Sylvia Lavin

  • View of “Elements of Architecture,” 2014. Central Pavilion, Venice. Ceiling display. Photo: Francesco Galli.


    THE FOURTEENTH ITERATION of the Venice Architecture Biennale is an exhibition of superlatives. Having opened this past June and remaining on view through November, it will be the longest-running and most expansive, diverse, and interdisciplinary of any Architecture Biennale to date, with the involvement of a host of major curators and practitioners from the art world. Perhaps most significantly, its director, the provocateur Rem Koolhaas, has organized an exhibition of unprecedented ambition and focus—one that seeks not only to take stock of contemporary architecture but to shape the future of the field. Artforum invited scholar and critic SYLVIA LAVIN to reflect on the implications of this super-Biennale, which may resonate far beyond the boundaries of architecture.

    A DECADE AGO, reflecting back on Harald Szeemann’s Documenta 5 of 1972, Daniel Buren worried that this groundbreaking exhibition might have paved the way for the role of the curator to eclipse, even obviate, that of the artist: “Today it is possible to imagine that we are not far off from having a large-scale international exhibition directed by a great organizer-author who proposes the first exhibition without any artists at all!” Indeed, Szeemann had achieved an uncanny degree of authorial control over the show despite its unprecedented size and almost infinite variety of contributors. Rather

  • Philippe Rahm Architectes, Evaporated Rooms, 2011–12, Lyon, France. Apartment interior. Photo: Nicolas Pauly, 2012.


    Trading Spaces a roundtable on art and architecture Art and architecture meet more often and more profoundly today than ever before—from public art to the art-fair tent, from the pavilion to the installation. But if the interchange between these fields offers a host of new possibilities for structure, space, and experience, it also makes reflection on their status more urgent. To chart this complex constellation of interactions, Artforum invited critics HAL FOSTER and SYLVIA LAVIN; artists THOMAS DEMAND, HILARY LLOYD, and DORIT MARGREITER; architects STEVEN HOLL and PHILIPPE RAHM; and curator HANS ULRICH OBRIST—a group whose pioneering work marks the front lines of art-architecture exchange—to engage in a conversation moderated by Artforum senior editor Julian Rose.

    JULIAN ROSE: While many agree that there is an unprecedented level of interchange between art and architecture today, there is surprisingly little consensus about what, specifically, these interactions entail or where they actually take place. Which models of interaction between art and architecture are most significant, and where can we begin to locate them?

    STEVEN HOLL: Architecture is an art—the premise of a division is specious.

    THOMAS DEMAND: I do think there is a clear difference between the practices, though. Every time I’ve ever worked with an architect, the collaboration was based

  • Dan Graham, Pavilion/Sculpture for Argonne, 1981, two-way mirror, glass, steel frame. Installation view, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL.


    THE PAVILION IS EVERYWHERE in the contemporary cultural landscape. Indeed, these structures—generally freestanding but temporary, typically without a prescribed function but often with an intensely aesthetic posture—are one of the few species on this terrain whose numbers are growing. While such growth is normally understood to signal the health of an ecosystem, the abundance of the pavilion today instead signals the end of an era—and a new kind of ending, one that challenges our modes of evaluating cultural production as a whole.

    Confronting endings has long been a central function

  • View of Preston Scott Cohen’s Herta and Paul Amir Building, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 2011. Photo: Amit Geron.


    THE CONTEMPORARY MUSEUM often resembles a FedEx box: a generic packaging unit designed with just enough attention to the exterior to lend value to the contents, while the apparently neutral interior purports to accommodate anything. And just as there is no link between the box and its geographic location, the container and its contents have a perfunctory relation to each other. The recently opened Herta and Paul Amir Building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, designed by Preston Scott Cohen, was eagerly anticipated in architectural circles for the way it promised to break with this paradigm and

  • View of “Pipilotti Rist,” 2011.

    Pipilotti Rist

    Neither tenderness nor roominess are states of being that should expect to survive in the hostile environment of Peter Eisenman’s Wexner Center for the Arts. The Wexner has no rooms, its architect having rejected this spatial category as rooted in bourgeois notions of inhabitation, and does not tolerate affect of any kind. Antagonism was essential to Eisenman’s effort to eradicate those sentiments and habits of use that condemn architecture to affirming falsely universalizing humanism and proscribing fixed patterns of behavior. So to find a room full of tenderness surviving in a space conceived