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.
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:
Actually, China continues to build rail lines, bridges, dams and other public works projects evidence of an altruistic commitment to improve communication and commerce within Africa or a calculated strategy to further facilitate China’s deep penetration into the African hinterlands for raw materials (not unlike the European colonialists who built rail lines and ports to export Africa’s mineral wealth). China fully supports corrupt-to-the-core African dictators not because it does not want to “interfere” in local politics but because these dictators are the only means China has to ensure a chokehold on Africa. China’s fortunes in Africa are tied to the (mis)fortunes of Africa’s thugtators and dictators.
Is China a genereous investor and developer or have Africans face a revival of colonialism?
Cit: Alemayehu G. Mariam, Sep 07, 2017:
“The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside… The result of neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the develop-ment of the less developed parts of the world. Investment under neo-colonialism increa-ses rather than decreases the gap between the rich and the poor countries of the world…. Neo-colonialism might be also the worst form of imperialism. For those who practise it, it means power without responsibility and for those who suffer from it, it means exploita-tion without redress. In the days of old-fashioned colonialism, the imperial power had at least to explain and justify at home the actions it was taking abroad. In the colony those who served the ruling imperial power could at least look to its protection against any violent move by their opponents. With neo-colonialism neither is the case.”
WILL AFRICA FEED CHINA …OR HAVE AFRICANS TO BUY LOCAL FOOD FROM CHINA IN THE FUTURE?
There are African voices that are warning: Beware of Chinese bearing gifts: “Investments, loans, aid…”
China has literally invaded Africa with its investors, traders, lenders, builders, developers, laborers, Confuzius institutes and who knows what else.
Feel free to get insight into facts & figures of the Chinese FDIs and Arican politics published by Alemayehu G. Mariam in the Pambazuka News (Voices for Freedom & Justice):
Kenyan Contemporary Artist Michael Soi is one of the crtical voices today.
Among other beautiful arts and design objects, he created a series of colorful, strong paintings called “CHINA LOVES AFRICA” (web: http://michaelsoistudio.com/)
He blames the Africans for selling their continent with ist natural resources, oil, gas , Copper, Titanium, Farmland, cattle, cheap labor for sweat shop relocation from APAC to Africa and so on. ..without transferring know-how same time.
In my view (Weiss-Nix), the Chinese won´t do the same mistakes like the greedy Western investors in China, who enabled China to become a global competitor because they gave up their loyality to their staff and locations in the course of the quite short-sighted globalization process – putting shareholder value first without any scrupel.
However, Michael Soi highlights that the engagement of the Chinese infrastructure investments are not free of charge at all. In the Weltspiegel-TV interview of 19th Aug. 2018, he explains cit:
“DEBTS ARE THE NEW IRON CHAINS OF TODAY”.
As a European I wonder, why it has been possible to keep and distribute the oil / gas related wealth across the Arabian societies (UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, KSA….) and why the African states, who are blessed with so many natural ressources (incl. people, farmland & animals) seem to be not able to manage these assets to the benefit of their People by developing their countries in a long run? A naive, stupid question?
Unfortunately, we (Germans) have to live from our sole significant natural ressource: Education, Discipline & Creativity – which means: Our People. Imagine what we could achieve if god would have been a little bit more generous to us….Okay, we`ve got a lot of rain…which won´t be for sale to China like our hidden gems (=innovative small-medium-sized businesses) and our strong global brands, I hope.
ABOUT MICHAEL SOI
Michael Soi (Born Nairobi 1972) lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya where he has is a leading light in what is a burgeoning contemporary art scene. The son of one of Kenya’s most distinguished contemporary painters, Soi has developed in to a successful painter and sculptor with a unique vision and highly distinctive style. His three dimensional work is playful and cryptic – usually created with brightly painted plywood. Much of his paintings provide satirical commentary on socio-political issues his unforgiving if humorous gaze focussing on political impunity, greed and Kenya’s growing sex industry.
Michael Soi’s paintings are informed by a strong tradition of cartoonists whose works have satirised Kenyan society since independence – often bravely poking fun at the political establishment. He is at pains to make work that is meaningful to his own countrymen and also bought locally by a new generation of Kenyan art collectors, but at the same time he now has a growing international following. His concern is with clarity of form and legibility of message; in the process he has created his own universal pictorial language
Soi’s acrylics on canvas paintings are sharply political and expressive, questioning Beijing’s push to making the most of Africa’s cheap labor, natural resources, and the continent’s increasing need for advanced technology and infrastructure. Put together, the pieces stand as both social commentary and a visual diary of how China is shaping the future of Kenya— and Africa — for generations to come.
With reference to his “CHINA LOVES AFRICA Series”, please find an INTERVIEW below…
Due to the fact that I couldn`t retrieve MIchael Soi` s website that included an online shop with very stylish designer bags (his old domain seems to be expired), please have a look at his FACEBOOK presence:
Since visiting Norway a few years ago, I knew that I must have some Scandinavian blood like friends & colleagues abroad supposed. My body design & features clearly indicates that my ancestors were not 100% Southern French-German. In Norway, I found my shopping paradise.
The swimmer-like width of my shoulders, my long arms & legs and female curves…no problem. Frankly speaking, my appearance is not cute at all (at least at first sight). I am a shield maid and a real woman – and not a kawai little girl. I spent some time in Asia, where I couldn´t find anything for my wardrobe.
By the way, later year I did one of these popular genetic tests and finally got the confirmation, in terms of genetic ethnicity I am a French-German-Scandinavian Mix plus a dash of Iberian. No wonder that Scandinavian fashion fits me well.
However, may I introduce ANITA HIRLEKAR`s beautiful work and philosophy to you?
Autumn/Winter 2018 is a collection with a strong focus on textiles (print, felt, and embroidery) and the quality of hand work. It is about going to back to making things by hand to create something meaningful and special. All the fabrics was made by Anita in her textile studio in Akureyri Iceland.
Taking an artistic approach to fashion, ANITA HIRLEKAR has an unconstrained use to color & texture.
The prints are developed and hand painted by Anita using her embroidered pieces as inspiration. All fabrics vary in color & texture giving the garment a unique appearance. The collection consists of easy & elegant print dresses & separates. All the textiles and accessories are made in our studio in north of Iceland.
Feature on Vogue Italia
At the occasion of the Reykjavik Fashion Show 2017, Cit.: The RFF was closed by talented Aníta Hirlekar, the designer whose strongest point is her artisanal approach – recognizing (and preserving) the importance and uniqueness of handmade clothing. She sent down the runway tops and dresses with innovative and colorful textures, in perfect balance with the elegance of all the silhouettes”
ABOUT THE FASHION DESIGNER
ANITA HIRLEKAR is a womenswear label based in Reykjavik, Iceland. Established in 2014 the eponymous brand creates sophisticated and feminine designs with a playful touch.
Taking an artistic approach to fashion, ANITA HIRLEKAR has an unconstrained use of color & texture. The designs have a strong attention to innovative fabrications always focusing on longevity.
The brands signature is to develop a vision that will reflect the uniqueness of the human touch, combining handcrafts with an high fashion sensibility.
All the textiles are made & developed in our studio in north of Iceland.
Anita completed both BA in Fashion Design with Print in 2012 followed by the MA specializing in Fashion Textiles at Central Saint Martins collage of Art and Design in London.
Since graduating in 2014 Anita Hirlekar has received international acknowledgment. Anita´s unique vision of style & colors was recognized when she was chosen as one of four ones to watch designers at London fashion week SS 16.
Her designs has been featured in numerous publications such as Elle US, Self Service & i-D magazine & worn by creative women such as the award winning director Rungano Nyoni at the BAFTAs 2018.