Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Vision To Visuals: Architecture Beyond Building
Making it big
Last month, I was in Venice for the opening of the 2008 Architecture Biennale where Duggal produced the “Into the Open: Positioning Practice” exhibition at the U.S. Pavilion, a venue reserved by the U.S. Department of State for the Biennales. Our relationship with the Department of State began in 2002, when Leanne Mella, the department’s Manager of International Arts Programs, approached us to create the largest traveling exhibition of Joel Meyerowitz’s 9/11 photographs. At that time, when fine-art photographers were still reluctant to see their digital //images enlarged beyond 4x6 feet, Joel placed his trust in us to exhibit his photographs at a scale that was appropriate for communicating the magnitude of the event.
We produced building-sized canvases and prints, which when exhibited at the pavilion in Venice, became the most powerful symbol of 9/11 to the international community. The exhibit went on to travel around more than 50 countries, and its success established a long-lasting partnership between Duggal and the U.S. Department of State.
The design team of “Into the Open” initially approached us to guide them through print materials, displays and installation for the exhibit. But it immediately became clear to me that in order to help them create an extraordinary exhibition, we’d need to take a few steps back and reassess their concept to suggest appropriate solutions. The theme of this year’s Biennale, “Out There: Architecture Beyond Building,” presented designers with the challenge of exhibiting conceptually, which made emphasis on graphic presentation and displays all the more critical.
|Elements of the “Into the Open: Positioning Practice” exhibition at the 2008 Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy. |
Now we were faced with the challenge of producing this 100-foot-wide photograph onto a material that could be tensile and fluid at the same time and still hold the smallest details in the image for up-close viewing. My art director took on the complex task of designing the structural aspects of this piece, running endless tests on several materials until an appropriate mesh was selected. Printed digitally in one piece, my installation team then hand-cut broad strips in the center of this 100-foot mural to serve as the doorway to the exhibit. The piece ended up as the most spectacular conceptual installation at the Biennale. One could spot it from afar, and the experience of walking through it in Venice gave me the very sensation of feeling welcomed and crossing a symbolic threshold that I had hoped it would convey to the international community.
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