Home Museum architecture An artist rethinks the impact of museum architecture

An artist rethinks the impact of museum architecture


Accessory 6, one of the works that artist Lauren Henkin has installed at the Cincinnati Arts Center in a new exhibition called Accessories. Courtesy of Jeremy Kramer Photography

Courtesy of Jeremy Kramer Photography

The unveiling of Cincinnati Arts CenterThe building designed by Zaha Hadid in 2003 broke new ground on several fronts: it was the first museum project led by a woman architect in the United States, and Hadid’s first project in the United States. The build also marked an American iteration of the “Bilbao Effect,” drawing attention to a small Midwestern town through a party of upscale art and architecture. The $ 27.5 million tour de force transported Hadid to full capacity: it was a masterful orchestration of the mundane and the sublime within a body that was both welcoming and overwhelming, with 16,000 square feet of space. dedicated to exhibits in downtown Cincinnati.

The characteristic features of the deceased starch maker – eye-catching facades and rapid marriages of sharp, smooth walls – prevail throughout the building; However, Hadid’s most obvious gesture at the Cincinnati Art Center is spreading outdoors, in a way she has called “urban carpet.” By letting the lobby’s voluptuously curved interior wall extend to the sidewalk, Hadid aimed to bridge the gap between art inside and life outside, connecting the audience to a meeting that, in other museums, can be intimidating and uninviting. When the artist Lauren Henkin learned that three concrete markers on Hadid’s curved ‘urban mat’ were meant to keep skateboarders at bay, she also took note of a single pole placed inside, on the other side of the window of the museum, apparently aimless. His curiosity led him to Accessory 2, one of eight sculptural interventions the Maine artist installed on Hadid’s architectural work this month. The artist added seven other similar concrete shapes alongside the insulated stool inside to “complete an idea that turns into its final stage”.

Accessory 2

Lauren Henkin, Accessory 2 Courtesy of Jeremy Kramer Photography

Courtesy of Jeremy Kramer Photography

These pieces, which Henkin commissioned from local manufacturing studios, are all part of his latest exhibit, which opened on November 22 and will run through March at the museum. Title Accessories, the exhibit deploys industrial materials commonly used in construction, such as concrete, steel, and PVC, and activates areas of the museum that were previously dormant, unusable for the art exhibit. “During my studies, the emphasis was on conceptual ideas, around sculptural architecture, rather than concerns about the location of bathrooms,” says the artist. Metropolis. In Cincinnati, Hadid’s mix of exhibits and operational sites in the museum prompted Henkin, who studied architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, to reflect on how art and architecture can challenge and complement each other, while the public, as art spectator, navigate between these two ubiquitous visual forces.

“The project challenges the idea of ​​where to expect to find art in a museum, while also incorporating the museum itself,” says the artist, who intentionally placed the art in spaces used for traffic, public engagement and even washrooms. Henkin’s interventions both embellish and criticize the various architectural forms of the building, which the artist describes as “breaking the formality of the building”. Hadid’s presence is arguably more evident in the long black steel staircase that guides visitors to the exhibition floors, and the artist’s gesture on Hadid is here Accessory 5, a dramatic arrangement of wooden beams and slabs that appear to be on the verge of collapsing, contrasting with the rigid and secure formation of their surroundings. Accessory 6 is a jumble of double-sided Henkin mirrors placed on a slanted central ceiling, visible only from two stair landings. The reflective quality of the mirrors creates opportunities for viewers to communicate with both the space and the artwork – “with and against the concept of Hadid,” according to the artist.

Accessory 8

Lauren Henkin, Accessory 8 Courtesy of Jeremy Kramer Photography

Courtesy of Jeremy Kramer Photography

When it came to placing work in the bathrooms, Henkin – a female artist – had thought she would limit herself to the female restroom. When the curator of the exhibition Steven Matijcio offered her the opportunity to take an interest in men, she decided to insert an organic and “feminine” honeycomb sculpture in aluminum and polyacrylic, Prop 8, to subvert the austere and clinical atmosphere of the room. Inside the women’s room, a grid of PVC pipes, Accessory 4, hangs from a blank white wall that echoes both a pristine gallery corner and a construction in progress, merging industrial minimalism with elegant exhibition design.

In a building that Hadid has described as “the labyrinthine intricacy of spatial composition,” Henkin attempts to celebrate and shake up the intricacies of structure through the weight of sculpture and the subtlety of art. And in doing so, she engages her audience in an act of architectural interaction: “Activating these spaces beyond their intentions has given me the opportunity,” she says, “to challenge myself as an artist. trained in architecture in a museum of incredibly convincing architecture. “

You can also enjoy “Appalachian Craftsmen Tell Their Own Story in New Exhibit.

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