The Legacy of Architectonic Futurism
On the occasion of the 16th Venice Biennial of Architecture BANK presents 'The Legacy of Architectonic Futurism' - a group show in honor of the visionary and fantastical spirit of Lebbeus Woods (1940-2012). Woods was an artist, theorist, educator, and architect of the highest level whose politically charged and provocative illustrations were designs of systems in crisis: the order of the existing being confronted by the order of the new. For Woods “Architecture is war. War is architecture. I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms.” Drawing parallels between society’s physical and psychological constructions, Woods generated a career-long narrative of how these structures transform our consciousness. Working mostly with pencil on paper, Woods’ oeuvre of complex worlds—at times abstract and at times explicit—present shifts, cycles, and repetitions within the built environment that reflect contemporary political, social and ideological conditions. While Woods only realized a few projects in his lifetime ('The Light Pavilion' in Chengdu being the most famous) his designs continue to resonate across many disciplines. They have been directly incorporated into the films '12 Monkeys' and 'Aliens III' (shown here in this exhibition) and are credited for inspiring the video game 'Half Life 2'. This exhibition showcases Woods’ unconventional productions together with artists and architects from around the world whose works honor Wood’s maverick spirit. Some Woods’ works presented here were competition submissions or proposals for actual urban spaces while others were prophetic inventions of his active imagination.
Architectural fantasies are particularly applicable to China, a country whose rapid urbanization is historically unprecedented. Since the beginning of economic reform China has seen the birth of over 500 cities with a projected 75% of the total population living in supercities by 2030. The Yangtze River Delta is one of the most urbanized places on the planet with Shanghai, a city that 25 million call home, lying at its heart. Shanghai is a megalopolis in which the future of the city is continually being tested and realized. In this exhibition Michael Najjar’s mural size photograph depicts Shanghai as an incredible web of dynamism and density. Shanghai’s homegrown architects Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu (Neri&Hu Design and Research Office) showcase their progressive designs along with Li Hu and Huang Wenjing of OPEN Architecture, another firm that is active in shaping China’s urban future. Artists like Nabuqi, You Jin and Maik Wolf, under the influence of surrealism, present more metaphorical or phantasmagorical approaches to architectural space. Jacolby Satterwhite, Pierre Jean Giloux, and AUJIX create virtual spaces with digital imaging tools that envision the city as a psychological labyrinth with socio-political boundaries. Lore Vanelslande, an artist whose work deals with sacred geometry creates drawings that conflate the spiritual and architectonic.