Dichotomies. Apollo and Dionysus.
Nietzsche and all that stuff.
The original idea for VOL. XXIV was to create an immediate continuation or maybe rather counterpart to VOL. XXIII currently on view at the graphic cabinet of the Viennese Secession, where Haris Epaminonda composed newly crafted as well as found materials and elements around one centrepiece, a plaster replica of the original Greek bust of Apollo. Straightforward thinking lead to a concept based on the Dionysian opposite to a precisely structured layering of meanings and focal points relating to the ensemble created at Secession. Working in this direction quickly brought certain doubts and eventually opened up a more systematic thought process.
When Der Untergang, with a marvellous performance of Bruno Ganz, came out, people were frantic about the all too human depiction of the dictator. Now with the Darkest Hour, being all over the Oscars, this perception changed, since through the influx of costume TV shows we are already pretty much used to the illustration of historical figures, both heroes and villains, in more personal shades. The fact that a persona at the highest place of the parthenon of national history is a self-centric alcoholic comes with no real surprise anymore. Even though the main premisses remain stable and unchallenged: good, bad and ugly, clear distinctions and little space for doubt.
It is with more uncertainty that we watch nowadays a movie about a figure, who openly functions as a war time instrument, calling to arms, playing with nationalistic tones, proclaiming…”us, strong members of the former empire, can’t be conquered”. But the fabulous acting and trendy editing somehow overshadow all these sentiments and their relation to the troubled state of our time.
Anyway, is Apollo really the good guy, standing in opposition to the chaos, craziness and whatever kind of orgies his brother Dionysus may be up to (at least according to the simplifying lense popular culture teaches us to perceive him)? Not a good question. Let us rephrase, do we need dichotomies like this? WWII as an epic battle of good and evil, Cold War bipolarity, Vader and Luke, Trump and Bernie? VOL. XXIII and VOL. XXIV? Not that simple, is it? Fortunately now we are able to also go for T`Challa and Erik Killmonger.
What Epaminonda achieves with this show is not an opposition to the one at Secession: VOL. XXIV rather works as an emphases on the gradient of interpretations, it is more about the transformation of scales, both metaphorically and literally speaking. Not only that the small becomes life size, that details are being translated into expanding planes of imitation - what happens is actually an invitation to perceive all those elements in a unified field. Imagine several floorpans merging, rays of formerly focused light refracting and revealing an open ended process. Similarly to the numbering Epaminonda applies to each show, it is never over, the next number will always follow and a new position unravel.
Very simply laid out, in Secession you enter an environment, one of isolation and solitude, while here you have the chance to step into an image stretched out into space, proposing a formulation of new bonds. An image composed with a language Epaminonda usually utilises in a very minimal manner, this time allowing it to take over every little detail of the given architectural framework.
It is remarkable that it is area, not volume, that dominates financial and cultural valuations of space. Volume has always been rather used to measure fluids, but space has never been regarded as a fluid volume to be contained - so two-dimensional measure was considered sufficient. Similarly in architectural convention volume is rather regarded as the geometric result of two-dimensional drawings of section, elevation and plan - rather than vice-versa.
The Sensual Floor
negotiates between gravity and the upright body. It is the sole architectural element that is almost always touching our body. A basic assumption, a starting point or a display it has been the architectural response to make the earths surface more habitable or useful. In an optical culture that has largely favoured the vertical canvas, the floor has been often regarded an inert supporting layer and thus in a sense could stay free or wild. Through its constant communication with the body it can guide and organise behaviour, prompting posture or attitude (think of prayer rugs, floor-braille, dance floors, sports-floors, the catwalk or the red carpet). In its sensuality it sometimes also becomes a place for special desire, where sex cannot wait for a bed.
“…the starry canopy of the heavens with its azure blue has since ancient times - as long as humanity has embroidered, woven, painted, and built - been the model for those concerned with preparing upper horizontal terminations of a room.” Gottfried Semper notices in his main oeuvre ‘Style in the Technical and Tectonic Arts’. In more modern attempts the highest aspiration of the ceiling is to disappear and let the sky in, or at least to accurately simulate the sky, a feature especially sought after in museum architecture.
is the treatment of a surface to imitate the appearance of genuine, usually luxurious materials. Typically it has been used in buildings where either cost or weight of the real material would have surpassed financial means or structural possibilities. Faux marbling or marbleizing - its most popular variation by far - is used to create the distinctive and varied patterns of marble. Although faux stone painting is known to have been used already in Pompeii it took off in Europe during the Renaissance. The sophistication of these techniques is said to frequently deceive the naked eye of the visitor. A rare element in contemporary culture, it is currently mostly used in restoration.
The Window as Place
can be the key destination in a room, claim vast territory and affirm itself as a room-within-a-room, becoming an area of leisure, expression of privilege or vantage point. But the space in the window also brought commodity into the spotlight of the city when it intruded in form of the shop-window into the facades. Prompting in reverse technological advances, as ever-larger glass surfaces were needed for the shop-window to later be used in dwelling architectures.
The (Fourth) Wall
is a vertical structure with at least two essential functions: providing structure and dividing space. The bearing wall, as stable as the human need for shelter and the contingent wall, as changeable as our forms of sociability. A specific case is the ‘fourth wall’ referring to the invisible plane separating stage and audience, and originally attributed to the French philosopher Denis Diderot who famously said ‘When you write or act, think no more of the audience than if it had never existed. Imagine a huge wall across the front of the stage, separating you from the audience, and behave exactly as if the curtain had never risen.’