5 / 2018 - exhibition, UU AA 5

What’s up with architecture exhibitions and museums? Architecture and design have been involved in exhibition and museum activities for a long time, and designing exhibitions, conceptualising content and curating have also long been included in the job description of architects. Internationally, the discussion has evolved: where interesting and award-winning architecture used to be displayed by means of panels and scale models, currently architecture exhibitions are reviewed also in terms of presentation conventions, curating trends and other debates that that the institutions engage in. On the other hand, in Finland the field-specific discussion relating to architecture or design exhibitions, to the presentation of collections and to the treatment of history and current topics has dragged behind.

In Finland, discussion is currently ongoing regarding the combining and reformation of the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Design Museum in Helsinki. Touching on the topic, the issue features ten museums and exhibition institutions working in the field of architecture and design worldwide. The interviews reflect the changes, topical themes and future prospects that are discernible specifically in the realm of architecture and design. In addition, the issue discusses different possibilities of architectural representation and visits timely exhibitions, museums and exhibition spaces, among these also the recently opened Amos Rex art museum in Helsinki.

UU AA, a project exploring the new form of our publication continues with extracts of exhibitions discussed in the magazine throughout the years. The project continues in all issues of the magazine throughout 2018.


• Ålands kulturhistoriska museum, Maarianhamina, 2016
Futudesign & Markus Wikar

• Pro Nemus visitor centre, Äänekoski, 2018
UKI Arkkitehdit

• Publics event space and library, Helsinki, 2018

• Galleria Rankka, Helsinki
original building: Onni Tarjanne 1925

• Iittala & Arabia Design Centre, Helsinki, 2016

CCA | Mirko Zardini
M+ | Shirley Surya
Haus der Arkitektur | Markus Bogensberger
MFA | Reetta Heiskanen
RIBA | Marie Bak Mortensen
Arhitektuurimuuseum | Triin Ojari
gta Exhibitions | Fredi Fischli & Niels Olsen
MAO | Matevž Čelik
MAAT | Pedro Gadanho
Het Nieuwe Instituut | Guus Beumer

Exhibition at the Pavilion of Finland in the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia
curator Anni Vartola
commissioner Hanna Harris
exhibition architect Tuomas Siitonen
graphic designer Johannes Nieminen
address Giardini, Venice
gross area 85 m2
completion 2018
pavilion Alvar Aalto 1956

photos Ugo Carmeni, Alexander Mayes / Archinfo Finland

Art museum and renovation of Lasipalatsi
architects Asmo Jaaksi, Freja Ståhlberg-Aalto, Katja Savolainen, Päivi Meuronen
address Mannerheimintie 22–24, Helsinki
gross area 12 900 m2
completion 2018
original building Niilo Kokko, Viljo Revell, Heimo Riihimäki 1936

photos Tuomas Uusheimo
commentaries Marja Rautaharju, Juha Ilonen, Maria Arusoo

Sometimes the ending is the beginning. Curation, as with criticism, hinges between the labor of production and turning that work to face the public. As such, the opening of an exhibition represents an end point for the curatorial team and the start of an audience’s engagement with the ideas, materials, and experiences on view. Which is why, when reflecting on representation and a broad interpretation of the term to convey both the mechanical processes of display and the making seen and heard the bodies and voices structurally left out of the discourse, it makes sense to begin at the inauguration of the U.S. Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Who belongs and how to visualize inclusion and exclusion is at the crux of Dimensions of Citizenship, the theme of U.S. Pavilion curated by Niall Atkinson, Ann Lui, and myself, with associate curator Iker Gil. We invited the interdisciplinary arts collective Postcommodity to stage the ceremonial performance entitled We Lost Half the Forest and the Rest Will Burn This Summer to mark the opening of the pavilion. Dressed in Southwest regalia, artist Raven Chacon manned a mixing board and mic, flanked by proxies for absent members Cristóbal Martínez and Kade L. Twist. The piece was loud and powerful. Experimental music conveyed the violence of colonization wrought on indigenous landscapes and communities.

As curators, our intent was at the very least, to ensure the representation of first peoples and acknowledge that any claim to the rights of United States citizenship comes with profound loss to those who once freely occupied the land. What we didn’t foresee was how performance destabilizes architecture’s reliance on institutionalized power structures. The piece was staged in the courtyard of the Monticello-like pavilion with the columns of the portico as backdrop. It is the kind of architecture that is ubiquitous among civic buildings across the nation, but also a form that comes with a dark history of enslavement and alienation. So although the pediment boasted the words “Stati Uniti D’America”, We Lost Half the Forest underscored just how tenuous that unity is in our current political moment. 

Perhaps because architecture is primarily a visual discipline, noise makes people uncomfortable. It’s a form impossible to ignore or escape. Bureaucrats shushed us when atonal blasts from the loudspeakers at soundcheck interrupted remarks given by architect Bjarke Ingels at the Danish Pavilion opening. Some people complained about the amplification throughout the 30-minute set. Yet in order to own up to architecture’s responsibility to represent many voices, not simply those of the most elite design circles, we had to begin with a racket. ark

Mimi Zeiger is a Los Angleles-based critic, editor and curator.

Näköislehti: Site Logic