The Armin Linke and Kuehn Malvezzi exhibition at the Vistamare gallery in Pescara is inspired by a project at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, Carlo Mollino Maniera Moderna, which was curated by Armin Linke and Wilfred Kuehn and realised in collaboration with the Kuehn Malvezzi studio. Whilst in the Munich exhibition the architects and artist explored and presented the multi-faceted work of Carlo Mollino (who moved between architecture, design, photography and writing to express the concepts and strategies of an extremely contemporary approach to architecture), in Pescara the point of view is reversed.
Here the Turin-born architect’s Maniera Moderna [modern style] offers a pretext for observing the work of Armin Linke and Kuehn Malvezzi who in turn observe Mollino. The leitmotiv is provided by Carlo Mollino’s buildings, interiors, furniture, photographs, invented spaces and installations, which are the subject of Armin Linke’s photographs and the source of inspiration for the conceptual furniture that Kuehn Malvezzi have designed.
Here Linke’s work plays out Carlo Mollino’s themes, interests and passions: from his alpine architecture, with extraordinary images like that of the Furggen ski-lift at Cervinia, to architecture as display in spaces like Turin’s Teatro Regia, or the idea of architecture as set – a space for public and private show, from the Lutrario dance hall to the interiors of homes and studios. But over and above the individual themes, it is on Mollino’s lucid and brilliant approach to space and of architecture that the exhibition focuses, an utterly unconventional and very modern approach which, as Wilfried Kuehn writes in the catalogue for the Munich exhibition, derives from the very contemporary idea of montage, a method which has characterized much of the art produced in recent years and which is central to the work of both Armin Linke and Kuehn Malvezzi.
Montage means identifying, selecting and appropriating diverse elements which, assembled in a different context, acquire new meaning and build a new narrative. Photographic montage is one of the ways in which Mollino constructs spaces, but his buildings are also montages, as are the interiors of the houses and studios that he inhabited and created for others.
This idea is also key to the photographs of Armin Linke. In his image of the Furggen ski-lift, for example, the artist selects an extremely personal and very specific view of the building, which rather than merely describing the structure, distills the idea of it and constructs a new narrative which includes other elements. In this piece Linke ‘reads’ the outer walls of the building as a stage set, underlining the idea of architecture as display and as theatre. From here we see a snowy alpine landscape that becomes part of the architecture as if it were a montage. From this moment onwards the entire image can shed its realistic connotations and become a different thing, an abstract description of a place, or a metaphysical narrative. But it can also shift back to being read [simply as a representation of] Mollino’s building.
Kuehn Malvezzi have created a table and a bar, the latter in homage to the “Mollinarian” aesthetic and to the style of the 1950s and 1960s when such objects were considered “modern” design pieces. For Kuehn Malvezzi the montage begins here, with the concept, with the choice of an anachronistic object type, with the appropriation of an idea that is transformed into something different: a piece of contemporary furniture in which materials, mirrors and photographs that Mollino himself had enlarged and used in an interior become citations, not so much (and not merely) of the architect’s work, as of his method of work. Appropriation, montage, the assigning of new meanings: this is Kuehn Malvezzi’s method. In the Flick Collection at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, for example, the architects emphasise the station’s former storage rooms via a visual intervention that renders them very evident but creates a function and significance that differs from the original. For Documenta XI in Kassel, Kuehn Malvezzi intervened in an ex-brewery with a wall/bench which underlines the pre-existing structure: here the architecture is almost invisible, but it completely appropriates and radically transforms the space. Another notable piece of montage was created in a recent intervention at Milan’s Museo del Novecento, where the architects produced an installation in which they included Lucio Fontana’s famous Arabesco al Neon (1951), the Museum itself and the view over Piazza Duomo in the centre of Milan.
November 24 - 24 January, 2013
Galleria Vistamare - Largo dei Frentani 13, Pescara