Thoughts about this project appear, change, and disappear constantly. Here is a snapshot of our most recent thoughts:
WHAT ARE THE DISAPPEARING MUSEUMS?
A study in architecture, ephemerality, and locality, the Disappearing Museums project examines environments, both built and natural, through art. Essentially life-sized “drafts” of select buildings, the Disappearing Museums themselves are realized in three dimensions and unexpectedly installed in the remote Icelandic desert. These sculptural blueprints are composed of salt core, a biodegradable material that naturally dissolves when exposed to rain, and as a result, the project aims to decontextualize and re-evaluate architecture as we traditionally know and understand it. In other words, the Disappearing Museums, which are fleeting and displaced, contrast with the sturdy, integrated, and permanent structures of contemporary society. The viewer is thus asked to reflect on the importance of architecture in daily life, as well as to consider ingrained expectations for--and dependence on--such buildings and their surroundings.
Although the project touches on a number of themes, a key characteristic of the Disappearing Museums is their focus on the intrinsically ephemeral, even sculpture-like, nature of infrastructure. Guaranteed to degrade, the drafts demonstrate, albeit in sped-up fashion, the inevitable decline and eventual deterioration of the constructed environment. In this way, evolution and the passage of time are brought to the forefront; the Disappearing Museums poetically point not only to the momentariness of humanity but also to the longevity of nature.
The Disappearing Museums’ unlikely installation in the desolate wilderness of Iceland is also central to the project. An extreme contrast to the buildings’ likely urban environments, this desert locale pointedly draws attention to all that is absent, most notably: communities, infrastructure, and other buildings. The absence of these things at the installation site is further amplified by the presence of the viewer, who, having traveled to this secluded location, also finds him or herself profoundly displaced.
WHY TEMPORARY BUILDINGS?
"The ideal building has three elements; it is sturdy, useful, and beautiful."
In his paramount work, De architectura, the Roman architect Vitruvius identifies durability – or sturdiness – as one of the three key elements that define an ideal building. The Disappearing Museums project explores the longstanding human impulse to realize indestructible structures, and it explicitly subverts this very ideal. The promised decline of the three-dimensional designs upon interaction with weather is central to the project’s conception.
Here, the inevitability of atrophy is prized rather than evaded, offering fresh perspective not only on the objectives of architecture but also on its innate nature. Likewise, as the salt core degrades, the structures function symbolically, pointing to the ephemerality of human life. In these ways and more, the Disappearing Museums project attempts to demonstrate the oft-overlooked significance of the incomplete and the transitory.
WHY NON-FUNCTIONAL ARCHITECTURE?
"Architecture shares the narrative qualities of sculpture at an essential level; both transform the relationship between object and ground into a poetic expression."
Thom Mayne, founder of Morphosis Architects
A dual responsibility to both functionality and aesthetics is indeed at the heart of an architect’s practice. To further explore these qualities, and in particular the artistic elements of a building, the Disappearing Museums project renders given structures non-functional and essentially sculptural. Uninhabitable and incomplete, the Disappearing Museums are in no way utilitarian and are thus aligned more closely to our understanding of the arts than to design, technology, or science.
By thus converting architecture into art, the Disappearing Museums project explores the potential of buildings, structures, and social interaction in a context free of limitations, rules, and common thought patterns. In this unique environment, which might be considered something approaching a utopia, creativity is fostered, enlightened perspectives adapted, and critical discourse encouraged.
WHY EXTENDING THE BLUEPRINTS?
Through the means of an art installation, the Disappearing Museums project offers a new, experimental, and sensory space for designing. The limitlessness of the vast Icelandic desert imposes little restrictions, and traditional pen-to-paper blueprints or scaled-down models are, in the context of the Disappearing Museums project, traded in for more experiential and lifelike renderings.
Translated into three dimensions, yet not fully realized, these building plans are arguably more complete versions of their two-dimensional iterations, as well as more accessible to “readers” of all backgrounds. At the same time, their incomplete states continue to foster creativity, imagination, and ideas.
Neither material nor intangible, neither shapeless nor fully formed, the architect’s draft lies somewhere between a building and the idea of one. By realizing a series of blueprints in salt core, the Disappearing Museums project allows such drafts to briefly occupy a fragment of time and space.
The Disappearing Museums project functions as commentary on the history of museums and their various incarnations in the 21st century. Museums today largely sustain centuries-old values relating to the care, preservation, presentation, and interpretation of cultural artifacts and collections.
In the context of the Disappearing Museums, however, these fundamental responsibilities are released, rendering the time-honored notion of a museum essentially obsolete. Popular conceptions of a museum are also undercut by the structures’ extreme ephemerality, isolation, and weightlessness. All of this is to demonstrate – and ultimately question – the rigid, arguably anachronistic definition of a museum that continues to be accepted by contemporary society.
WHY IN ICELAND?
The Disappearing Museums project is specifically conceived as an installation for the uninhabited landscape of Iceland. In part a nod to Iceland’s rich architectural history, the project demonstrates a deep respect for the nation’s tradition of harmonious relationships between nature and the built environment (the development of grass-and-turf-covered houses comes to mind, for instance). Moreover, the project embraces the unpredictability of the Icelandic weather and the element of chance it introduces into the works’ atrophy.
On a more social and political level, the appearance--and disappearance--of the salt core installations in unspoiled nature demonstrates a harmless approach to building, a particularly striking action against today’s backdrop of global overdevelopment.Thoughts by Sandino Scheidegger & Lindsey Cash
Who knows when it will finally take place? Good things take time, and we are in no hurry.
Random Institute embarks with the theater director Marcus Rehberger on a pioneering experiment: leaving the audience in the dark, as well as the actors. Presenting a theater play that fully develops in pitch darkness it leaves the scenes to the imagination of the public. Well almost. Every few minutes the room is lightened for milliseconds by a flash, revealing an awe-inspiring scenery that proves again and again that imagination might be only a mutual misunderstanding.
The Playtime festival centers around an elastic exhibition, a 12-hour sequence of presentations by international project spaces that experiment with temporality and visibility. Selected were art initiatives that dare to take risks in their programming and identify new trends in art which are often overlooked by institutional frameworks.
Each of these initiatives presents in its own unique way, a project that stretches the boundaries of space in which audience, art and artist collide.
Playtime is organized by K_nstvl___ Platform for Experimental Art Spaces.
This festival runs from May 20th to May 22nd, 2017 at SSBA Salon (Stadsschouwburg) in Amsterdam. Random Institute's contribution to the festival will take place on May 21nd at 4pm.
Other participants: Apice for Artists (Amsterdam, NL), Askeaton Contemporary Arts (Limerick, IE), B32 (Maastricht, NL), Buenos Tiempos, Int. (Brussels, BE), Bureau des Réalités (Brussels, BE), Club Solo (Breda, NL) icw M HKA CODE ROOD (Arnhem, NL), Corridor Project Space (Amsterdam, NL), Deborah Bowmann (Brussels, BE), EMBASSY gallery (Edinburgh, GB), Galerie Gallery (Rotterdam, NL), Le Salon (Brussels, BE), Mertens Frames Project Space by Plan B (Amsterdam, NL), NEVERNEVERLAND (Amsterdam, NL), Nile Sunset Annex (Cairo, EG), Rainbow Soulclub (Amsterdam, NL), RGKSKSRG (nomadic), Samet Yilmaz (nomadic), Kunsthuis SYB (Beetsterzwaag, NL), Treize (Paris, FR), WINDMAKERS (Den Haag, NL) and Kunstverein Zürich (CH).
If Paris were an aquarium, Charly would be its tropical fish, jumping out of the water each night with no one watching. The award-winning fishmonger peddles fish during the day and tours as a drag queen through the French capital’s underground scene at night. Now, for the first time, Charly is crossing the Atlantic to take part in the Despacio performance festival, uniting his many worlds: fresh fish, art performances and queer appearances.
Upon entering Charly’s fish market, situated on a busy Paris street, one quickly observes a universe of dreams and desire: glassy eyes of dead fish stare at you; posters for drag shows paper the walls; a handwritten thank you note from the mayor, Anne Hidalgo, perches alongside his Michelin medal. It’s more than a fish market, it’s a hodgepodge of the various stories life can offer when one's passion is given free reign. It’s a stage, where fish are the props and the clients become the public.
When day turns to night, our fisherman lets his diva emerge, darting like a tropical fish through the underground rivers of Paris. In placing Charly's fish-market at center stage of the festival, Despacio celebrates the grandeur of a man's dreams, desires and duality – each one a stand-in for our own.
On April 29th several international and local artists will turn his shop into an unending stream of performance and fantasy.
From drag shows, musical contributions, theatrical interventions, to long-durational art performances – all will question the roles we tend to play in life, as well as those we tend to ignore. To transgress the rules of society and fashion is to give rise to an inner creativity and break with conformity.
Visitors will bear witness to a real fish-market, one where they can buy fresh fish and see them prepared into meals on-site. For French speakers, there will be plenty of opportunity for conversations with the enigmatic fishmonger. For the non-French speakers, body language will suffice. In Charly's grotto, it's anything goes.
The fish market and performance festival takes place on April 29th 2017 at Despacio. (Facebook Event)
Participating artists: Charly Le Poissonnier, Dino Real, Elyla Sinvergüenza, Javier Calvo, Monsieur Bien, Oscar Ruiz-Schmidt, Señorita Abril, Robertito and more.
Directed by Sandino Scheidegger
This marks the second edition of the festival. It was originally conceived by Sandino Scheidegger for Random Institute and staged in 2014 in Zurich. Credits for drag film: Performer: Elyla Sinverguenza, Camera, Directing and Editing: Guillermo Sáenz, Costume and Styling: Marcus Carmon, Production: Nicholas Blevis & David Torres, Music: Arca - Anoche. Credits for film about Charly in Paris: Camera: Fabian Niklaus, Animation: Raphael Etter, Concept: Leila Hincelin and Sandino Scheidegger. Credits for film about Charly in Costa Rica: Ernesto Varga. Credits for photos of the festival: Juliette Chrétien and Erno Hilarion.
As if it were an appendix of the mothership, Carlos Fernández docks at Despacio a habitat that encapsulates not only his work, but also himself and even a patch of life where each one of us might find ourselves.
May 27th: Plants Workshop Carlos Fernández & Sergio Rojas Chaves
June 10th: La Mala Mano Farming Workshop with Carlos Fernández
COORDINATES: 9°56′00″N 84°05′00″
OTHER MARKERS: Avenida Central, Calle 11, San José, Costa Rica
RESOURCES: canvas, plants, seeds (I), Carlos’s hat (II), soil and chicha (III)
ACTIVATIONS: pedagogical workshops (IV), funky bar (V), seed exchange (VI), and others, still unknown.
This is a real person’s temporary and imaginary work camp. At this station, a series of live elements coexist; they are not the final products but parts of a simmering process. It is also an installation that sustains itself through collective participation and collaboration.
While participating in this experience, the concept of excess provides clues and serves as a common thread: in abundance lies beauty. The plants’ greenness blends with its smells and paintings function as registers of past lessons and future explanations. It is imperative to allow oneself to be enchanted by the layers that coat and recoat every corner—superimposed, hidden information, and the possibility of germination in every square centimeter of the space.
We discover that we can access a fragment of a practice that has long represented not the intermingling of one or two disciplines but rather Carlos’s life itself: his everyday to-and-fro and his passion for agriculture, art, botany, and education. The production of this work represents the search to redefine these practices as well as an act of appropriation.
This station, set at the center of San José, will offer moments for learning, contemplation, and dance. Always in the spirit of exchange—of knowledge and experiences, of seeds and the multiple possibilities between practices that will here appear to overflow and interconnect. There is a subtle but continuous invitation of integration; we are invited to engage in the (self)care inherent to the relationship that we can create with the soil and harvest.
Suddenly, art is life understood through the idea of purpose: of working the soil as if it were a canvas; of generating spaces to share or exhibit beyond the traditional ones. Even of needing to collect and exchange seeds as a reflex of turning the gaze toward the beginning, a gesture that seeks to perpetuate life.
Thoughts by Paula Piedra. Translated by Paula Kupfer.
Carlos Fernández's solo show at Despacio in San José, Costa Rica opens March 23th and runs through April 23th, 2017. (Facebook Event)
The indoor garden that is part of the exhibition will remain throughout 2017 and serve as Despacio’s new central archive.
Twins Jörg and Rolf Fischer are deeply bound to one another by their fate: they were both born deaf and, due to severe diabetes, gradually lost their sight during the course of their lives. Photographer Marlena Waldthausen moved in with Jörg and Rolf to capture one of the most remarkable relationships ever recorded, forged by their love and care for one another, everyday in every way.
Born deaf and now blind, 49-year-old twins Jörg and Rolf Fischer are totally reliant on one another for companionship and communication. They share everything, including a bond that transcends everyday brotherly love.
The brothers experience life very differently from the way most of us do, and that is what makes their relationship so unique. As it is understandably difficult for them to communicate with the outside world, they support each other in their daily lives through their own language and humour.
Jörg is now completely blind. Rolf, who is still partially sighted, tries to support his brother as best as he can. He guides Jörg, even though he does not see the way properly himself. If there is written information, he reads it to Rolf in spite of the great effort.
Photographer Marlena Waldthausen lived with Jörg and Rolf at their care facility and in their parents home for more than 7 months, documenting their bond with her camera and doing her best to learn their language.
This solo exhibition opens on March 23th and runs through April 22nd, 2017 at Despacio (Facebook Event).
Marlena Waldthausen was born close to Stuttgart in southern Germany in 1987 and is currently based in Amsterdam. She spent several years in Latin America living in many different cities, including Buenos Aires and Mexico City. From 2008 to 2012, she studied Regional Studies of Latin America at Cologne University before becoming a student of Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hannover.
Outside of her assignments, Waldthausen works mostly on long term personal projects in film and photography. She won the 2016 VGH Award, is one of five winners of the 2016 Feature Shoot Emerging Photography Award, and was nominated for the 2016 Freelens Award and the 2015 Balkan Photo Award.