Fashion fans who may think the 15th International Architecture Exhibition doesn't have in store anything interesting for them, should maybe consider visiting it all the same. As seen in recent previous posts there are indeed a few lessons to be learnt at the current Venice Architecture Biennale about recycling materials and being inventive in times of scarcity that should inspire all of us.
But if you're a fashion fan desperately looking for designs and textiles at the Venice Architecture Biennale, head to the Arsenale and look for Peter Zumthor's installation showing a new building for the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Construction for this building should begin in late 2018 or early 2019, and the new structure is set to be finished by 2023.
Zumthor's proposal has actually attracted criticism since making room for it will require the museum to demolish its original campus of buildings (opened in 1965) by the Los Angeles architect William Pereira, besides Zumthor's plan has evolved with the years going from a fluid form to a harder edged shape.
The installation at the Arsenale is accompanied by site plans and architectural drawings, and surrounded by a textile artwork by designer Christina Kim made up of sheets of fabric in a range of colors - yellow, indigo, and tyrian purple - hanging on hooks in two curving rows (imagine entering a dry cleaner with clothes neatly stored in their bags or the wardrobe of an obsessive fashion fan and you get the idea).
The rest of the space is occupied by a bamboo garden; Walter De Maria's 1968 "Ocean Music" provides the musical background.
Kim's textile pieces have a specific meaning: rather than moving artworks from the LACMA collection to Venice (a difficult and expensive solution), Los Angeles County Museum of Art CEO Michael Govan and Zumthor decided to employ Kim's colourful clothes to represent the paintings at the museum and their relationship with the dark-gray concrete of the building and the desert garden beneath the museum.
Despite the installation isn't too immediate and the notes don't really offer a proper insight into the building and the concept of variety (of languages, shapes, forms, and geometries) in Zumthor's work or his fight against the homogenisation of our built environment, Kim's textiles create an interesting colourful contrast with the Arsenale crumbling walls and the rest of the installation.
Besides, Kim's works and creations seem to go well with the main principles of Aravena's Biennale.
Born in South Korea, Kim is a fashion designer maker, entrepreneur, artist, and social activist based in Los Angeles, California.
Kim studied painting and art history in Seattle, lived in Italy and designed textiles at a men's wear brand. She then returned to the US, where she worked in New York for an Italian brand before relocating to Los Angeles where she founded the design house Dosa, based on ethical principles.
Throughout her career Kim has worked with traditional craftspeople and textile makers scattered all over the world, from Bosnia to Cambodia, China, India, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, and Peru.
Kim does not hold or participate in fashion shows, designs a new collection only once a year, and considers herself an artist (she has shown her projects all over the world and a while back she created a stunning 300 square metre movie screen curtain at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate made with recycled movie posters and did installation exhibitions in Oaxaca, Mexico, and Bologna, Italy).
A passionate fan of handicrafting and textiles such as khadi, a hand-woven Indian cloth, Kim hopes to help keeping indigenous crafts alive through her work (most of the colourful textiles employed for this installation are clearly handmade in countries such as India).
This is not the first time Kim works on an architectural project: for Wear LACMA (a collaboration between the museum and Los Angeles–based designers to create limited-edition pieces inspired by LACMA's permanent collection), Dosa created a 10-piece collection revolving around the paintings Watts Towers I and Watts Towers with Kite by actress and artist Gloria Stuart.
The Watts Towers - 17 interconnected towers constructed entirely by hand without a predetermined design - were made by Simon Rodia, a tile worker and self-made artist, who set out to build this monument using broken bottles and ceramics.
Rodia didn't have any money to make the towers, but used simple tools and discarded objects such as tile shards, broken pottery, sea shells, glass bottles, soda cans, coat hangers and fragments of concrete. Kim has always been fascinated by Rodia's work (that also seems to go well with Aravena's rationale for this year's Biennale), by his skills and handcrafted techniques.
Zumthor has a special way to deal with construction, materials and craft and his modus operandi is reflected in Kim's work integrated in this installation. Besides, there is something else that connects the architect and the fashion designer: both have a special relationship with time. Zumthor takes more time to deliver a project than conventional standards and uses time as an antidote to one of the biggest threats for contemporary architects – to copy oneself. The same thing applies to Kim who refuses to operate as most fashion designers do, trapped by time constraints and fast fashion rhythms.
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