Room for Thought: Madelon Vriesendorp and Charlie Koolhaas

At the Lucy Mackintosh Gallery in Lausanne, an artist and a photographer, mother and daughter, came to play with a unique space available just for them.

To begin, the fascination of a gallery owner in love with her work, happy to create shows for her own pleasure, receiving them as gifts from her artists: this is Lucy Mackintosh. The gallery is the gracious and unique space that first housed the prestigious Architecture Department at the University of Lausanne, redesigned with rare intelligence and sophistication by architects Decostered & Rahm to become a gallery which opens up to offer subtlety and possibility to whomever installs a show. All this certainly does not happen by chance in Lausanne, a cosmopolitan city, with which, at different times, Chanel and Mozart, Shelley and Cocteau, Byron and Simenon have fallen in love, also due to the city's ability to suddenly make things exist that are impossible elsewhere. So here, at the suggestion of Lucy Mackintosh, not far from the charming resort and beautiful Lake Geneva, mother-and-daughter Madelon Vriesendorp and Charlie Koolhaas came to play with a unique space available just for them. We all know how important the former is for contemporary culture, having founded Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) 1975 with Rem Koolhaas, for whom she who would later produce some of the most beautiful drawings in Delirious New York including its memorable cover. With studies in sociology at New York University under her belt, Charlie has collaborated with various cutting-edge photography magazines including the sophisticated TANK ; she has created an international newspaper in Asia, UNIT , and produced an exciting series of photographs of Cairo originally published by Domus.

"Room for Thought" is the title of the show that we describe today. They are the authors. The first thing that strikes the visitor is the mysterious exchange that they imagined with the space in which they set up the show - a gamble for which they received at least as much as they gave. It is a complex organization of whispered games without ever uttering the word "I" except when doing so could influence "us." The harmony of the forms of expression (photography, sculpture, mysterious boxes in a totally surrealist spirit that are absolutely delicious) is striking. The choice, as immediate as it was risky, to open to the exterior by drawing volumetric frames, suspended above some photographs, which confer upon the whole the form of the window, surprises; we are in an ideal and wonderful room from which to observe the world and where the world itself can drop by and observe us. It can be observed thinking of the exterior, but it can also be discovered through both Madelon's sculptures and objects as well as Charlie's photographs and assemblages. The photographs, displayed with intelligence, do not disappear, but on the contrary create very rapid mental associations, melding and disintegrating based on whether they are viewed on their own (this can happen for a few seconds), as a set (at first sight is the most natural reaction), as isolated or in dialogue with Madelon's forms (this step is absolutely obligatory in light of the empathy that flows between them). Instant connections, sudden sensations, singular encounters with objects that are, for us, both familiar and distant.

This game between the intimacy of a room and the surprise of the world continues; first of all because they return in a series of small seemingly Mexican-inspired characters, countless variations on controversial heroes from contemporary iconography, and secondly because photographs and objects do not cease to amaze and question the way we mix cultures, forms, singular ideas, ideal cities. Echoes of history are not missing; they are obtained through the invention of "divertissement" similar to those of the best surrealists and atmospheres that are, in some cases, Magrittian almost to the point of losing the substance of the various levels of the visitor's gaze. Management of the signs (here often observed volumetrically) in the installation might refer to the improbable grace of some great illustrators and draftsmen (such as Steinberg). A wall or a door, a body, a glance - all photographed - collide with this or that mysterious object positioned by Madelon, changing the way we look at it (and vice versa). Judging and integrating what strikes us can come about extremely quickly, as was said, in consonance with certain folk traditions. All absurdly alive so that invention and discovery become pleasureful dialogue with the world. Federico Nicolao

Room For Thought with Madelon Vriesendorp & Charlie Koolhaas
Lucy Mackintosh Gallery
7 avenue des Acacias, Lausanne

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