The upcoming lecture traces the artistic ways of looking at the urban environment and architecture, which transcend our own perception of the past and the present, and the anticipation of the future.
Atelier Van Lieshout is a Rotterdam based studio, founded by Joep van Lieshout in 1995, at the climax of “relational aesthetics” and participatory art. Both a parody on and an analogue of a commercial firm, the Atelier produces art and design objects—furniture, sculpture, installations—as well as public and private commissions. Headed by van Lieshout, the studio consists of around twenty people who collectively conceive and materialize politically challenging projects which combine functionalism with artistic thinking, and may look equally utopian and dystopian. Some of AVL’s commissions include mobile farms and medical clinics; modular architectural design for public and commercial spaces (museums, hotels, parks); pavilions for socializing, rest and sensory deprivation; art pieces and design objects. Arguably their most compelling project to date has been AVL-Ville (2001)—a communal state with its own constitution, flag and currency based in the Rotterdam harbor, that operated independently from official institutions and power supplies for a year.
French artist Nicolas Moulin (b. 1970) began taking photographs of architectural and urban landscapes in the late 1980s and early 1990s, coinciding with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Traveling extensively across Eastern Europe, Moulin became interested in the periphery of big cities, as well as the ruined or abandoned buildings and entire districts. Using montage to mix documentary material with fiction, he started creating mockumentary photo collages, ambiguous in their simultaneously realistic and utopian representation, further increased by somber titles. In the Vider Paris series (2008), Moulin ‘replaced’ the first-floor facades of Parisian buildings with a monolith concrete band, while also removing any traces of human presence in the streets—pedestrians, cars, road signs and advertising. Following his brief stay in North Korea, he edited the material he shot in Pyongyang with images of fictional architecture. The resulting works (Nachdatch, 2007, Datchotel Ryugyong, 2007) visually refer to the aesthetics of sci-fi cinema and retrofuturism. Nicolas Moulin lives and works in Berlin.