Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The Future Pavilion was realized in an abandoned classical cross shaped energy center construction with a central tower originally designed for the Japanese army for washing clothes, men and horses. The cross shaped horizontal axises meet a strong vertical axis in the centre of the building in the focus of which is a deep well for fresh water. The place is situated in Kaoshioung, South-Taiwan.
After the Japanese Army the building had been used by the Taiwanese army but later on was abandoned due to strong rumors of Ghosts. When I first found the building it was due to be demolished. The building itself had been pretty much castrated during the Taiwanese rule: the axises were blocked by walls, the windows were nailed shut with plywood and the whole building was filled with military garbage.
Before inviting the participating artists and architects to the building the axises and the windows were opened again and an additional set of entry openings were knocked into the outer walls of each of the four wings. These openings were later on used to create a circular perimeter leading the visitors around the building from wing to wing. The building was cleaned of trash leaving us with a very respectable piece of architecture filled with memories and archaic qualities of space, material and light. The whole building is designed for a scale of a man + horse. One can ride through the axises. The Future Pavilion was designed by architect Marco Casagrande and the exhibition curated by Casagrande and Nikita Wu in co-operation with architect Roan Chin-Yueh.
PARTICIPANTS AND WORKS (A SELECTION)
Each of the four wings carried one theme to look for future: Urban Nomad, Ocean, Urban Acupuncture and Organic Layer. The central tower was received for a Japanese installation artist Sakura Iso. In the wings the participants were free to use the smaller rooms and the central corridor. The graphic prints were laminated on acrylic and placed into the window openings.
Taiwanese photographer Yeh Wei-Li’s five photo series ”Emperor Go Moves to City” confused the people. The painting of Emperor Go is a standard issue in every Taiwanese garrison and this historical character is also canonized to be a God. The Emperor wanted to win back his lost empire as the Kuomingtang party officially wanted to win back the Mainland China after being kicked out to the island of Taiwan by the communist army in the end of the 40’s. The photographer had found the portrait of Emperor Go amongst the garbage in the Future pavilion before its cleaning and then moved the painting into his city flat in the capital city Taipei and had documented the whole process. Witnessing the great Emperor and God Go in his status of trash and then bunking in the suburbs of Taipei did not charm everybody.
Into the middle of the wing Finland and Taiwan based C-Laboratory architects constructed “The Chamber of the Post Urbanist” – steel furniture for post urban meditation. Heavy metal objects as sofa, table, bed, water reservoir, fire place and toilet. The walls were wall papered by Nikita Wu’s free newspaper for the Future Pavilion, the “Pe Po”.
Estonian architect and painter August Künnapu painted a five meters high wall painting “Lemurian” to the front facade of the wing in which an extra terrestrial looking bold head is saluting the visitors with a frog hand. To the other end of the axis he had painted a big baby cat and a gymnast for 1930’s. Families took photos of themselves with the cat, the gymnast was maybe a bit odd and the Lemurian was obviously a bit scary. Mr. Künnapu has a rear talent of sensing the energies, memories and other subconscious narratives of sites and buildings and the processing these feelings into paintings as mediators between the visitors and the otherwise too hard too articulate real realities of architecture and space. His paintings are never negative but always constructive – he is an architect in the end.
Taiwanese performance artist Kao Jyn-Hong has walked around Taiwan with vegetation in his back bag. Kao goes to the forest, digs of a tree, places it into his aquarium like back bag an starts walking and running. In his video Kao is running on a highway with a tree in his back or silently looking dressed as a monk with the tree in his robe.
Yoshio Kato’s (the pioneer of Japanese sustainable architecture) houses are almost laboratories, where the prevailing weather conditions are examined to the very details and no artificial air conditioning or other energy consumption is allowed. Professor Kato is a walking laboratory himself, pockets and car full of sensors ready to document the weather conditions when ever, where ever.
Together with multimedia artist Nikita Wu we produced an experimental documentary film Zero City for the exhibition following the developing of a future housing area in the North of Taipei. When Hong Kong was about to go to the Chinese authority in 1997 the town of Danshui estimated some 300.000 immigrants to move to Danshui escaping the communist rule. They developed this area with urban infrastructure including roads, traffic lights and road signs such as “School”, “Hospital”, “Be Aware of Children” and so on for the people to move in with a slogan: “Hey guys, immigrate to Danshui!” The Hong Kong people never came and the area has stood empty ever since. Step by step the nature has overtaken the sites of the planned houses and the roads are used mainly by ants. The traffic lights are still working.
The Ocean –wing exhibited works to encourage the Taiwanese visitors to start thinking seriously about the possibilities of ecological rehabilitation focused on the waters. Denmark based architects, artists and landscape architects CREW*31 converted industrial ships out of duty into fixed position urban use, including Bio Ship and Community Ship (realized urban plans for harbor cities in Denmark and Taiwan).
Close to the thinking of CREW*31 is Casagrande & Rintala’s ”60 Minute Man” for Venice Biennale 2000 in which we planted a small oak forest into an abandoned industrial barge on top of 60 minutes worth of human waste produced by the city of Venice. For the small village of Rosendahl in Norway we constructed a floating sauna as the center point of the village spreading around the final bay of the Hardanger fjord. The sauna has transparent walls and open floor to the ocean. One can jump from the heat straight to the sea.
Chi Ti-Nan, a Taiwanese architect and urban planner, is practicing the acupuncture in the light of his personal working method Micro-Urbanism, which is looking at the vulnerable and insignificant side of contemporary cities around the world. He believes that these forgotten and often abandoned areas of everyday life under urban design and capital driven development are, in fact, holding the genuine quality of each city. For the pavilion Chi did five plans for the host city Kaoshioung but his part of the exhibition was considered politically so challenging that the organizer Taiwan Design Center tried to ban parts of his graphics in several occasions without success.
Marco Casagrande with Alaskan industrial artist Martin Ross and students of Tamkang University constructed 8 adult size steel made movable rocking horses and placed then to strategic points around Taipei city and started to move towards the center and eventually to surround the city hall. During the march the horses acted as mail boxes for the citizens to write comments, memories and suggestions to Mayor Ma Ying-Jeou as bases for urban planning following Fritz Lang’s maxim from the movie “Metropolis”: “The mediator between the head and the hands must be the heart.”
Estonian Vilen Künnapu, an old school constructivist and leading Estonian architect all the way from the 70’s has during the last couple of years concentrated on energy central architecture inspired by the Tibetian Mandalas, Palladio and Luis Khan. To the surroundings of the Future Pavilion Mr. Künnapu constructed two three meters high red Stupa –buildings out of plywood. “These structures are important for the environment. The exhibition building itself is already very healthy.” According to Künnapu the Stupas were both 1:1 scale energy center structures in the exhibition as well as models for bigger Mandala –temples to be realized in the Kaoshioung harbor and outside the city hall. Some visitors stopped in front of the Stupas to pray. Inside the pavilion architect Künnapu exhibited his design line including the Buddhist Center of Tallin, Mandala –temple for Tallin Prison and 9 Mandala Temples for river Thames in London.
Japanese installation artist Sakura Iso washed the dirty laundry of the Japanese Ghost in the dark middle tower. The work called “Generator” was a complex mix of electronic sensors, microphones and oscillators mounted to the tower itself, into the deep well and the to the overtaking vegetation. Small laud speakers were then hidden into the structures, roots and leaves to create a gentle soundscape to work together with the ever altering natural light conditions of the tower and the shadows cast by the surrounding trees. Even the loud Taiwanese entered the space in silence and Miss Iso was believed to be able to communicate with the Ghost.
Essential part of the exhibition was the free newspaper edited by Miss Nikita Wu. She used the media of a newspaper instead of a catalogue to put together the thinking of the participating exhibitors in a direct way avoiding the common clichés of an exhibition catalogue. It seems thought that the exhibition and the newspaper have had enough time to raise conversation in Taiwan about the future and especially the role of an artist and architect as the ones to look towards the horizon. Most of the visitors though walked slowly in the wings with a silent smile on their lips. The leading Sufi researcher of Finland professor Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila could have commented: “One has to take the liberty to take one self one thousand years back to realize, that the things are the same.”