On Sunday August 23, 2015, we opened the doors to the Flagship Store to host the Art Talk : “Do Art and Architecture Need to Entertain?” It was one of two of selected talks to take place outside of Kunsthal Charlottenborg made in collaboration with the CHART Art Fair.
– Bjarke Ingels, Architect & Founder, BIG, New York & Copenhagen
– Bjørnstjerne Reuter Christiansen, Superflex, Artist Collective, Denmark
– Moderator: Mark Rappolt, Editor-in-Chief, ArtReview
Jamiee Ma Williams, Architect & Artistic Programming Manager at CHART Art Fair, welcomes to the talk.
From left: Marc Rappolt, Bjørnstjerne Reuter Christiansen and Bjarke Ingels.
The talk took its place of departure in the project Superkilen, co-made by BIG and Superflex. Superkilen is an urban park project in Copenhagen divided into three main areas: The Red Square, The Black Market and The Green Park. While The Red Square designates the modern, urban life with café, music and sports, The Black Market is the classic square with a fountain and benches. The Green Park is a park for picnics, sports and walking the dog.
The people living in the immediate vicinity of the park relate to more than 50 different nationalities. Instead of using the designated city objects/furnitures used for parks and public spaces, people from the area was asked to nominate specific city objects such as benches, bins, trees, playgrounds, manhole covers and signage from other countries.
Rows of Form chairs ready for the guests and the talk.
Recap of the art and architecture talk
We decided to capture a few of the interesting points and share them with you. So here is a recap of the morning talk on a sunny day in wonderful Copenhagen.
Marc Rappolt, Editor-in-Chief, ArtReview was the moderator and led us gallantly through the discussion.
Marc Rappolt (MR): Is the artist responsible for making his or her project entertaining?
Bjørnstjerne Reuter Christiansen (BRC): Is Superkilen an entertaining place? We made giant obstacles and striped pavements. For many it is an ugly place but it encourages playfulness – which brings joy and commitment. It is all about how you persuade someone to engage with your projects. For us the most important thing is to commit to the context. Response to users’ response is a natural part of our artistic process.
Bjarke Ingels (BIG): Projects always involve engagement of the public. A city is an experiment of bringing age, culture, gender and religions together. The trick is to give them the maximum possibility to take full advantage of their individual lives without doing wrong to others. For example with the project `Superkilen` we outsourced the creative part to the public. Instead of being artists, we became curators. In that, we became advocates for the public and tried to keep some of the 120 crazy ideas in the project.
Bjarke Ingels and Bjørnstjerne Reuter Christiansen in a passionate debate.
MR: You talk about users instead of viewers. Can you explain the differences?
BRC: When you engage with somebody, they become users. When they just look, they are passive viewers. When we make tools (editorial: Bjørnstjerne refers to art as tools) they may be open for people to copy and modify. We do not need to protect our ideas. We like it when the public engage.
BIG: At BIG we created the conceptual design for the second twin tower in New York City. We stayed away from everything related to 9/11 as we though the new buildings are for the living people. A man who lost his brother during 9/11 wrote to me and said; “I like your design very much. It looks like a staircase to heaven for the innocent souls”. We did not think about it like that but now I can´t think another way. The design becomes the users’ thoughts and they are just as valued as your own. No matter what we had to create ownership at Superkilen in Nørrebro. When you create architecture and public art, we can make all the thoughts we want but when it is out there, it belongs to everyone to use it and analyze it.
MR: So is the process or the final outcome most important?
BRC: The process is important because someone invites you in to act in his or her space. With Superkilen we did a lot of research for functions. We had to find a way to make a strict design and we made some rules like using only three colors. We wanted to challenge the way the city works by using the 50 different nationalities. We spent a lot of time engaging with the public.
BIG: Often people showing up for hearings are head of the housing associations. But they are not the ones to use it. It is our job to reach beyond the typical voices. Some argued that red is the color of death and blood but we believe it is also the color of Christmas and joy. We needed to keep the weird objects; otherwise, it would just be grey benches all over. So the curation process became important with Superkilen.
For almost 10 years, the beautiful room has functioned as both retail space and office for design brand Normann Copenhagen. The talk was located up on the big stage, underlining the previous function of the room as cinema.
MR: How much is Superkilen about experiment with normality?
BRC: By setting rules, you also set limitations. We love playfulness and to play with the norm.
BIG: The main drivers of evolution change is emigrations. As soon you take one thing from one place and put it into another environment, it will change the thing and the environment.
MR: Is it easier when you come from outside when you need to change a society?
BRC: I don’t know if it is easier. We always try to understand the context we are in. For example before we made Superkilen, people were not outside at the square in the evenings. When the square was completed, everyone was outside. We changed the use of the space. We could only do that because we were outsiders.
BIG: You need to fall in love with the subject or place so everything you do, you do it for the people living there. It is what´s called information driven design. You try to establish the key criteria so every single choice you make is driven from the context – maybe it is easier for an outsider to observe and do this analysis, as a local might not even see it.
Sticks N´Sushi served their delicious breakfast menu: Sticks N´Sunshine.
Time to relax.
4 questions for Bjarke Ingels
Normann Copenhagen´s PR & Communication Manager, Johanne Toft, sat down with Bjarke Ingels for a quick chat.
After the talk, we got the chance to ask star architect Bjarke Ingels a few questions about his view on art, design, and architecture, and how the fields can reinforce each other. Here´s what he said:
How would you define the difference between art, architecture and design?
“Both design and architecture hold the aspect of being functional to be great; it kind of lies in the definition of the two fields. This must be the biggest difference. Art does not have to be functional.“
Why is art inspiring?
“Art that expands my perception of the world is what interests me. It can be everything from a piece of music that opens my ears and lets me distinguish between noise and music. Or a painting, which draws my attention to the excitement and beauty in something that I would normally just see as a plain background. The cool thing about it is that it changes one’s perception. Once you have experienced great artwork, you will never look at the world without seeing the beauty it gave you. Your world becomes bigger and richer by experiencing that specific art piece.“
How can art, design and architecture accentuate each other?
“I sometimes work with artists in my projects as they bring another approach. In 2010, we made the Danish pavilion at World Expo in Shanghai where we brought the Little Mermaid to China. Artist Jeppe Hein did a 150-meter bench that was an art piece in itself with functions; besides functioning as a bench where people could sit and relax it was also a bar. Furthermore, the bench divided the area between walking and biking. It was not a kind of art piece you hang on the wall but instead an integrated part of the exhibition that underlined the spiral architecture. It made people interact with the architecture. As exceptional concept thinkers, I also sometimes invite Superflex to critique our students. They see the world in another way. “
What kind of art do you pick for your own decor?
“Personal art. I like art that matters. The art I have at home are art pieces where I have a close personal relationship with the artist such as Jeppe Hein and Superflex. I think the personal trace is essential, either by the experience that the artwork gives you or through a personal acquaintance of the artist. “
Normann Copenhagen supports the Chart Art Fair, which took place from August 21-23, 2015. Read more about the collaboration with Chart Art Fair 2015 here.