Triggering Reality

Curators Giampiero Sanguigni and Marco Brizzi explore the work of eleven Dutch artists and architects at the Centro Pecci, pinpointing new strategies and defining a new, possible horizon for future artistic and architectural production.

"The Great Recession has generated in the West an economy of fear and a culture of repentance. [...] Both political discourse and intellectual debate are governed by regret for the excesses and by a purpose of amendment, clearing the path for a time of penitence. [...] Some architects are using the crisis to shed material weight and purify the spirit, going back to the basic principles of a discipline that has always set out to do more with less, supplying well-being and beauty with limited technical and economic means." Thus writes Luis Fernández-Galiano in his 2011 article Days of Penitence , describing the deceleration and change that European architecture — and Spanish in particular — is experiencing due to economic recession.

In the article, the concept of atonement, aside from any pessimistic consideration, is referred to the opportunity that this recession brings with it: the global economic situation offers architects the possibility to purify their approach and to return to the basic principles of the profession, abandoning the excesses that have characterised the European architectural panorama and its icon-projects to address reality with a more ethical and aware attitude.

While Spain offers an important viewpoint regarding the change occurring in European architecture, the condition observed by curator Giampiero Sanguigni and Marco Brizzi with the exhibition Triggering Reality. New conditions for art and architecture in the Netherlands , currently on display at Centro Luigi Pecci for Contemporary Art , adds further food for thought to this complex consideration, describing how the global economic dynamics and the political, social and cultural situation of a country are helping to define a new possible horizon for future artistic and architectural production, through the work of eleven practitioners.
Top: DUS architects' <em>Bucky Bar</em> (Rotterdam, 2010) allows for a spontaneous party on the street during wintertime. Photo by DUS architects. Above: Wouter Klein Velderman, <em>Ivory and Pride</em>, 2010 and <em>Now it can rain</em>, 2012. Photo by Ivan-D'Alì
Top: DUS architects' Bucky Bar (Rotterdam, 2010) allows for a spontaneous party on the street during wintertime. Photo by DUS architects. Above: Wouter Klein Velderman, Ivory and Pride , 2010 and Now it can rain , 2012. Photo by Ivan-D'Alì
The exhibition, organised by the Centro Pecci and Image , with support from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Rome, brings together the work of six artists and five architects: Atelier Van Lieshout , Boundary Unlimited , DUS architects , Haas & Hahn , Nicoline Van Harskamp , Anne Holtrop / Bas Princen, Wouter Klein Velderman , Krijn de Koning , NIO Architects , and ONIX , who all share the same tendency to abandon disciplinary confines to address the reality of contemporary space with an omnivorous and transversal attitude: on the one hand, there are artists that work using architecture as an instrument for interpreting reality, and on the other, architects that use media and supports typical of artistic practice to establish relationships with the city and context they work in.
Haas & Hahn and Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, <em>Philly Painting</em>, Philadelphia, USA, 2011–2012
Haas & Hahn and Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Philly Painting , Philadelphia, USA, 2011–2012
At the Centro Pecci, the exhibition has been curated in such a way as to present a comparison between an architect and an artist on five specific themes, that articulate and investigate the shared territory that the exhibition highlights: attention to reality. Their work addresses the matter with a typical Northern European concreteness: while art and architecture have often been called upon in times of crisis to blur their boundaries to suggest new directions and visions for the future — what comes to mind, without moving too far from Tuscany, is the provocative and often ironic projects expressed by the protagonists of radical architecture. Triggering Reality highlights the seriousness and pragmatism with which the authors concentrate on the reality that surrounds them.
Curators Sanguigni and Brizzi bring together projects and works that — to return to the title of the exhibition — "trigger" new realities starting with already existing conditions
Anne Holtrop and Bas Princen, <em>Batara</em>,  2012. Photo by Bas Princen
Anne Holtrop and Bas Princen, Batara , 2012. Photo by Bas Princen
In particular, Wouter Klein Velderman works on themes linked to the collective imagination and to cultural tradition. With the installation Ivory and Pride (2010) he reflects on the theme of precariousness, relating the unstable equilibrium of the long beam and the weakness of the materials used with the fragility of reality and the uncertainty that characterises this period at a social, economic and political level. The Bucky Bar (2010) testifies the research of DUS Architects in the field of ephemeral, participated transformation of public space: this temporary pavilion was built spontaneously in the centre of Rotterdam by regular citizens, using their own umbrellas. As is the case with other projects by DUS, reuse of ordinary materials assumes a new social value, linked to the creation of unexpected spaces capable of condensing new activities in public space. Meanwhile, Haas & Hahn present photographs of Philly Painting (2011-2012), an urban intervention recently realised for the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia that, via the participation of citizens, addresses notions of re-appropriation and collective consciousness. The operation consists in the realisation of large mural paintings on the buildings: the end, apparently superficial, is in reality that of bringing out the dormant identity of a neighbourhood that was once very active in the city, digging into the collective consciousness of the public and starting up participatory projects that transform the existing urban environment.
Left, Anne Holtrop and Bas Princen, <em>Temporary Museum (Lake) & A Tower</em>,  2011. Photo by Bas Princen. Right, Krijn De Koning, <em>5 spaces. Work for the Pecci Centre</em>, 2012. Photo by Bas Princen
Left, Anne Holtrop and Bas Princen, Temporary Museum (Lake) & A Tower , 2011. Photo by Bas Princen. Right, Krijn De Koning, 5 spaces. Work for the Pecci Centre , 2012. Photo by Bas Princen
Triggering Reality presents, through a rich and varied array of means, projects that analyse social and cultural phenomena, that propose slight modifications of the context in which they are placed, that interact with the city and its inhabitants to channel existing energies into processes of participation, re-appropriation and transformation. Curators Sanguigni and Brizzi bring together projects and works that — to return to the title of the exhibition — "trigger" new realities starting with already existing conditions, that choose the route of transformation and reuse, that seek to understand and reactivate space by means of low-cost or temporary interventions, offering the public an interesting picture of the current state of contemporary architecture, giving food for thought with regards to the European and Italian condition.
Onix, <em>Naturing Architecture</em>, 2012. Photo by Ivan-D'Alì
Onix, Naturing Architecture , 2012. Photo by Ivan-D'Alì
A catalogue published by The Architecture Observer completes the exhibition, including an introductory essay by the curators, a contribution from publisher Hans Ibelings on social design, and information on the artists and architects, including the works displayed in the exhibition alongside previous works. The pocket-sized format and extensiveness of the information gives visitors the opportunity to look further into exhibition theme directly during the visit. Eugenio Pandolfini
NIO architects, <em>Walk with me</em>, 2012. Photo by Ivan-D'Alì
NIO architects, Walk with me , 2012. Photo by Ivan-D'Alì
Through 10 March 2013
Triggering Reality. New conditions for art and architecture in the Netherlands
Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci Prato, Florence
Nicoline van Harskamp, <em>Any other Business</em>, Amsterdam, 2009-11. Courtesy of D+T Project Brussels. Photo by Willem Sluyterman van Loo
Nicoline van Harskamp, Any other Business , Amsterdam, 2009-11. Courtesy of D+T Project Brussels. Photo by Willem Sluyterman van Loo

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