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nov. 2013

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GERMANY/ DENMARK/ ICELAND: OLAFUR ELIASSON: LITTLE SUN

SEPTEMBER 19, 2013 BY  LEAVE A COMMENT (EDIT)

Little Sun is a tiny gadget of giant importance with which Eliasson also popped up at the 13th International Architecture Biennale in Venice : a hand-sized solar-powered lantern that is primarily meant to bring light to the 1,6 billion that are still deprived of connection to an electric grid

Max Borka reports. (c) IMAGE Tomas Gislason

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When recently invited by the Tate Modern and the London Olympics to come up with a sequel to Weather Project, the 2003 show that had definitively established Olafur Eliasson’s reputation of being one of the world’s most successful artists by drawing over 2 million visitors during its five-month installation, Eliasson turned up with a project in which the giant sun that stood at the center of Weather Project had been literally fragmented into a myriad copies of Little Sun, a tiny gadget of giant importance with which he also popped up at the 13th International Architecture Biennale in Venice a few days ago: hand-sized solar-powered lanterns that are primarily meant to bring light to the 1,6 billion that are still deprived of connection to an electric grid. Totally in line with the Joseph Beuys motto the Social had become Art, while Art had become Social, bridging the gap between High and Low, basic needs and the sublime, and many other extremes and discrepancies.

With Little Sun Olafur Eliasson has primarily created a light for regions where electricity is not available, reliable, affordable or sustainable. Developed in collaboration with the engineer Frederik Ottesen over a period of two years, its looks speak a universal and simple gadget-language, as if it were a 3D version of a child’s drawing of a sunflower. It fits in the palm of your hand, and is solar-powered, producing light for 5 hours. Extremely easy in use, it also seems to fit all other criteria for this kind of object. But what really makes the tiny object stand out from all similar initiatives of its kind is that it was launched as a major artwork – offering the third world and its issues a platform and attention in well-off cenacles, joyfully shaking, mixing and trespassing quite some other borders that were considered given and self-evident, not in the least those that define what should be good architecture.

FRAGMENTED

Born in Copenhagen and living and working in Berlin, Olafur Eliasson is a Danish sculptor and installation artist of Icelandic descent. He spent his youth in Iceland, and studied at the Academy of Copenhagen. His work mainly focuses on the relationship between technology and natural phenomenon, such as light and water, or movement and reflection. Since 2006 he is a professor at the Universität der Künste in Berlin. Asked about his motivation behind his decision to return to the Tate with a project in which the giant sun of yore had fragmented in innumerable small ones that –if it wasn’t for the fact that they were linked to his name- never would have made it to the status of been artwork, Eliasson replied: ‘Over the years, I have been absorbed by phenomena such as light, time, the negotiation of space, compassion and the relation between body, mind, and action. Little Sun brings these different strands of my work together – this is a very important step for me. By bringing Little Sun to Tate Modern and the London Olympics, I hope to realize an art project for those who typically have no access to global events of this scale.’ In other words: exhibiting the Little Sun was also like offering a platform for the dark side of the moon, that part of the world that was doomed to remain invisible, while it was also an ideal occasion to physically confront the Have’s with the importance of light, and the reality of being a Have Not.

LIGHT GRAFFITI

Next to featuring a documentary space where visitors can learn about solar power, the global energy challenge, light and its importance in and for life, the project in the Tate also includes a special set-up for people to do light graffiti using the Little Sun. It offers the possibility to participate in Tate Blackouts on Saturday nights after ordinary museum hours, during which the lights went off in the former power station and visitors could look at the works of art in the suite of galleries devoted to Tate Modern’s Surrealist collection using only the light of Little Sun. And last but not least there is the premiere of 16 short films on light, life, and Little Sun, by filmmakers from off-grid areas around the world.

Visitors also get the opportunity to buy a lamp for £16.50 (€22) at the Tate, double the amount at which it will be sold in off-grid areas. Distribution in these areas is also meant to facilitate the creation of small businesses to sell the lamp and aims to promote economic growth, by concentrating profits at the point of need, while buying the Little Sun at full price in areas of the world with electricity, helps make it available at a lower price to communities with no or inconsistent electricity – making them the proud possessors of a major artwork for a trifle. Olafur Eliasson: Little Sun. Until September 23 at Tate Modern, London. 13th Architecture Biennale: Common Ground. Through November 25th.www.littlesun.comwww.olafureliasson.net

www.tate.org.ukwww.labiennale.org

Little Sun will be highlighted at the Mapping the Design World Meeting Point at Reciprocity, the Design Biennial for Social Innovation in Liege, Belgium, from October 5 through October 28 2012, and will also feature in the accompanying MAP-Mapping the Design World magazine – focusing on some 100 examples of (Do) Good Design from an equal number of countries.

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BRAZIL / RODRIGO ALMEIDA & MARCELO ROSENBAUM :: SAMESAME BUT DIFFERENT

SEPTEMBER 19, 2013 BY  LEAVE A COMMENT (EDIT)

00 BRAZIL RODRIGO ALMEIDA & MARCELO ROSENBAUM

Brazil : identity is mainly defined by an extraordinary mix of cultures. For as Brazil is imposing itself at rapid speed as a 21st-century superpower, an evolution made possible by recent political and financial stability, economic growth, unprecedented social mobility and the subsequent rise of a lower-middle class – the nation is radically transforming on every imaginable level, turning the question of its roots and identity, and their safeguarding, into a major issue. Rodrigo Almeida and Marcelo Rosenbaum are probably the two local designers who, over the last few years, have succeeded in tackling this matter in the most successful manner, be it that their respective tactics are totally different, and –although equally unorthodox – are in many ways even radically opposed. Part one: Rodrigo Almeida. Max Borka reports.

RODRIGO ALMEIDA:

ALL IN THE MIX

The Brazilian identity as we love to see it is a very exuberant and explosive one, created out of a hodgepodge of ethnicities, a most eclectic and extremely lively and confrontational mix, colorful and happy, despite of the ever-present misery in Brazilian society, or just because of it, haunted by the desire to leave it behind. “Brazil is a real melting pot, and it can be complicated to put all this information together and discover a style, a way of thinking,” says designer Rodrigo Almeida. His talent is as raw and his way of working as unorthodox as the culture he is celebrating. Not hindered by the academics of a design education, and the technique of making CAD drawing and/or manipulating shapes until they’re suitable for industrial production —- he’s a self-made. He did not go to university, not even as an undergrad. The legend even goes that his career as a designer simply began when he picked up a magazine as a young man and thought, “I want to do that”.

MISCEGENATION

Far from aiming at mass or serial production, and not in the slightest bothering to be practical or comfortable, all Almeida’s pieces are one-off’s, unique. Almost exclusively composed of variations on the most emblematic of all design objects, the chair, together with some tables and shelves – his work perfectly succeeds in transferring and communicating this miscegenation or permanent cross-pollination that gave birth to what is worldwide considered to be the quintessence of Brazilian spirit, its carnivalesque and exuberant way of dealing with a multitude of contradictions and conflicts, layering and accumulating, and insatiable.

FREEFORM

“Miscegenation is one of the most important aspects of my work, “ Almeida says, “Everything is hybrid and not obvious”. And: “Blending materials and cultures comes naturally to me, because I’m a mix of indigenous, but also Portuguese, or African”. His totem-like objects consist of a diverse range of materials and upcycled elements that are directly appropriated from every day life, hardware stores, Carnaval supply stores and São Paulo streets: carefully placed layers of paper, fabrics, nylon rope, wicker baskets, belts linoleum, feathers, sequins, and even local foods. He handcrafts and combines them with the simplest of techniques -stacking, layering, accumulating, and assembling- into freeform chairsand tables that are hyper-saturated with color and texture, often incorporating African-influenced patterns, and thus evoking the influence of the African culture in Brazil, or playing on the tension between flexible and inflexible materials, a metaphor for his view of the eclectic culture of his country.

MAGPIE

By not wanting to be all too ‘obvious’, Almeida also means that he prefers a subtle reference and loose association to an all too evident demonstration. In his Africa chair, for instance, he draped strands of rope onto a wooden frame: “It does not look like a traditional African chair, but the rhythm and the design of the object remind us of the African culture influence in Brazil.” The bright, varied colors of the nylon ropes in the same chair, that up till now has become his most famous, evoke the cheap plastic cast-offs that Africans in many countries hack to whatever use is at hand. Composed of disparate materials and textures which magically seem to work together, his magpie designs and patchworks thus breath a feel that is totally apiece with what is probably the main architectural expression of Brazilian culture, favelas, and the DIY way of living he had grown up with when he was a kid, on a farm in the countryside of northern Brazil: “We didn’t have a mall, and so craft was very normal. Because we needed these kinds of products, and making them by hand was cheaper, and sometimes they worked better.”

PURE

Almeida doesn’t characterize himself as a craftsman, though, more as an artisan — something in between design, art, and craft. Thriving on the groundbreaking work of his predecessors, the Campana Brothers, but less willing to compromise, by adopting to the standards of the ruling design industry, he has become the brightest among the new rising stars of a local design scene that, in the wake of the country’s growth, is rapidly globalizing. One maycriticize him because of the fact that his works only results in (expensive) one-offs. But it is exactly this choice that seems to offer him the freedom to express Brazilian identity in its purest form.

http://rodrigoalmeidadesign.com/

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Rodrigo Almeida will be highlighted at the Mapping the Design World Meeting Point at Reciprocity, the Design Biennial for Social Innovation in Liege, Belgium, from October 5 through October 28 2012, and will also feature in the accompanying MAP-Mapping the Design World magazine – focusing on some 100 examples of (Do) Good Design from an equal number of countries.

FILED UNDER: DESIGNFURNITURESOUTH AMERICA 

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CUBA/ ERNESTO OROZA AND THE CUBANS’ TECHNOLOGICAL DISOBEDIENCE

SEPTEMBER 19, 2013 BY  LEAVE A COMMENT (EDIT)

08 ERNESTO OROZA AND THE CUBANS’ TECHNOLOGICAL DISOBEDIENCE

The term Technological Disobedience was recently coined by the Cuban artist and designer Ernesto Oroza to summar

ize and describe the unique way in which his compatriots relate to technology: pressured and constrained by a crisis that is hitting harder and harder, and with no industry in the country, the average Cuban survives by totally disrespecting, surpassi

ng and completely violating the “authority” and often even very complex technology of the objects that are still lingering around, thinking far beyond the capacities and uses these objects were originally meant for by their producer. Partially supported by the authorities, that even produced manuals on the subject, their audacity reaches that far that many even put their own life at risk, as is the case with the Rikimbili or improvised motorcycles. Nevertheless: scarcity has provided them with a creative richness that so-called technologically advanced countries have totally lost. And now that the crisis starts to globalize, it makes the average Cuban also much better prepared for the future – Max Borka reports. All images © Ernesto Oroza:

In the same way in which an experienced surgeon has become insensitive to blood and org

ans, Cuban inventiveness has broken with all limitations, aesthetic, legal, or economic – says Oroza, an industrial designer by training who -after he discovered that there was no work available anyway – made it his mission to travel the island, collecting the objects: “Used to seeing everything from the inside, dismantled, the symbols that make an object into a unique entity – for a Cuban they simply don’t exist.” As is also demonstrated by the books and exhibitions Oroza devoted to the subject, such as Objets Réinventés or Rikimbili: the economy that results is an incredibly imaginative and beautiful one, turning a serving tray into an antenna, and even updating a black and white television by coloring the screen with paint. “The people have become their own producer, constantly reinventing,” says Oroza, “and the liberation that comes with it is first and foremost a moral one”.(mb) w

ww.ernestooroza.com

The Work of Ernesto Oroza will be highlighted at the Mapping the Design World Meeting Point at Reciprocity, the Design Biennial for Social Innovation in Liege, Belgium, from October 5 through October 28 2012, and will also feature in the accompanying MAP-Mapping the Design World magazine – focusing on some 100 examples of (Do) Good Design

from an equal number of countries.

Ernesto Oroza also comes to create a polo on which –much to the principles of Technological Disobedience- he has appropriated a Ernesto Che Guevara quote – Obrero construye tu maquinaria! (Worker, build your own machinery!) – while leaving the Guevara’s last name out. Embroidered with the help of little locals shops that customize uniforms and working gear, the polo’s can be ordered via the following link.

http://textosmoire.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47&Itemid=1#ecwid:category=1619021&mode=product&product=14797372

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