La carretera que conduce a Palm Springs es una salida polvorienta y complicada de la autopista transcontinental 10. Un ejército de gigantescas turbinas eólicas a ambos lados de la State Route 111 en California domina el paisaje desértico, con sus hélices cosechando diligentemente energía para la red eléctrica. La grava y la arena hacen remolinos sobre el asfalto de la carretera que rodea la base desmoronada del monte San Jacinto. Ésta es la puerta de entrada (nada prometedora) al valle Coachella y su afamado centro turístico, y, como la señalización de la carretera anuncia, a “otras ciudades del desierto” con nombres que evocan al místico y árido Oeste: Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, Bombay Beach.
It was a summer of outrage and pain. The weeks after the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin and the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many other Black men and women, was a moment in the United States when veil that hung over the racism and white supremacy was ripped open and all the grief and anger tumbled out into the streets in mass protest. A history of oppression and a present heavy with generational burdens of inequity was laid bare. For Black and Indigenous, Latinx and Asian Americans, this is lived experience. For many white Americans, it was mirror held up to a country that is a democracy only to some.
The New Curator: Exhibiting Architecture and Design examines the challenges inherent in exhibiting design ideas. Traditionally, exhibitions of architecture and design have predominantly focused on displaying finished outcomes or communicating a work through representation.
In this ground-breaking new book, Fleur Watson unveils the emergence of the ‘new curator’. Instead of exhibiting finished works or artefacts, the rise of ‘performative curation’ provides a space where experimental methods for encountering design ideas are being tested. Here, the role of the curator is not that of ‘custodian’ or ‘expert’ but with the intent to create a shared space of encounter with audiences.
On 8 January, just days after insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, architecture critic Blair Kamin announced on Twitter that after nearly three decades he would step down from his role at the Chicago Tribune. Some, whose minds were previously reeling from the events in Washington, suddenly had a new fixation: who would replace him?
Kamin refrained from playing favourites, preferring to honour his Pulitzer-winning predecessor Paul Gapp, who served as the paper’s architecture critic for 18 years. In that vacuum, speculation erupted in tweets and on backchannels. Names were floated then caught in what seemed like a vortex but was really just an eddy compared to national events.
On a weekday in early December, the United States surpassed 3,000 daily deaths from COVID-19 the same week that vaccines began distribution in the United Kingdom. In the afternoon, I masked up to go to the pharmacy, stood on a patch of gummy duct tape demarcating a nominal six feet between me and the next customer on the linoleum floor, and picked up my prescription through a hole in a scuffed acrylic barrier. The new normal, as they say. Banal aesthetics just one step up from ad hoc.
Nearly a year into the pandemic, most of us have become armchair epidemiologists who can weigh the risks of dentist visits and outdoor brunches. Months ago, in the late spring and summer when it was thought that the worst might be behind us, many architects and designers took it upon themselves to produce tool kits and manuals analyzing scientific research and medical guidelines, and visualizing that material in the design of safety protocols for workplaces, schools, streets, housing, and museums. London architecture firm IF_DO even went so far as to create PDF manuals for safer food banks, youth clubs, community centers, and libraries—typologies that have received far less attention than nursing homes and restaurants.
Superstructures (Notes on Experimental Jetset / Volume 2) is an inquiry into the role of the city as an infrastructure for language (and simultaneously, into the role of language as an infrastructure for the city), as seen through the lens of four historical movements: Constructivism, the Situationist International, Provo, and the Post-Punk explosion. Based on a research project (and accompanying exhibition) by Experimental Jetset, the publication features footnotes written by Vasyl Cherepanyn, Leontine Coelewij, Linda van Deursen, Experimental Jetset, Owen Hatherley, Brad Haylock, Dirk van den Heuvel, Lieven Lahaye, Samata Masato, Tom McDonough, Kateryna Mishchenko, Other Forms, Mark Owens, Megan Patty, Adam Pendleton, Simon Reynolds, Ian F. Svenonius, McKenzie Wark, Lori Waxman, and Mimi Zeiger. The 420-page paperback comes with a 24-page zine, zooming in on the design typology of the original exhibition.
Last spring, as stay-at-home orders set in and consumers cleared out store shelves, we learned something that we probably knew all along: You don’t think about toilet paper until you are desperate.
And if the lowly roll is overlooked, the design of the toilet paper holder is even less considered — until now. The Echo Park gallery Marta is presenting “Under/Over,” an exhibition of more than 50 toilet paper holders by an international lineup of artists and designers.
“Reality, however utopian, is something from which people feel the need of taking pretty frequent holidays,” wrote Aldous Huxley in his 1932 dystopian novel Brave New World, and the sentiment is acute nearly 90 years later. The pandemic has intensified and accelerated a digital drift, as culture turns to the virtual— to Zoom, Animal Crossing, or TikTok—for ways to escape and normalize current conditions. Going on a reality holiday, however, risks setting up a needless opposition between activities in our daily lives and our online interactions. The truth is that we are all operating somewhere in between—and it is this middle ground where a number of emerging artists, architects, and designers are staking out territory, using this nonbinary space to address questions of subjectivity and identity.