Thursday, February 07, 2008

PS1 Goes Green

Despite my general aversion to 1) standing in line for a drink for an hour, 2) wading my way through crowds of semi-considerate sweat-drenched people in the middle of a sweltering day, and 3) loud, predominantly percussionist music pulsating so out-of-sync with my heart beat, I can feel my old ticker pounding on the ceiling of my chest cavity with a broom handle, I have to admit the last time I attended a "Warm Up" beach party at PS1, I had a truly excellent time.

It took a while to reach inside and awaken my inner hipster, but eventually I was splashing around in the pool, shaking my groove thing (or whatever), and marveling at the transformative capacity of some carefully crafted wood and plastic and water in a concrete courtyard. The "Warm Up" series represents the very best in terms of community outreach by a cultural institution, in my opinion, and PS1 deserves all the
accolades the effort brings them yearly, including:
Voted by Time Out New York readers as the Best Club in 2005 -- December 29, 2005-January 4, 2006 issue

#10 of The 20 Hottest Beach Parties in the world by The Observer (UK) -- February 12, 2006 issue
The series mixes a courtyard installation by the winner of the annual Ps1-MoMA Young Architects Program with mingling, good family frollicking (few people I know get out of their entirely dry), and a world-class line-up of DJs and live performances:
[I]international DJs and live music ensembles [have included]: DJ Harvey, Groove Collective, Lovebug Starski, Afrika Bambaataa, Prins Thomas & Hans-Peter Lindstrom, Mad Professor, Richie Hawtin, Danny Krivit, Trevor Jackson, Francois K, DJ Craze, Charlie Dark, Vikter Duplaix, Fischerspooner, Frederic Galliano, Kid Koala, Arto Lindsay, The Scissor Sisters, Ursula Rucker, Derrick May, Swayzak, Luke Vibert, XPress 2, Danny Wang, and many more.
Typically, the architectural firm awarded the prize runs with the urban beach theme, giving it some twist toward coolness this year or eye candy that year, and so it was with something akin to amazement and sheer delight that I read this morning about the winning proposal this year. The New York Times' Robin Pogrebin has the details:

One can only imagine how the judges reacted when the architects walked in lugging the kind of hulking concrete-pouring cardboard tubes used at construction sites filled with flowering heads of cabbage.

The proposal by Dan Wood and Amale Andraos, the husband-and-wife duo behind Work Architecture, was clearly a departure from previous design proposals to transform the courtyard of the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, Queens for a summer. But the urban farm concept — including an abundance of fresh produce and a genuine harvesting plan — was apparently just too darn offbeat to pass up.

“It’s just so unlike anything that’s been done before,” said Barry Bergdoll, the chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, which jointly sponsors the annual Young Architects Program with P.S. 1. “It’s the first one that’s not canopies or party spaces. In some ways it’s almost in counterpoint to the program.”



Wood and Andraos's proposal is more than just a curiosity, in my opinion. They're possibly heralding a new level of "seriousness in our fun" consciousness that simply has to happen or we'll wake up one day to find we need gondolas to get to work in Manhattan. But beyond the "green = less global warming" arguments, they're interested in a broader (and not so gloomy) vision:

[T]he architects’ creative process started with the more traditional P.S. 1 courtyard concept of an urban beach, focusing on themes like the striped bathing costumes of a 1928 photograph called "La Plage." They moved from there to contemplating "Sous les pavés, la plage" (roughly, "under the paving stones, a better life"), a slogan dating from the 1968 student riots in Paris. Finally they arrived at the notion of "Sur les paves la ferme," meaning, "Over the pavement, the farm."

"We wanted to find what our generation’s symbol would be," Ms. Andraos said, "embodying our preoccupations, our hopes for the world."

In working out their design, the architects also kept in mind the movement from industrialization to postindustrialization, from global to local, from the free market to the farmer’s market, and from sand to hay.
Congrats to the architects! And congrats to PS1 for taking a chance on a project that promises to raise the bar significantly for what art, architecture, and partying can all be about. I suspect next year's proposals will all be more interesting.

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7 Comments:

Blogger zipthwung said...

Go drip irrigation!!!!

I wonder if Dan Wood and Amale Andraos shop at Trader Joes?

I went to the summer warm up after it jumped the shark (insanely long lines, crappy music, conspicuous corporate branding) and though I am a populist, something about the whole affair stunk.

PS1 is an arts institution, and its decision to hold large outdoor parties with "drink tickets" instead of direct cash-to-drink donations always seemed a bit of a cop out.

If you are going to lower the barriers between art and life, shouldn't you just open a club?

Club as art. Let the kids dirty dance without the sermon or the cabaret license.

Lets call it Hard Rock MOMA or THE MOMA ZONE. What does this outdoor sandpit (now mostly gravel anyways?) have to do with art?

2/07/2008 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I wonder if Dan Wood and Amale Andraos shop at Trader Joes?

Leave it out, Zip!

2/07/2008 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

ok. But i hope PS1 makes the branding less conspicuous. my demographic hates that crap. A simple thanks works waaaay better. Like PBS back before it had commercials. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation!!!

2/07/2008 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Joseph Giannasio said...

Damn! now have to take my overalls to the cleaners. :)

I was skeptical when I first read Ed's post, but some of the aspects described in the NYT article are pretty cool.

but on a WTF note referring to

The ultimate result, of course, is likely to be more modest. The project budget is $85,000, although the architects said they hope to raise $60,000 more in funds and in-kind donations of materials to cover additional costs.

which always seems to be the case with architecture in the real world, but in a setting like PS1 which is about creativity, it would be nice to let these architects or once really see their vision through without a budget restraint, If a back water institution like Mass MOCA could throw close to half a million dollars on a boondoggle like Buchel's, you would think a cutting edge institute in the center of the art world could come up with enough Green backs to let these architects realize their vision uncomptomised.

I think it's a perception thing we expect curators to step back and stay out of the creative process, but don't really pay attention to the meddling of developers in architectural projects, which is why there are so few truly outstanding examples of Architecture.

2/07/2008 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

This is such a cool project.

It made me think of the great book by Joan Gussow called 'This Organic Life.' In it she talks about the importance of eating locally grown foods.

"It costs 435 fossil fuel calories to fly a 5-calorie strawberry from California to New York."

"Apple juice labeled as 100% natural may be reconstituted from concentrates originating in China, India, and the Philippines."

Joan lives about 10 miles north of the GWB. She was married to the great painter, Allan Gussow.

2/07/2008 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it sad when the "best community outreach by a cultural institution" leaves out more than half of long island city's community? Unless we are only addressing the community of the twenties-something trust fund hipster, then yes, PS1 does alright.

2/08/2008 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Have you ever been to one of these parties, Anonymous. The attendees run the complete gamut, from men in suits to babies in diapers...everyone running around have a wonderful time. It's a true cross-section of the neighborhood. Of course, you can't expect folks who don't like music or dancing or crowds to attend, but no event can be all things to all people.

2/08/2008 08:50:00 AM  

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