Document asked the multimedia artist to address the architecture firm's inventive, provocative legacy in this portfolio for Document's Fall/Winter 2013 issue.
It’s in the nature of artist Bjarne Melgaard’s voracious practice to ingest anything in its vicinity, scripting it into an eruptive, seductive, sickly flamboyant, nervously heartfelt and argumentative body of work, a multimedia exoskeleton within which the spirit of the artist, and by extension the rest of us, seem quarantined. To submit to this work, as an audience, we are even for a moment voluntary prisoners of art, invited to subversions and reactions that might dig us deeper still.
It’s along similar lines that architect Rem Koolhaas formulated an early collaborative collage, “Exodus or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture,” a transposition of the oppressive conditions of East Berlin onto the backdrop of 1970s London. The work would catalyze the foundation of OMA/AMO in 1975, the architecture, planning and research firm that Rem Koolhaas heads today and is internationally known for a wide range of inventive and provocative buildings. For Document, we asked Melgaard to address the legacy of OMA in a special portfolio.
Focusing on a handful of widely respected and formative designs such as Seattle Central Library (2004), the winning entry for a competition for the Hague City Hall (1986) or residential designs like the Villa dall’Ava (1991) and Maison à Bordeaux (1998), Melgaard has produced works that are less collage than erotic bindings coaxed from the darkroom of contemporary culture. Black electrical tape straps a second skin of iconography and notation to a layer of architectural photographs provided by OMA and left relatively intact. Intimate and hallucinatory spaces lurk between these layers, trapped between architecture and Melgaard’s ecstatic exoskeleton, ripe for imaginary intrusions.