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robertogreco : pranks   8

The Architect Who Became a Diamond - The New Yorker
"Barragán was a devout Catholic, and his work is characterized by a mixture of opulence and abnegation. “Where do you find more eroticism than in the cloister of a convent?” he once asked. His buildings are mostly residential, with anonymous perimeter walls that protect modestly sized but lavish interiors. Louis Kahn recalled that, in the sixties, he asked Barragán to help him design the courtyard garden at the Salk Institute and flew him out to San Diego to see the site. Barragán took one look at the expanse of concrete and said, “You are going to hate me, but there should be no tree here,” and went home, forsaking a commission from one of his most famous living colleagues.

Tall, blue-eyed, and bald from a young age, Barragán lived beautifully and tyrannically. He wore English sports jackets, silk shirts, and knitted ties; he had a Cadillac and employed a chauffeur. He enjoyed melon halves drizzled with sherry, and was known to have his maid prepare entirely pink meals. An architect friend recalled being disinvited to tea on several occasions because the light in the garden wasn’t right.

“You have no idea how much I hate small things, ugly things,” Barragán told the journalist Elena Poniatowska. “Yet the fragility of some women moves me.” Though he never married (and is thought by some to have been gay), his taste in women was particular: willowy, dark, with, as Poniatowska put it, “the big, hollow eyes of someone who has suffered.” Women recounted trying to lose weight in the weeks before visiting him. Barragán was generous with gifts, bringing small tokens of appreciation—silver boxes, flowers, packages of dates—even to casual lunches. He spoke gently and smiled often. He liked to read Proust, listen to classical music, and fantasize about the Russian gentry. Famously private, he despised his contemporaries’ infatuation with “uninhabitable” glass houses and thought that shadows were “a basic human need.” His work, likewise, was hidden: the residences were often within gated communities, the fountains protected by private courtyards. If there is a recurring criticism of Barragán, it is that he was undemocratic. He spent Sundays at an equestrian club, and when someone accused him of “only designing homes for rich people,” he allegedly replied, “And horses.”

I met Andrés Casillas, an architect now in his eighties who was a protégé of Barragán’s, at his home, an hour and a half from Mexico City. He had perfectly coiffed white hair and wore a fine cashmere sweater. His home had an austere, siesta-like feel that was unmistakably Barragánesque. He spoke slowly and with exaggerated gallantry. “This is stupid to say, but Barragán was a gentleman,” he told me. Casillas talked about meeting Barragán for the first time. He was eight years old, and had wandered around the “magical” garden of Barragán’s house for half an hour, after which Barragán presented him with a small glass of rompope, an eggnog-like liquor prepared by nuns. “I left absolutely mesmerized,” he said.

The hypnosis was by design. Barragán believed that architects should make “houses into gardens, and gardens into houses.” He made blueprints premised on surprise and an almost perverse protraction of pleasure. Low, dark corridors open into blindingly bright rooms with church-high ceilings. Floor plans only gradually make themselves evident to the visitor. He called it “architectural striptease.”

Walking through Barragán’s home, which was declared a unesco World Heritage site in 2004, one feels a sense of coercion, and Barragán himself never completely disappears. Keith Eggener, an architectural historian who made a pilgrimage to Barragán’s house soon after he died, recalled his impressions with the hesitant laughter of someone who’s embarrassed to tell the truth. “Even when it was run-down, it was a ravishing house,” he said. “I remember having this feeling of really wanting to spend the night there—not just to sleep in the house but to sleep with the house.”"

"In 2002, as an artist in residence at the Rijksakademie, in Amsterdam, Magid began noticing the large number of surveillance cameras in the city—anonymous gray boxes, mounted on everything from the corners of buildings to coffee-shop awnings. One February morning, she went to the police headquarters and explained that she was an artist interested in decorating the municipal cameras with rhinestones. She was directed to the appropriate police administrators, who told her that they did not work with artists. She thanked them and left. A few weeks later, Magid returned, armed with business cards and a corporate-speak sales pitch, presenting herself as the Head Security Ornamentation Professional at System Azure, a company that she had made up. The police not only allowed her to bedazzle the cameras but even paid her a couple of thousand dollars. “I realized that they could not hear me when I spoke as an artist,” Magid later said. “This had nothing to do with what I proposed but with who I was.”

The impish venture touched on a theme that Magid has returned to again and again, in increasingly ambitious ways. Her aim with most of her work is to humanize institutional power structures, subtly undermining them while adhering to the letter of their regulations: exploiting legal escape clauses and other red tape, and forging relationships with civil servants. She has ensconced herself in the Dutch secret service and been trained by a New York City cop. She once got members of a surveillance team from Liverpool’s police force to direct her through a public square with her eyes closed. In 2008, she told me, a Dutch government official warned her that she was considered a national-security threat. Though she cares deeply about how her work looks, she has less in common with other artists than with people whose jobs are not typically thought of as artistic: spies, investigative journalists, forensic experts.

Magid’s work can seem like a series of extended pranks, but when I suggested this to her she was aghast. “No!” she exclaimed. She laughed but seemed genuinely distressed. “I hate mean-spirited work,” she said. “It’s about the engagement. A prank doesn’t engage. A prank is: you throw something in and watch what happens. This is a commitment.” Still, people often ask Magid why anyone ever agrees to collaborate with her. She has said that she thinks it is “due to some combination of vanity, pride, and loneliness.”"

"Magid heard about the archive by coincidence: her gallery in Mexico City, Labor, is across the street from Casa Barragán. “It intrigued me as a gothic love story,” she has said, “with a copyright-and-intellectual-property-rights subplot.” In early 2013, Magid contacted Zanco through an intermediary, to introduce herself as an artist working on a project about Barragán, and asked if she might visit the archive. Zanco replied that she was “completely unable to allow access to the collection, nor be of any help to third parties.” A few months later, Magid sent a handwritten request, explaining that she had an upcoming show on Barragán in New York. She invited Zanco to curate pieces from her archive for inclusion. She signed off, “With Warmth and Admiration.” Zanco declined to collaborate, and warned, “I trust you would make yourself aware of the possible copyright implications of any sort of reproduction, and clear the related permissions, procedure and mandatory credits.”

That November, in Tribeca, Magid produced an exhibition about the impasse, “Woman with Sombrero,” which later travelled to Guadalajara. The show was a multimedia installation, with images of Barragán’s work, slide projections, and an iPad displaying the correspondence between Magid and Zanco. Objects were placed in teasing juxtaposition, in a way that suggested connections and narratives without insisting on them. Copies of books that Barragán had sent to various women lay on a bedside table that Magid had fabricated based on one of his designs. In what a press release described as “flirtation with the institutional structures involved,” Magid went to extreme lengths to stay just the right side of copyright law. Rather than reproduce Barragán images from Zanco’s book, for instance, Magid framed a copy of the book itself. The show was written up in the Times, and the article was not flattering to Zanco. Magid was quoted asking, “What’s the difference between loving something and loving something so much that you smother it?”

After the Times took an interest, Magid and Zanco’s correspondence became friendlier—either because Zanco now appreciated Magid’s work or because she realized that anything she wrote could end up as material in future shows. “Thank you for your company,” Zanco wrote at one point. “I feel definitely less lonely down in the archives.” The tone of their letters became familiar but measured. At no point did Magid mention her plan to make a diamond out of Barragán.

Magid agrees with those who argue that the Barragán archive should be open to the public and returned to Mexico, but she insists that this is not her focus. “If that’s what my intentions were, I don’t think I’d make art,” she told me. “I’ve always called the archive her lover. To marry one man, she negotiated owning another man, whom she’s devoted her life to. It’s a weird love triangle, and I’m the other woman.”"

"Magid was disconcerted; she’d expected Zanco to be alone. She followed Zanco in. Fehlbaum was there, seated, his back to a glass wall, and greeted her warmly. Zanco sat down beside him and gestured for Magid to take a seat across from them.

“I brought you this,” Magid said, taking a bottle of champagne from her bag. It was wrapped in an announcement of her St. Gallen show. Zanco removed the paper and thanked her. For the next hour, over lunch, the three of … [more]
2016  jillmagid  luisbarragán  architecture  art  archives  performanceart  laurapoitras  film  bureaucracy  institutions  casaluisbarragán  barraganfoundation  federicazanco  switzerland  guadalajar  mexico  mexicocity  mexicof  df  sfai  sanfrancisco  death  copyright  elenaponiatowska  pranks  engagement  performance  loneliness  journalism  alicegregory  mexicodf 
december 2016 by robertogreco
In the Valley with Jeffrey Vallance (East of Borneo)
"DW: There does seem to be an attitude among Valley artists—I am thinking here of artists like of Scott Grieger, John Divola, Mike Mandel—that is a type of serious unseriousness or rather, serious art that doesn’t necessarily take itself so seriously.

JV: Yes, but my work gets misread as simply “funny” or “comical.” A lot people can't see past the humor, so it stops them. That’s in there, don’t get me wrong, but it’s only the surface. Once you get past the comedy, my art is really twisted; it’s about getting away with murder, about infiltrating systems. It’s about perversion. It’s like perverting everything around you in a seemingly harmless way.

My theory—and maybe this is a Valley theory, too—is that everything in life has something strange about it. There is something odd, even comical, in the events of our lives, even in its horrors. Like funerals: Funerals are very serious, but you’ve heard over and over again that for some people they have to stifle laughter because it is so serious that they can’t stand it. It becomes comical even though it shouldn’t be. So I really pick up on this idea that every reality has multiple layers—life has a comical part, it has a serious part, it has a sad part, it has a depressing part, and it has all of those parts at once. I feel like art should encompass this complexity. I want to make art that has all those layers, comedy and seriousness and death and everything else. The comical element sometimes stops art world folk in their tracks, and they can’t get beyond it. But for me, that’s not how life is. Life is continually all of those elements, all of the time, all at once."
jeffreyvallance  2013  art  losangeles  sanfernandovalley  pranks  performance 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Don't worry, California drivers: you won't have to outrun drone strikes on the highway | The Verge
"Despite official-looking warnings, California highway motorists won't have their speed regulated by armed drones. San Francisco's local CBS affiliate KPIX 5 reports that several fake signs have appeared on Bay Area highways, depicting a drone firing a missile along with a "speed enforced by drones" warning. The California Highway Patrol, which has been removing the signs, tells KPIX 5 that it does not, in fact, use drones to hunt down lead-footed drivers. "At CHP we definitely do not have drones," the highway patrol tells KPIX 5. "Along with not having drones we definitely do not have any drones that would fire any type of weaponry."

The CHP tells KPIX 5 that the signs look like the real deal, with professional materials that are "just like the signs that we use on the side of the road for speed limits, and everything else." One of the signs was even reportedly mounted with "tamper-resistant bolts."

It's not clear yet who's behind the prank, but it's not the first time fake drone signs have popped up in the US; in 2011, street artist Essam Attia plastered fake Big Brother-style advertisements throughout Manhattan that depicted NYPD drones launching strikes on fleeing citizens. The NYPD didn't take the situation lightly, and arrested Attia — who now faces 56 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument and grand larceny possession of stolen property."
drones  droneproject  california  2013  pranks  signs 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Tokyo Tanuki: Learning from Mythical and Real Urban Animals | This Big City
"Investigating urban animals offers unexpected insights for remaking city life so that it is more adaptable and responsive to interaction and sharing. Like buildings and people, animals also have a history in the city, with dimensions that include layers, time, and context. Animal architecture helps us look past materials and structures, and turn our focus to cohabitable microspaces, pleasures, pranks, and cross-species relationships."
fruit  architecture  landscape  structures  malleablestructures  habitat  japanese  myth  relationships  cross-speciesrelationships  pranks  habitation  microspaces  context  time  layers  animals  urbanism  urban  japan  jessmantel  jaredbraiterman  chrisberthelsen  tanuki  multispecies 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Billboard Liberation Front's talk at Vooruit, Ghent - we make money not art
"Some of the key rules of their billboard improvement actions: - Make alterations that will make people smile not something that will make them angry, - Less is more. The best improvements are those that require only to alter a single letter to change the
advertising  art  propaganda  pranks  graffiti  streetart  activism  wmmna  culture 
march 2008 by robertogreco
Steve Wozniak on Apple, Steve Jobs and the Value of a Good Prank - Knowledge@Wharton
"A lot of my old pranks and jokes are forbidden in today's schools. The schools underwent this big [change where] the kids cannot do [anything] random, outside-the-rules, outside-the-pages-in-the-book. They can't be that individualistic."
stevewozniak  creativity  innovation  pranks  schools  culture  society  children  humor  fun 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Bureau of Workplace Interruptions
"Our promise is to create interruptions that challenge the needs of our users and the social and economic conditions of the modern workplace."
humor  activism  attention  society  work  parody  office  distraction  interruptions  pranks  productivity 
october 2007 by robertogreco
PPP [Pink Prank Project]
"Our friend Jacob who is a bit artsy went to New York for a week. We got hold of his keys and turned his messy flat into an art installation."
art  color  fun  furniture  humor  interiors  sweden  pranks 
may 2007 by robertogreco

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