch of body enclosed in a tower, a drawing that represents her method. the tower becomes the entrance and the monument of the complex. 
(to continue reading click PART 3

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from performance to architecture: Marina Abramovic part 1

In the beginning of March, at Harvard GSD, Sanford Kwinter hosted performer Marina Abramovic & architect Shohei Shigematsu (OMA NY) to present the Marina Abramović Institute. Kwinter acknowledged Abramović, as the spiritual founder of performance art practice. By borrowing some Nietzschean concerns and Spinoza's question, "What can a body do", he introduced to the audience the idea of thinking The Institute (i.e. building) as a body in extreme spatial temporal extension, as a kind of organism, that has the capacity to shape our experience, perception, and imagination. By exchanging the word body with that of building in Spinoza's question, Kwinter answered it at the end of his introduction: [the building]... "to alter the body and mind."
Shohei Shigematsu, described the Marina Abramović type of performance through the concept of "loose engagement." You can always stay connected to it, even if you are not the immediate audience. He compared this engagement looseness as similar to that one can find in baseball: he particularly mentioned how important it is even when you buy your hot dog to still be engaged with the act. He expanded this notion, also found in the semi-enclosed ciricle in the photo above, to that of an onion relationship, where the mulitple rings/ layers represent audiences with different degrees of engagement.
The building that Marina Abramović bought had been initially a community theater, but recently it has been transformed to an interior tennis court. OMA's proposal for the existing building, being based on this idea of "loose engagement," would require the creation of a very simple pure box in the middle of the building for different types of performances, around which they would position supplementary programs. The focus of the intervention has been the "audience 2m" second layer in the onion diagram, that would circulate in this additional programs (this is based on the assumption that the "audience 1," first layer in the onion diagram, would be fully engaged by default.

Between "audience 1" and "audience 2," or between program: performance and additional programs respectively, OMA designed a wall, that acts as viewing window, it is like the section (wall) in a doll house. This kind of "loose engagement" has been present in many of OMA buildings (e.g. MTCC at IIT campus) so it is interesting to see how the architects use Abramović's as an alibi for their "agenda" or visionary architecture.

"The Abramović method" has been the second ("Loose engagment has been the first) out of three notions the architects took under consideration. In the above diagram one can see the translation of the method to that (red) circuit one needs to follow when entering the building. As one understands through the progression of this lecture by both Sho (hei) and Marina, the new audience follows this script, that acts as a learning experience, a (desired) training for performance art.

The third notion they took into consideration has been the chair. Since in Abramovic &amp's performances long duration has been very important concept (Time for Abramović is crucial in performance) the Institute should provide the right chairs for all the different types of audiences. Comfort, relaxation, and even sleep is necessary to make you forget, and concentrate in the present. Sleeping is in fact another form of engagement.
During the wheeled chair experience, but also in other parts of the Abramović's method, it is hard to distinguish who is the audience. There are multiple audiences, like one audience that observes the audience who observes the performance and so on.
According to Shigematsu, OMA realized that with Marina Abramović everything becomes a performance. In order to address this issue of constant observation they made a hole into the Institute model through which one can "observe" what happens inside: you need to "wear" it and therefore you perform. In this case the observation of the model becomes part of the performance. 

This model attracted a lot of attention during the fundraising event, where as Shigematsu said, they did enjoy being stuck in the model. (to continue reading click PART 2)

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El Cheesemico

Every Friday of the semester, the Wentworth MArch students transform the Student Resource Room of the Architecture Department into the mecca for Grilled Cheese lovers—El Cheesemico.

Now in its second semester, El Cheesemico flaunts a semester’s worth of delivering cheesy joy and eradicating the Friday afternoon blues from the Wentworth Architecture department. We are older and all the wiser when it comes to bringing the cheese to those who need it the most. A sleep and cheese-starved architect is nothing to be taken lightly. Our commitment to crafting custom, fresh-to-order grilled cheese with the utmost care and attention reflects on our training as designers here at Wentworth. From the composition of each jalapeno-encrusted slice of golden, buttery bread, to the Texas flag proudly adorning each of our sandwiches, the finest level of detail is paramount in our process to bringing our customers the best grilled cheese north of the Rio Grande.

It was our loyal and enthusiastic patrons last semester that in part made it possible for the Texas Special Topics Studio to test ideas and to create what we hoped could become a fully-scaled manifestation of our collective experiences in Big Bend National Park and Marfa, Texas. One of these experiences, a late-night round of grilled cheese enjoyed under the starry Texas sky, led to a means of raising the money necessary to further the progress of our installation project located in the Atlantic Wharf. Out of the wake of last semester, the tradition of El Cheesemico carries on, but this time, it has helped us to realize our goals and contribute to the funding of the MArch Gala and Exhibition. This continuing tradition allows us to make collaboratively for the people, a goal that has and always will remain with us, whether the media used to create this is wood and steel or cheese, bread, and toppings. 
Text and photos by El Cheesemico: Samantha Altieri, Viviana Bernal, Erblin Bucaliu, Brittany Carey, Kristen Giannone, Ryan Kahen, Mark Morin, Bao Nguyen, Samantha Partington, Charlie Simmons, Liem Than

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Screenshot from MIT.edu webpage during March 11, 2013.