But that's not all! The walls are able to be so dissolvingly black because all the signage and supplementary 2-D materials has been laid on the ground under the corresponding model. You could step on them if you weren't careful. But the thing is, you are careful, because the ground inserts itself constantly into your awareness—through the crushed lava stones covering it. You walk across the room with a glassy crunch-crunch underfoot. It's astonishing how strange this feels in a museum context. To my mind it evokes the natural environment of Bangladesh that is simultaneously Chowdhury's golden muse and his greatest hurdle. This Laufgefühl (sensation of walking) is a marvelous intervention, a way to heighten all the senses together. It definitely deserves more experimentation.
A revelatory multisensory exhibition is on view now at the Aedes Architecture Forum in Berlin. The show FARAWAY SO CLOSE. A Journey to the Architecture of Kashef Chowdhury / URBANA, Bangladesh takes wooden models of the architect Chowdhury's buildings, designed to meet the climatic challenges of Bangladesh, and hangs them from nearly invisible cables. Hovering against the black walls like UFOs highlights the otherworldly nature of the buildings' shapes; it emphasizes the literally out-of-the-box thinking behind the designs. A polygonal snailshell (above right), walls in concentric circles with aligned or offset entrances, or whole islands with central pools engineered to beat the constant floods—these are forms of elevated creativity.
This experience meshed well with the symposium next door on museums in urban space, Extrovert Interior: Publicness and the Contemporary Museum. Asking how the museum mission is being relocated increasingly outside a single building (museum-in-a-box programs for schools, mobile museums on wheels and water, biennials in unexpected venues), the program was a poetic inverse to the exhibition's bringing-gravel-inside idea. All in all a very stimulating day at Aedes, and certainly not the last. I'm already looking forward to their next show, on Archi-Tectonics (Netherlands/New York).
Ideas on Display
A humble space to reflect on concepts of museum display as enacted across a wide range of subjects, countries, and approaches.