Current 07/2007

The Bankside Power House in London became the Tate Modern, for instance. The 'Ruhrgebied' in Germany was originally the centre of coal mining, cokes and steel production. These activities collapsed after Chinese and Indian companies entered the market. The German government decided that the whole area was to be transformed into a cultural and touristic centre. The project was given the name 'Emscher Park'.

Part of this project is the immense coal and cokes production facility in the city of Essen. It was declared world heritage Unesco site. The gigantic factory named 'Zollverein' has been in production for only 55 years. It closed production in 1986 and was considered to be dismantled and partially sold to the Chinese. That did not happen. The immense complex is now a tourist attraction and it houses many cultural institutions. The complex is still under development. The 'Red Punkt' design museum is part of the complex. The original sites are not only conserved; they even grow. The Tate modern is likely to have a spectacular extension and the Zollverein has a new school for design and management. The school housed this year the exhibition: 'Hundert beste plakate 06'.

The Tate Modern London in the building of the old Bankside Power House.


The spectacular planned extension of the Tate Modern by Herzog & de Meuron architects.


Impressive, often anonymous engineer's architecture in Essen Germany. Now a Unesco heritage site.
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New extensions on the Zollverein complex: above the new school of design and management and a new immense escalator with orange lit sides as if one is held between two plates of hot steel.


The city of Muenster has an international sculpture exhibition every ten years, curated by the highly respected Kasper Koenig. This year both events take place in the same year. It seem to be an unique opportunity to see the current state of the visual arts.

The reviews of the Documenta in Kassel were not inviting enough for me to make the trip. But I went for two days to Muenster. These two days were not exciting. Contemporary art exhibitions require a lot of reading and video viewing. Not very much point in doing so 'in situ'.

It seems that almost boundless financial support does not always create quality. In the New Yorker the current 'crisis' was voiced as follows: Peter Schjedahl wrote: 'Inflated financially and, through booming institutions, socially, art may never have been more esteemed while meaning less. The British graffiti artist 'Banksy' who made his fame outside the art establishment said: 'I don't think that art is much of a spectator sport these days, I don't know how the art world gets away with it, it's not like you hear songs on the radio that are just a mess of noise and then the dj says: 'If you read the thesis that comes with this it would make more sense'.



Size Still Counts

That is surprising. The first warnings given by the 'Club of Rome' in the early seventies that there were limits on (economic) growth generated a broad movement supported by designers and artists for environmental conscientious design and an appropriate way of living.

This time around size is hardly ever considered too pompous or environmentally embarrassing despite more founded environmental concern. Just visit musea and current art exhibitions and there is no doubt that sheer size is intended 'to blow you out of your shoes'.




The Central Station in Milan (Italy) could be considered as the least austere way to accomodate train passengers in transit. Dictator Benito Mussolini had also an entire different function for the building, he wanted the building to express the power of his regime. Somehow the taste for size has returned.



The 'Pinakothek der Moderne' in Muenchen can hardly be considered a modest way to exhibit art and design. Exhibition spaces start to have pharaoh temple-like proportions.


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The French government also desires to impress its cultural standing by the use of sheer size. This year the German artist Anselm Kiefer accommodated the desire to fill the immense space inside the Grand Palais in Paris by building seven huge stand-alone concrete 15 metre high galleries, each filled with gigantic canvasses and installations. The art clearly starts to bear traces of the industrial production necessary to bring it about. The events in the Grand Palais are called 'Monumenta' to avoid any misinterpretation of the intent.




Kasimir Malevich painted in 1913 a black square on a canvas of about one by one metre. The 'Kunsthalle' in the German city of Hamburg made an exhibition this summer as an hommage to Malevich. To attract visitors the black square was erected as a three dimensional cube in a size competing with the museum building.



Thomas Couderc work updates

Thomas Couderc has updated their work, see it here.

Clément Vauchez work updates

Clément Vauchez has updated their work, see it here.

Alexandre Dimos work updates

Alexandre Dimos has updated their work, see it here.

Yu Guang work updates

Yu Guang has updated their work, see it here.

Alan Chan work updates

Alan Chan has updated their work, see it here.

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