What once passed for a future or
The landscapes of the living dead
March 4 - April 2, 2005
Alexander Apóstol, Walead Beshty, George Kontos and Santiago Sierra
Curated by Magali Arriola
ART2102 is pleased to present the work of Alexander Apóstol, Walead Beshty, George Kontos and Santiago Sierra in What once passed for a future or The landscapes of the living dead, an exhibition curated by Magali Arriola. While planning the redesign of the Zeppelin Field in Nuremberg, the German architect Albert Speer promulgated his theory of Ruin Value: by replacing reinforced concrete with traditional masonry techniques, the dreary sight of rusting rubble would be precluded while hastening the decaying process of a building. This, in the future, would allow the architecture of the present to stand as a remembrance of heroic and historical times. Years later, Robert Smithson, wrote his multi-cited A tour of the monuments of Passaic, New Jersey where he formulated his statement on Ruins in reverse regarding contemporary urban debris; an “anti-romantic mise-en-scene” of the suburbs existing “without a rational past and without the big events of history... -just what passes for a future.” These two opposing views on an anticipated future coincide in that they both imply an idea of architecture that, following Smithson´s words, seems to rise into ruins from its very conception.
Since the notions of past and future seem to have collapsed in the haziness of contemporary urban landscape, What once passed for a future or The landscapes of the living dead revisits what might be regarded as the unattested memorials to the ruination of urban modernity and the construction of mass utopia. It also questions the place and function that the concept of ruin plays in contemporary urban culture, opening the possibility of reinvesting it with the political significance of looking backwards towards the future.
The works of Alexander Apóstol (Venezuela), Walead Beshty (US), George Kontos (Greece) and Santiago Sierra (Mexico) point at the blurring of historical and cultural topographies following the different fluctuations and constraints of their social, economical or political coordinates. By bringing to the forefront both the ideological construct that architectural and urban planning represent, and the unprompted consumption of the built environment by its users, these works challenge the notion of the ruin as a celebratory and legitimating instance; it becomes instead an emblematic cue that, by addressing casual memory as a substitute for long lasting history, might help to recover some of the stories that have frequently been silenced by what was once considered a redeeming future.
See our online forum that features conversations with Rita Gonzalez, Magali Arriola, Walead Beshty and Gabriela Jauregui
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