James Wines and SITE: Retrospective 1970–2020

28.11.2020 – 25.07.2021
Museum for Architectural Drawing, Berlin

The exhibition presents around 60 drawn works by the artist and architect James Wines (born 1932), who already concerned himself with “green” architecture in the 1980s, when terms such as “climate change”, “sustainability”, “renewable energies” and “human scale” did not yet have the meaning in the world of building that they have today. Even then, Wines’ idea of design was about combining contemporary art and sculpture with architecture, often from a socially critical point of view. This is how he created his most famous works for his architectural firm SITE (Sculpture in the Environment), including the branch showrooms of the BEST stores and Ghost Parking Lot. The main theme of the exhibition is “Context as Content” – reference to the space and content of a context is a chief concern of all SITE’s work. For example, the BEST stores are inspired by the throwaway culture, box-shaped shopping centers and the general approval of their ubiquity. Including a subliminal acceptance of everyday materiality in architecture unlocked the possibility of using art where the public least expected it – in this case along endless highways with stores. Before SITE intervened in the streetscape, these structures were never seen as anything but non-descript places to shop. Accepting the banality of the supermarket as a raw material for transformation opened up a multitude of non-formalistic interpretations: the inclusion of people’s instinctive responses to everyday places as a source of interpretation for art in public space; the use of architecture itself as an object of art (and not as the goal of a conventional design process); the interpretation of buildings as criticism of themselves; the merging of landscape and architecture, which often makes it difficult to see where one begins and the other ends; the inclusion of socially, psychologically and physically activating “trigger elements” in parks, squares and gardens that encourage pedestrians to interact with each another and with their immediate surroundings.

Many of Wines’ drawings, such as Highrise of Homes and Ghost Parking Lot, are now in well-known museum collections, including those of the Museum of Modern Arts in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Wines lives and works in New York.

A catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Introduction by James Wines

Introduction by Nadejda Bartels, curator of the exhibition

Image: World Ecology Pavilion – Expo ‘92*, 1990, watercolour on paper, 38,10 x 60,96 cm © James Wines

*the intention of this Expo 92 pavilion is to celebrate all nations’ participation in the international environmental initiative. As a response to the Expo’s theme of ‘discovery’, the building is designed as a microcosm of the typical landscape and terrain associated with the seven continents. The configuration is defined by a row of parallel, ribbon-like, structures that function as verdant canopies, enclosures for exhibitions, shade cover for a plaza and an acoustical band shell over an outdoor theater. The interior exhibitions show various contexts where visitors can relate to both the surface and interior geology of the earth.

This exhibition was kindly supported by Guardian Glass, Masttech and speech. Media partner: radioeins.

IMPRINT OF THE FUTURE. DESTINY OF PIRANESI'S CITY. Exhibition and research by Sergei Tchoban

15.10.2020 - 31.01.2021
Istituto Centrale per la Grafica, Rome

The Istituto Centrale per la Grafica in Rome and the Museum for Architectural Drawing in Berlin present an exhibition by the architect and draughtsman Sergei Tchoban. A native of St Petersburg who has organically absorbed the harmony of this city’s proportionality and similitude, Sergei Tchoban has always striven to understand the laws which govern the development of cities like St Petersburg and the great prototypes in whose image it was created. Is it possible to preserve these cities’ outstanding quality? And is it possible to pursue this quality today, at the current stage of development of architecture? These are the central questions posed in the present exhibition, which marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 – 1778). One of the greatest artists of his time, Piranesi succeeded in capturing the development of the European city as a phenomenon which, despite many layers and internal contradictions, is nevertheless harmonious.

Until the principle of contrast, as a predictable consequence of technological progress, became a key vector in the aesthetics of architecture during the 20th century, the image of the European city was relatively homogeneous and, as a result, coherent – which is possibly the reason why we a priori perceive historical cities created earlier than the 20th century as harmonious ensembles and, in their best manifestations, as masterpieces. With the start of the 20th century and architecture’s acquisition of fundamentally new capabilities in creating building forms and surfaces, the process of introducing new strata into the urban setting became especially dramatic. But does this process really imply destruction of a masterpiece? Are we destroying harmony or creating a fundamentally new type of harmony? This is the main question as far as the present exhibition (and almost every European city today) is concerned. It is a question which Sergei Tchoban sets out to analyze and answer – extremely expressively and polemically – with the help of architectural drawings.

A publication accompanies the exhibition.

Istituto Centrale per la Grafica
Via della Stamperia 6
00187 Rom

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