Friday, July 30, 2010

the disappearing gallery

French artist Etienne Chambaud, along with a team of architects/engineers, have reinvigorated my interest in site-specific artwork. Their installation On Hospitality, now on view at Galeria LABOR, is married to the architecture of the gallery and reveals itself in stages. As you enter the primary exhibition space, you are confronted with a mobile of steel poles hanging from a single cable loop at the apex of the ceiling.

But it isn't mobile at all, as the cables from the lowest hanging poles plunge straight into the concrete floor, anchoring the piece.

Aside from feeling a Richard Serra-like danger as I climbed through the space, I had some big questions that needed answering. How is it possible that this rinky-dink tin roof can support the weight of these poles? I also couldn't help but wonder where the cables led to in the floor. Something about the stillness and incredible tension between these perpendicular lines gave the illusion that perhaps the piece was supported from below? Impossible.

I noticed people heading into a secondary gallery space in the basement. It was pitch black, and my eyes were adjusting slowly. Luckily, I was able to make out the large boulder hanging inches in front of my face before it could knock me out.

One question answered: the cables go through the floor, into the basement, with a boulder attached to each one. This revelation fills out the image of a mobile and also adds so much more weight to it. I'm still mystified as to how the whole thing is supported...

At the far end of the room is a rear-projected 16mm film loop showing still shots of a desert landscape in black and white. In addition to providing a much needed light-source, the film has a way of mimicking the sculpture. The medium of film in general offers the illusion of motion, but the artist chose only to represent stillness -perhaps mirroring how the giant mobile is denied its ability to move. I also admired the choice of a hidden projector. This show seems to be about revealing part of the story at a time.

Leaving the gallery, I felt mostly satisfied with what I had experienced but still had one lingering concern...

Wow. There's a 4-story, heavy-duty crane holding it all up. This single, monumental sculpture is experienced only as a three part narrative (in any order, really), and I now can complete the mobile image in my mind. I love how the gallery building itself becomes irrelevant to the internal structure of the piece, but instead, serves as a vehicle to guide our experience and understanding of it. The art object and the gallery space depend on eachother but are barely touching.

On Hospitality
Etienne Chambaud
Galeria LABOR, col. Roma



Verdolagas, squash flower, cabbage, chayote, grapefruit, avocado, mint, olive oil and grapefruit juice.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Color Match


savory cabbage pancake

Recently when I was craving snackfood and it seemed like there was nothing to make in the house, I thought of okonomiyaki, a savory Japanese pancake that our friend Ken-ichi makes. I made a batter with whole wheat flour, water, egg, salt, pepper, and anise seed. I then mixed in lots of chopped cabbage, parsley, and onion till the mixture looked more like cole slaw or a salad dressed with cake batter. I poured a large amount into an oiled skillet and browned the cake on both sides. It's served with a pool of crema, olive oil, and a spinkle of pimenton.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Biblioteca Vasconcelos

Kenny and I went on a field trip recently to the new Biblioteca Vasconcelos designed by Mexican architect Alberto Kalach. It's now the city's largest public library, but the building alone has become a national landmark.

The general shape of the library is simple -a long and narrow corridor, but some innovative choices in the design make for a stimulating experience. For example, the gentle pyramidal silhouette gives the building a sense of weight, and the outer shell of thin slanted shades gives the impression of solidity. This "first glance" gets flipped on its head when you walk inside...

Surprise! All of the bookshelves are floating, and the outer walls have all but vanished. The sense of weightlessness and light flooding in from all sides in this endless tunnel of books is dizzying. It felt like something out of a Harry Potter movie.

The bookshelves are suspended in the space by steel supports from the walls and ceiling.

Just like how your perception of the building changes dramatically as you walk inside, it continues to evolve as you explore the different levels. What appears as a dense and busy cluster of shelves busting out from across the way

disappears as you walk past.

The floors are made of frosted glass tiles (which further enhance the effects of light and transparency).

One of the best surprises was going to the bathroom. No fluorescent-light dungeons here. The glass panels allow air to pass through, so it's like you're peeing outside. And what a great way to deal with ventilation.

The surrounding landscape design integrates seamlessly with the architecture and offers just as many unexpected twists.

This grand entrance doubles as a hike.