ABOUT ZAHA HADID – Architect + Artist + Designer + Extraordinary Woman
Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid DBE RA (31 October 1950 – 31 March 2016) was an Iraqi-British architect.
She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004. She received the UK’s most prestigious architectural award, the Stirling Prize, in 2010 and 2011.
In 2012, she was made a Dame by Elizabeth II for services to architecture, and in 2015 she became the first and only woman to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.
She was described by The Guardian of London as the “Queen of the curve”, who “liberated architectural geometry, giving it a whole new expressive identity”. Her major works include the aquatic centre for the London 2012 Olympics, Michigan State University’s Broad Art Museum in the US, and the Guangzhou Opera House in China. Some of her designs have been presented posthumously, including the statuette for the 2017 Brit Awards, and several of her buildings were still under construction at the time of her death, including the Al Wakrah Stadium in Qatar, a venue for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The architectural style of Hadid is not easily categorised, and she did not describe herself as a follower of any one style or school. Nonetheless, before she had built a single major building, she was categorised by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a major figure in architectural deconstructivism. Her work was also described as an example of parametricism. An article profiling Hadid in the New Yorker magazine was titled “The Abstractionist”.
When she was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2004, the jury chairman, Lord Rothschild, commented: “At the same time as her theoretical and academic work, as a practicing architect, Zaha Hadid has been unserving in her commitment to modernism. Always inventive, she’s moved away from existing typology, from high tech, and has shifted the geometry of buildings.”
The Design Museum described her work in 2016 as having “the highly expressive, sweeping fluid forms of multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry that evoke the chaos and flux of modern life”.
Hadid herself, who often used dense architectural jargon, could also describe the essence of her style very simply: “The idea is not to have any 90-degree angles. In the beginning, there was the diagonal. The diagonal comes from the idea of the explosion which ‘re-forms’ the space. This was an important discovery.”
London-based Gonkar Gyatso (b. 1961, Lhasa) creates humorous works informed by both politics and his personal life. “Just as the identity of my homeland cannot be separated from religion and politics, so my own sensibility has been shaped by the undeniable bond between the two.” Gyatso’s practice revolves around the reproduction of Buddhist iconography, calling the Buddha his ‘muse.’ Skillfully incorporating Western and Tibetan cultural themes into his work, Gyatso transforms traditional images of the Buddha into Pop Art-inspired multimedia works that satirize world politics and the mundanity of life. His iconic work titled Pokemon Buddha (2003) marks the first example of what has now become the central theme of his practice; much of his work references the shifts in identity that characterize the life of a migrant.
It was a tough decision to select examples of EDWARD BURTYNSKY`s brilliant series of landscape and industrial photography.
Well, I would like to introduce the ANTHROPOCENE PROJECT that includes a collection of remarkable photographic insights to you…
“[We] come from nature.…There is an importance to [having] a certain reverence for what nature is because we are connected to it… If we destroy nature, we destroy ourselves.” – Edward Burtynsky
THE AESTHETIC OF DESTRUCTION
To talk about “Terraforming” of the Earth by mining, urbanization, indus-trialization, industrialized agriculture, deforestation, etc. that is resulting in a reduction of biodiversity, climate changes, equalized biogeographies etc. is a minimization in my view. Let`s face the truth…it is bare destruction.
EDWARD BURTYNSKY is able to capture moments of heart-breaking beauty even within all this destruction. Sometimes it takes a second till you realize the entire scenario. I think, this smart twist contributes to the feeling of disturbance, his work is leaving.
FINE ARTS TO MAKE THE UNSEEN VISIBLE AND TO RISE AWARENESS
Watching his outstanding landscape photography involuntary leaves you with the impression that our planet is eaten alive — by us.
Deadly injured, covered with open wounds and scars, the Earth still provides us with all resopurces we need to further expand, dominate the creation and grow our population without any rhyme or reason.
Desparation, feeling helpless, and guilty… Let`s begin with changing ourself. I am sure that each one of us knows best where and how he is able to reduce his personal ecological footprint….Right?
BY THE WAY, WHAT IS THE “ANTHROPOCENE”?
Admittedly, I had to look it up….
The Anthropocene is a proposed epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on the Earth’s geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change. Various different start dates for the Anthropocene have been proposed, ranging from the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution 12,000–15,000 years ago, to as recent as the Trinity test in 1945. The most recent period of the Anthropocene has been referred to by several authors as the Great Acceleration during which the socioeconomic and earth system trends are increasing dramatically, especially after the Second World War. (wikipedia)
ABOUT THE ANTHROPOCENE PROJECT
Another collaboration from Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky, and Jennifer Baichwal, The Anthropocene Project is a multimedia exploration of the complex and indelible human signature on the Earth.
Originally conceived as a photographic essay and the third in a trilogy of films including Manufactured Landscapes (2006) and Watermark (2013), the project quickly evolved to include film installations, large-scale Burtynsky High-Resolution Murals enhanced by film extensions, 360° VR short films, and augmented reality installations.
Embracing and developing innovative techniques, the trio embarked on an epic journey around the world (to every continent save Antarctica) to capture the most spectacular evidence of human influence, while taking time to reflect on the deeper meaning of what these profound transformations signify. The result is a collection of experiences that will immerse viewers in the new world of the Anthropocene epoch, delivering a sense of scale, gravity, and impact that both encompasses and moves beyond the scope of conventional screens and prints.
The project includes:
a major travelling museum exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario and National Gallery of Canada before it will travel to Manifattura di Arti, Sperimentazione e Tecnologia (MAST) in Bologna in Spring 2019;
a new release of Edward Burtynsky photographs;
a feature documentary film;
immersive interactive experiences in augmented and virtual reality;
IN THE NEWS (09th Jan. 2019): ANTHROPOCENE won $100K Rogers Best Canadian Film Award – Congratulations!
ABOUT EDWARD BURTYNSKY
Edward Burtynsky (born February 22, 1955) is Canadian photographer and artist known for his large format photographs of industrial landscapes. His work is housed in more than 60 museums including the Guggenheim Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, the Tate Modern in London, the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris and others.
Burtynsky received his BAA in Photography/ Media Studies from Ryerson University in 1982, and in 1985 founded Toronto Image Works, a darkroom rental facility, custom photo laboratory, digital imaging and new media computer-training centre catering to all levels of Toronto’s art community.
Early exposure to the sites and images of the General Motors plant (the workplace of his father) in his hometown helped to formulate the development of his photographic work. His imagery explores the collective impact we as a species are having on the surface of the planet; an inspection of the human systems we’ve imposed onto natural landscapes.
Edward Burtynsky won several well-known prices & awards (e.g. Officer of The Order of Canada in 2006) and received several honorary doctorates.
Furthermore, he is an active lecturer on photographic art, who is welcome in various notable galleries, universities and libraries.
His images appear in numerous periodicals each year including Canadian Art, Art in America, The Smithsonian Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, Flash Art, Blind Spot, Art Forum, Saturday Night, National Geographic and the New York Times.
For further details, please feel free to visit his website that contains more galleries of awesome photos, an overview of his publications and EDWARD BURTYNSKY`s event calendar:
IRIS VAN HERPEN – Definetely one of my absolute favorite fashion designers, inventors & artists….unfortunately beyond my budget.
Her COUTURE respectively the brilliant pictures of her breath-taking art pieces – taken by MORGAN O`DONOVAN – is pure eye-candy in my view…
ABOUT IRIS VAN HERPEN
IRIS VAN HERPEN is a Dutch fashion designer who is widely recognized as one of fashion’s most talented and forward-thinking creators who continuously pushes the boundaries of fashion design.
Since her first show in 2007 van Herpen has been preoccupied with inventing new forms and methods of sartorial expression by combining the most traditional and the most radical materials and garment construction methods into her unique aesthetic vision.
Van Herpen is often hailed as a pioneer in utilizing 3D printingas a garment construction technique, and as an innovator who is comfortable with using technology as one of the guiding principles in her work because of its sculptural nature and unfamiliar form.
The designer’s intent is to blend the past and the future into a distinct version of the present by fusing technology and traditional Couture craftsmanship.
Her singular vision combined with the complexity of her creations has made van Herpen a fixture on the Paris Haute Couture calendar, where she has shown since January 2011. Additionally, van Herpen’s work has been featured in various notable museum exhibitions.
Because of van Herpen’s interest in multidisciplinary approach to creation that goes beyond fashion, she has often collaborated with various artists such as Jolan van der Wiel and Neri Oxman and architects such as Philip Beesley and Benthem and Crouwel Architects. The designer’s interest in science and technology has led to ongoing conversations with CERN (The European Organization for Nuclear Research) and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
Facing the ever-growing self-optimization delusion that fuels our inner critic non-stop, it is quite comforting to fall back on the Japanese idea respectively Zen-inspired concept of “Wabi-Sabi”.
Wabi-Sabi describes the art of Imperfect Beauty – accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay (as well as cycle of life & death), in which everything has beauty.
It is simple, slow and uncluttered, and it reverse authenticity above all. Finally, it is the imperfection that make up uniqueness and individuality. Just perfection can be copied, if perfection exists at all.
Wabi-Sabi celebrates cracks (e.g. see the pic of bowl with gold-filled cracks), crevices and all the other marks that time, weather and loving use leave behind.
It reminds us that we are all just transient beings on this planet and that we will return to dust at the end like the entire material world.
Wabi-sabi is not just a Concept, but also an aesthetic and a worldview.
Simply, an intuitive way of Living reflecting the Japanese “mindfulness culture” and in particular “yugon”.
The latter stands for an awareness of the universe that triggers deep emotional responses impossible to express verbally.
Translated literally wabi means lonely, miserable and feeling lost. Just in combination with the term: sabi the meaning is uncovered – being old, mature and showing patina.
Not the obvious beauty is the ideal but hidden (covered up) beauty. Harsh simplicity that reveals appeal / charm to understanding/knowing people (like Connaisseur in French) and nobless hidden in the envelop of unimpressiveness is regarded as true beauty.
In den Wäldern drüben, tief unter der Last des Schnees, ist letzte Nacht ein Pflaumenzweig erblüht.
In the woods over there, deep under the weight of the snow, a branch of plum blossomed last night.
Hanami (short-living cherry blossom on trees that don´t grow cherry fruits) but also plum blossom arms are symbols for transience and therefore, also for a young, honorable dead – traditionally among Samurai but also in general related to seppuko (suicide to save one`s Honor and the one of the family, which is still practiced today).
Well, I don´t want to let you go with dark thoughts…in the contrary!
Please, keep in mind you are perfectly imperfect. Outside beauty is by far less valuable than the inner one. Stay pur and authentic, just be you.
And if someone is really interested in you, he/she will be empathic and will take her/his time to get to know you and recognize you – uncovering your beauty. You´ve deserved such kind of special person – who cannot be fooled by polished, shiny surfaces – because you are truely beautiful.
I am deeply in love with Kengo Kuma`s breath-taking work. My heart is heavy because I will never ever afford to hire his studio to build my house. Studying traditional Japanese martial arts (also abroad), I know a little bit about the Japanese history, culture and philosophy, which I highly appreciate.
I am Northern by nature. Thus, I feel comfortable with merging Scandinavian and Japanese design languages that are very close to each other in my view. Think of the preference of high-quality, sustainability, natural materials, clean minimalism and purity….trying to reinterpret traditions and to upgrade them with innovations & inventions.
May I introduce KENGO KUMA and his amazing art work to you?
Kengo Kuma (隈 研吾 Kuma Kengo, born 1954 in Yokohama) is a Japanese architect, product designer, artist and professor in the Department of Architecture (Graduate School of Engineering) at the University of Tokyo (Hongo). Kuma is also noted for his prolific writings.
After spending a couple of years abroad, he founded the “Spatial Design Studio” in 1987, and in 1990, he established his own office “Kengo Kuma & Associates”. As a professor at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Tokyo, he runs diverse research projects concerning architecture, urbanity and design within his own Laboratory, Kuma Lab. His office Kengo Kuma & Associates employs over 150 architects in Tokyo and Paris, designing projects of diverse type and scale throughout the world.
Kuma’s most ambitious project at the moment is undeniably the Tokyo 2020 National Olympic Stadium, a 68,000-seat wooden lattice structure that is still under construction. Kuma and Associates’ scheme was selected after the original winning design — by British-Iraqi Zaha Hadid (who unexpectedly died in 2016)– was abandoned due to budgetary concerns – and due to criticsm for not selecting a local architect.
Kuma’s stated goal is to recover the tradition of Japanese buildings and to reinterpret these traditions for the 21st century.
Without being an architecture expert or Japanese studies graduate, I have tried to summarize the major aspects of Kengo Kuma`s philosophy, as I perceive and understand his wonderful work. Voilà….
Buildings as sculptures of light and shadow
Merging buildings into the enviroment instead of dominating them
Incorporation of the (weather, seasonal or development-related) changing nature into buildings (embracing change and interchange)
Open and flexible spaces summarized by the roof only
Organic shapes in the context, culture and tradition of its surroundings
Use of natural, sustainable organic materials that are locally produced
Innovative techniques to better use traditional materials like wood, stone and rice paper
Zen inspired reduction & minimalism to enable focus on the essentials of the Here & Now
Offering physical comfort but also mental comfort
Striving for harmony with the inner and outer world
Architecture as an attempt to connect the past with the future
Buildings that are offering different perspectives to levitate your mind & spirit
Integration of technology (e.g. solar panels) not only as mere technical feature but also as integrated design elements
Requirement of eco-friendliness and longevity of architecture that shall outlast generations.
I guess, Kuma`s architecture addresses my hidden desires perfectly. This might be the reason why I am so much fascinated and touched by his philosophy and poetry-like design.
STELLA DEETJEN – An astonishing strong woman who ended up spontaneously building up a non-profit aid organization with a seed capital of USD 100,- to support local lepers in INDIA as a young student & backpacker tourist in 1997. Gradually, she grow her organization & network that supported street children and founded medical care centres and 13 slum-schools.
Since 2009 Stella and her team expanded to NEPAL, where her organization “BACK TO LIFE” founded 10 schools and medical care & birth centes and provided emergency help by reconstructing 7 schools after the big earthquake.
STELLA DEETJEN: “I’M JUST A NORMAL WOMAN”.
Stella Deetjen works as a German development worker in Nepal and India, is the foundress and managing director of the non-profit organization “Back to Life – Helping others help themselves in Nepal and India” and is the representative of the aid organization. She can also speak six languages fluently, including Hindi and Nepali.
Born in 1970 in Frankfurt/Main, she successfully completed her high school at the Kaiserin-Friedrich-Gymnasium in Bad Homburg and finished her acting education. At the beginning of the 1990s, Stella Deetjen had planned to study photography in Rome. Her place of study was already confirmed and safe. Before the studies started, she traveled for several months as a backpacker through India, where she eventually met the local lepers in Benares (now Varanasi). The encounter with these in India so called “Untouchables” ultimately led to the decision to stay in India and to help the lepers. In 1996, the non-profit organization was finally founded.
Caring for leprosy patients and their relatives in Benares let to caring for street children. Until December 2017, Back to Life had run children’s homes in cooperation with an Indian partner organization and a total of 13 slum-schools, so called non-formal schools, which considered the daily routines of the slum schools. After 21 years all India projects phased out.
In 2009 already, Stella Deetjen expanded her help in Nepal. In the medieval mountain region of Mugu, the organization has already built 10 schools and 7 birth centres, in Chitwan the focus is on supporting disadvantaged girls,their schools and the population as a whole of the project area. Through targeted trainings and support – including medical care – the population is taught to help themselves for not creating dependencies in the future.
After the earthquake in Nepal, the organization also provided emergency help and reconstructed 7 schools.
In 2016, Stella published her book “Untouchable – My Life Among the Beggars of Benares”, in which she tells about the early years of her work and of the organization.
HOW STELLA STARTED – A DECISION OF A MOMENT
The first time that I met lepers was in Benares – during a backpacking trip. They begged on the roadside, outcasted by society. Their situation seemed hopeless, as if they were just waiting for their death. I was sitting on some stone steps suffering from bad stomach pain and could not walk anymore. Then an old, white-haired leper came and asked if he could help me. I was stunned: I was the tourist with money in my pocket – I should have offered him my help.
He gave me a loving look that hit me right to the heart and soul and touched my head giving me a blessing. I was not afraid of his touch, though at that time I did not know if I could catch leprosy. He gave me so much human warmth that I could go on a little later.
The next day, I went to see this man to give him some useful things. When I asked for his name, he said: “My dear child, for 14 years no one has asked for my name, why do you want to know it now?” Musafirs answer did not let go of me.
I began to meet with him and his companions every day. The joy of being interested in them was written all over their faces. So, time passed… I learned my first words in Hindi with the help of Musafir and had already build a friendly relationship with the whole group: some called themselves my grandfather, my little brother or sister.
One day the police suddenly took all the male lepers and locked them on a truck. The police explained that begging was illegal, and the men were to be sent to jail. I was afraid that I would never see them again and something terrible could happen to them.
It was a decision of the moment: If I really thought them to be my brothers, then I should not leave them defencelessly to their fate. So, to the horror of the police, I jumped on the truck. They ordered me to get out again – but I refused. When we left, hundreds of people followed us on their bicycles. Some scolded me, other called out “God bless you”.
For hours we drove through the city and more beggars were collected. Then they were detained in a camp. Some asked me to send telegrams to their families to inform them that they were still alive but could not send any money. Because they send almost all their begging money, so that wife and children could live and survive in the village. For months, I tried everything to end their captivity, went to the mayor, magistrate and the highest judge of Benares and hired an Indian lawyer. But the matter proved to be extremely difficult.
One day I was interviewed, and the article was published in almost every Indian newspaper. As a result, the beggars were released in small groups. Finally free again, they pleaded with me not to return to my home country. During the same time, I met a Swiss doctor who told me that leprosy was treatable and gave me US$ 100. These US$ 100 became the cornerstone of my project, and I started the first street clinic for leprosy patients and their children with the support and help of a Western nurse.”
Of course, donations, helping hands and sponsors are always welcome! For more details about BACK TO LIFE: