Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA : an architectural intervention

Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA : an architectural intervention Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF), Sydney 3 July – 26 September 2009

An architectural intervention by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA was an installation commissioned by Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation to invite visitors to experience and explore the spatiality of sculpture through the language of architecture. Collectively known as SANAA, Sejima and Nishizawa's architecture epitomises an ethereal beauty and tranquillity through spatial organisation, topological equivalence and atmospheric orchestration.
SANAA’s architectural projects include the Christian Dior Building in Omotesando, the Glass Pavilion at Toledo’s Museum of Art, the New Museum in New York and the ephemeral Serpentine Pavilion in London. These projects are characterised by formal austerity, geometric purity and structural delicacy. But most importantly, the architecture of SANAA is open-ended, offering a freedom for the observer-participants who experience it to create illimitable relationships.

An architectural intervention in Sydney was composed of three independent amoebas; each amoeba was a continuous outline on a schematic plan that was extruded three-dimensionally with the insertion of apertures. Visitors were channelled through an undulating and diaphanous labyrinth, creating a beguiling and mesmerising experience. The sinuous sculpture was an amalgamation of 1 cm thick by 3m high transparent acrylic screens, the junctions were immaculately fastened by stainless steel joints and woven into seamless and amorphous alcoves. From the schematic plan, each clove is conceived of as an alternation between the convexity and the concavity which arises along the undulating outline and the perimeter walls of the gallery, thus giving birth to a series of alcoves.

SANAA’s installation magnifies the ambiguity between architecture and sculpture by introducing numerous apertures to the work. The openings disrupt the continuity of the single line allowing physical explorations and, together with the varying areas of the alcoves, manifest a diverse spatial organisation and programmatic possibilities.

SANAA’s installation is liberated from hierarchy, envisaging a state of randomness and indetermination. This is achieved by obtaining a balanced relationship between opposite but equivalent components. The transparency and translucency of the acrylic was obscured by the reflections of the curving screens. Also, the folding and layering imply a sense of depth and volume, juxtaposed with the thinness and slenderness of the material. The installation obtained structural integrity via the intricate rivet joints and was stabilised by the differential calculus of the waving screens. Free of any bracing, reinforcement and connection to the ground, the sculpture as a whole is perceived as weightless and thus transpires the spirit of Zen. The ritualistic and meditative atmosphere of the installation is further enhanced by the uniform distribution of artificial light and homogeneity of the 'white cube’.

SAANA’s An architectural intervention draws on an interesting relationship to their Flower House (2006) in Switzerland. In Flower House - with its amoeboid shape that again alternates convexities and concavities, the five arms that stretch out of the interior space are meshed with the surrounding outdoor space, forming two courtyards. The installation within the Sherman Gallery was an inversion of the Flower House, in such a way that the plan was not defined expansively from the centre outwards but from the demarcation of the gallery inwards. The inversion reflects the abolition of the hierarchy between interior and exterior and paradoxically, the equivalence of the two spaces. Such interchangeability is established on the identity of the form and counterform, closure and aperture, limits and connections, continuities and discontinuities generated out of the waving line.

An architectural intervention by SANAA achieves consummation when the architects randomly disperse clusters of Marumaru chairs (Rabbit chairs) inside and outside the alcoves, creating visual and physical punctuations as well as yielding a series of beautiful and playful interventions.


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