OPEN HOUSE | STATE SECRETS opens July 22, 2010 at SUPERFRONT LA in the Pacific Design Center B208.
” – Would anyone like to have a little look down into the secret of how ideals are fabricated on this earth? Who has enough pluck? . . . Come on! Here we have a clear glimpse into this dark workshop.” -Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality
OPEN HOUSE | STATE SECRETS is about the dark side of architecture – ‘architecture’ in both the abstract political use of the term and the literal experience of normative buildings. Conceiving of this exhibition as a laboratory, Farrah Karapetian, Mitch McEwen, and architectural collective Bureau E.A.S.T will accumulate work in SUPERFRONT’s space between July 6th and August 22nd. SUPERFRONT’s space at the Pacific Design Center becomes a studio for the exploration of the parameters of photography, sculpture, mapping, and architecture.
Farrah Karapetian works here on designing new pieces that probe the beholder’s belief in and relationship to photographs as artifacts. In designing Photograph of a Foreclosed House, Flood Plain, and other models of disaster as color fields but around specific recognizable architectural details, Karapetian does not reject illusionism, but rather prizes form over pictorial information as a route to photographic communication. The pieces here are linked formally and psychosocially to much of Karapetian’s work, including The Kitchen and Its Negative of 2008, two discrete but linked sculptures that represented the positive and negative side of domestic space and its capacity to hold tragedy in its facade.
McEwen’s architecturally-informed installation interrogates the relationship between architecture and truth-production. Elements of a C.I.A. interrogation facility are constructed at one-to-one scale. Referencing secret sites of U.S. military detention, the work incorporates testimony of deposition statements from detainees held in the “War on Terror”. The work reproduces the multi-sensory experience of the facility typology analyzed, including multimedia elements such as white noise and rap music, as based upon evidence gathered of actual C.I.A. detainment practices.
Displayed as a projection of a series of analytic mappings, Bureau E.A.S.T.’s Ceuta and Mellilia research project focuses on the peculiar situation of the only territories on mainland Africa that belong to the EU. The project seeks to analyze the impacts of such hard edge geo-political border formations on the urban landscape of Ceuta and Mellilia and on their Moroccan hinterlands. In doing so, the project reactivates the discourse on physical borders, which has been spurned in the past decades by postmodern liberal theorists (Castell and O’Brian) who proclaimed the advent of a “liquid, borderless” world. Instead, this research unveils the emergence of an elaborate paradigm of mobility control characterized by a significant trans-border economic inequality and the deployment of an urbanism of surveillance and exclusion.
Mitch McEwen is both a practicing designer and the Director and Founder of SUPERFRONT, a gallery and project space for architecture and interdisciplinary projects. Since founding SUPERFRONT in January 2008, she has curated more than a dozen exhibits and published 4 architectural catalogs, working with artists, historians, and architects from New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Madrid, and elsewhere. Her exhibits at SUPERFRONT have investigated the relationship between architecture and performance, as well as phenomenology, community engagement, and urbanism.
Farrah Karapetian’s work frequently concerns moments of crisis as they register in architectural space, from the marks of unrest transcribed on the Western panels of the Berlin Wall to the charged space of shadows burnt into walls at Hiroshima. She works with cameraless photography in a sculptural field and her process results in images and forms that are, in the words of LA Times critic Leah Ollman, “more like a metaphor than a record.” Karapetian holds a BA from Yale (2000) and an MFA from UCLA (2008.) She has worked with space and photography internationally, including most recently an atrium designed by Richard Meier & Partners and a residency with the Los Angeles-based Wende Museum and Archive of the Cold War.
Bureau E.A.S.T. is a collaborative design practice based in Los Angeles, Toronto, and Fez, Morocco. Founded by Aziza Chaouni and Takako Tajima, Bureau E.A.S.T. is a collective of architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners, and engineers. This diversity is reflected in the range of projects currently within their office – from the landscape master plan to revitalize a forgotten river to the intimate residential garden; from the renovation of a non-profit animal hospital to the adaptive reuse of a 17th century palace. Their work has been published and exhibited internationally, including the International Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam; INDEX: Design to Improve Life in Copenhagen; and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN HABITAT) World Urban Forum.