a tale of a few cities

Michael Rakowitz, Climate Control, 2000 – 2001

Michael Rakowitz

Climate Control
2000 – 2001
Galvanized steel ductwork, fans, timers
P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY
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Most museums and exhibition spaces have a central climate control system for maintaining the standard temperature and relative humidity (r.h.) necessary to preserve art works on exhibit. P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center lacks such a mechanism and, during the winter, turns its radiators up to 90˚F, ignoring the institutional standard of 68˚ – 72˚F. The dry heat of the radiators engenders a relative humidity reading of approximately 11%, potentially damaging to objects like paintings or prints, which require stabilized environments of between 40% – 50% r.h.
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In order to lower the temperature of the Special Projects room to which it is confined, Climate Control, an apparatus consisting of ductwork and fans, incorporates the existing radiator system on the interior of the building with the cold winter temperature outside. The resulting maze of ductwork features a central absurd element: the continuous duct which travels outside the windows and then directly back in, visible from the street. An internal humidifier feeds off moisture in the air and maintains a relative humidity of 20%, in keeping with the standard for exhibiting artworks made from galvanized steel. While the system is adjustable and can maintain a stabilized environment for the display of even delicate works on paper, there is no space to exhibit other art: Climate Control completely engulfs the room. The result is an absurd machine built to maintain itself. – Michael Rakowitz
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I first heard of Chicago-based artist Michael Rakowitz through his collaborative project “Spoils,” a culinary/art experience utilizing plates found in Saddam Hussein’s fallen palaces and held at Park Avenue Autumn this past October. After doing a few searches, I discovered his 2001 Climate Control installation at P.S.1 and was really taken by the Rakowitz’s clever use of space.
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I wouldn’t be surprised if Rakowitz’s Climate Control spurred the installation of a climate control system at P.S.1, albeit slowly.
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Christo, Over the River

Christo, moments after I asked whether anybody had ever called him the first wrap artist. Tate Britain, 14.09.2011

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Christo, Over the River (Project for Arkansas River, State of Colorado), Drawing 2010 in two parts, 15 x 96″ and 42 x 96″ (38 x 244 cm and 106.6 x 244 cm), Pencil, pastel, charcoal, wax crayon, enamel paint, wash, fabric sample, hand-drawn topographic map and technical data (Photo: André Grossmann) © 2010 Christo

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Federal regulators on Monday approved a $50 million installation of anchored fabric over the Arkansas River in southern Colorado by the artist Christo, whose larger-than-life vision has divided environmentalists, residents and politicians for years over questions of aesthetics, nature and economic impact.

The project, “Over the River,” will include eight suspended panel segments totaling 5.9 miles along a 42-mile stretch of the river, about three hours southwest of Denver. Construction could begin next year, pending final local approvals, with the goal being a two-week display of the work as early as August 2014.

Christo’s projects — from the wrapping of the Reichstag Parliament building in Berlin in 1995 to “The Gates,” a meandering path of orange awnings through Central Park in New York in 2005 — have often generated heated debate in advance of their creation.

“We are elated,” Christo said. “Every artist in the world likes his or her work to make people think. Imagine how many people were thinking, how many professionals were thinking and writing in preparing that environmental impact statement.” [NYTimes]

This past September, Christo gave a rare talk in London about two works in progress, Over the River, Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado and The Mastaba, Project for the United Arab Emirates. He talked about the concepts behind these two artworks, and the significant process of production and realisation when working on large-scale environmental artworks. I was lucky enough to be sitting in the 2nd row center, it just so happened that he sat directly in front of me narrating while slides of his projects were projected on stage. He spoke much about the Over the River project but I was most intrigued by The Mastaba project (a monumental artwork, set in the Abu Dhabi desert, to be made of approximately 410,000 horizontally stacked oil barrels). I had always thought The Mastaba had been abandoned so was delighted to hear that it is an artwork still in preparatory stages.

During question time I asked how one might volunteer to work on one of his projects (48:55). He immediately pointed out that everybody working on his projects is paid since you could not fire volunteers. Jeanne-Claude (his now deceased wife), made sure that laboring help was paid 25% above minimum wage. I was amazed at Christo’s energy and level of enthusiasm, being that he is 76 years old.

Artist’s Talk: Christo, Tate Britain, Wednesday 14 September 2011
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Kristin Posehn, A Bridge Between Two Rooms

Posted in architecture, Art, artists, engineering, London, Photography, Sculpture by petercombe on June 28, 2011

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Kristin Posehn, A Bridge Between Two Rooms, 2005 – 2010

top installation view (Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht NL)
left stop and search citation received under the UK Terrorism Act 2000
right single photograph of a block of windows

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Between 2005 and 2008 Kristin Posehn photographed every window of the the skyscraper at 30 St Mary’s Axe, London, otherwise known as the Gherkin, from street level. The digital photographs were later reworked, their perspective and dimensions corrected and printed out separately. These diamond-shaped photographs were then attached to their neighbors using 1420 translucent photo-clips and a bike wheel, forming a completely hollow self-supporting shell. The shell structure was hung from floor to ceiling in a standard suburban-type bedroom, lit from within as a lampshade.  

It must be noted that while photographing the building Posehn was given a stop and search citation (received under the UK Terrorism Act 2000).

The sheer feat of engineering coupled with Posehn’s mathematical knowhow really is something to behold. Posehn’s preciseness and attention to detail far surpasses the imaginable. I really would have loved to have seen this work in person. 

A Bridge Between Two Rooms >

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