For Untitled (Ghardaïa), artist Kadar Attia sculpted a scale model of the Algerian city of the title in couscous, a regional culinary staple. The fragile and ephemeral structure is accompanied by two prints portraying foundational Western modernist architects, Le Corbusier and Fernand Pouillon, and by a copy of a UNESCO certificate that officially designates the city of Ghardaïa as a World Heritage Site.
Attia’s work calls attention to the fact that both designers borrowed from and reworked the Mozabite architecture native to the city of Ghardaïa, and to the ancient Mzab region, without acknowledging their inspiration, itself derived from France’s 19th Century colonization of Algeria and subsequent exploitation of its resources.
One of my favorite pieces from the Here and Elsewhere, group exhibit currently up at the New Museum of Contemporary Art is a mixed media installation called Qalandia 2087 by Palestinian artist Wafa Hourani.
Qalandia 2087 fills nearly an entire gallery at the museum and is lots of fun to explore while contemplating the political and sociological ramifications of the piece, especially considering what is going on in that part of the world at this very moment in time.
Built from cardboard boxes and archive photographs, Qalandia 2087(2009) is the third and last part of a series of installations by Wafa Hourani.
The artist reproduced, as an architectural model, one of main check-points and Palestinian refugee camps. Located in the north of Jerusalem, Qalandia constitutes, since 1949, Ramallah’s entrance and the exit point, dividing the country on its western bank.
Hourani was interested in this particular place in the Palestinian history, because of its proximity with its own airport, transformed into military base during the Israeli occupation. This paradox of a territory, initially connected to the rest of the world and now a place for Palestinian isolation, illustrates the politico-social reality of the country.
In Qalandia 2087, the artist proposes a futuristic vision of this place, a hundred years after the first Intifada. Contrary to the first two pieces in the series, which presented an apocalyptic vision of Qalandia – a hundred years after the exodus Palestinian for Qalandia 2047(2006) and a hundred years after the six day old war for Qalandia 2067 (2008), the last version evokes the future of Palestine on the basis of political Utopia.
The question of the occupation of a given territory is no longer relevant, the main concern is now integration. The wall, which originally divided space between the check-point and the refugee camp, has been replaced by a mirror facade.
Qalandia Airport has also retrieved its initial function as a civil airport, while the check-point has become a place reserved for public speech. Life seems to win again.
Racing cars, airline planes, whimsically shaped TV aerials, a coffee terrace and a swimming pool transform the refugee camp into a space where communication and social links become possible again. The new party, “The Mirror,” has just won the elections and is sending each Palestinian back to their history by inviting them to take part in the construction of a better future.
— Vérane Pina
Translated by Valérie Vivancos
Here and Elsewhere is on Exhibit Through September 28th, 2014, at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, located at 235 Bowery (at Prince street) in Soho, NYC.
While I was at the LA County Museum of Art this past December to see the Stanley Kubrick retrospective, I also enjoyed the experience of stumbling upon Chris Burden’s room-sized kinetic sculpture, Metropolis II – the focal points of which are 1,100 Hot Wheels cars.
Burden finished this scale cityscape, which took four years to build, in the Summer of 2011 and it was installed at LACMA that Fall. Although you can walk completely around Metropolis II from the floor of the exhibit room, you really need to climb the stairs to the catwalk-like balcony to see the action from above and fully appreciate what Burden was trying to convey. The frenetic movement of the tiny cars is hypnotizing.
In a statement at the exhibit’s opening, Burden expressed his hypothesis that, “The future of automobile transportation is that there won’t be drivers anymore.” The 1,100 customized Hot Wheels cars whirring through a city of building-block skyscrapers is a scale model of Burden’s vision for L.A.’s future: Cars that are swiftly autopiloted along pre-determined routes, moving ten times faster than they do today.
The cars are dramatically lifted eight feet in the air by a magnetized conveyor belt, then dispatched through the city on a roller coaster network of plastic roadways. The buildings are constructed with Legos and Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets and stacking slotted cards. A dozen out-of-the-box electric trains chug casually through the sculpture.
Due to the physical strain on both the sculpture and the fact that it must be physically monitored at all times to watch for “pileups,” Metropolis II runs for only one hour at a time, with a one hour break between sessions, from Friday through Sunday. The viewing schedule is below and no reservations are required:
Thinking back on the <Jello Model City of San Francisco, you can’t deny that gelatinous substances look fantastic when illuminated from within! This chandelier is made almost entirely out of strung together Gummy Bear candies and was created by artist YaYa Chou. Such gorgeousness!