Last month I enjoyed following media coverage of an unusual writing workshop and design studio held at Columbia University. Italian architect and writer Matteo Pericoli originated his “Laboratory of Literary Architecture” course in Turin, and brought it to New York this spring as a joint course for students of the School of Writing and the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
Although the photographer Lauri Lyons calls New York home, she is ever on the move through her creative projects. Her current body of work spans Africa, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Europe, and the United States, and has connected the globe through African diaspora and identity formation themes. Often pictures and languages within her portrait photography evoke origins that are both ancestral and geographic. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the photojournalism magazine NOMADS, which is also dedicated to the peripatetic state.
From Place to Place: The Portrait Photography of Lauri Lyons
At the threshold of summer, the sunglasses are on. Running in blue-sky mode, I’ve been talking up some ideas for multiplying the writing workshop times the architecture studio. Their product would be a format for storytelling across media, an alignment of complimentary strengths really well suited to engage the built environment.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, “Open Air, Relational Architecture”, 2012. Commissioned by the Association for Public Art, Philad
Twenty-four searchlights, all high-powered, were set on rooftops around Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway last September and October. They were programmed, however, to avoid shining their spotlights on any physical objects: no buildings, no naked windows, no trees. Instead, they glimmered straight up into the sky: twenty-four columns of light responding — here solid, there faint, twitching and beating and sweeping across the sky together, then separating — to the voices of Philadelphia residents.
Travis Meinolf, Fabric panels made for with Kai Althoff, Whitney Biennial, 2012
If you need a blanket, Travis Meinolf, the self-appointed Action Weaver, will give you one. For free. And it won’t be a common fleece or wool number. It will look like folk art. It could be made by the artist or by many hands, and perhaps strung together from woven cloths of varying stripes, colors, and sizes. These free hand-woven blankets are a component of the artist’s ongoing project Blanket Offer, part of the artist’s grand mission to bring weaving to the masses.
“DC Arteries,” a collaboration between photographers Kate MacDonnell and Lely Constantinople, traces the subtle shifts of character and form that mark the landscape along the roads of Washington, DC. They capture the graffiti, the store signs, and the faded paint that make up the urban still-life passed along the way from one place to the next. These fragmented elements capture a fleeting sense of place in a dynamic city.
In every family, traditional portraits are hung up or carried around: cousins arrayed before a monument, parents holding their grandchildren, long-gone ancestors smiling from a black and white beyond. Though we cherish their aura, the faces and places remain static.
Everyone has sat on a gray, metal folding chair: waiting at the DMV, as an extra guest at a dinner table, working in a makeshift office. Tanya Aguiñiga, a Los Angeles-based designer, transforms this ubiquitous piece of furniture in her series, Felt Chairs. Aguiñiga spends up to twenty laborious hours lovingly hand-felting each simple folding chair, covering it in vibrant color. Metal becomes a skeleton for bright and singular textured felt, akin to skin. What was cold is now warm, what was common is now individual. How we place ourselves in this chair has changed entirely.
C-MacKenzie (Chris MacKenzie) removes the background imagery from his photographs, creating uncanny visions of people in surreal blank settings. Although his figures often assume the pose of spectators, they gaze upon nothingness. In creating these images, C-MacKenzie draws on his background in motion picture editing and post production, in which mistakes are removed from an image and figures are pasted to scenery. He envisions his artistic process as “withholding information” from the viewer. By negating the sense of place, C-MacKenzie creates an unknowable and mysterious world.