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Saturday, June 12, 2010

SANAA in Taipei

SANAA: Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa had an exhibition of their architectural models at 士林紙業加工間 in Taipei a couple of months ago. By chance the exhibition coincided with the announcement of Sejima and Nishizawa receiving the Pritzker Prize. Therefore, the show was elevated to a higher profile and took on more prominence than perhaps it was meant to be.

Before going, I certainly had high hopes for the show. Generally I like the works by SANAA, however the show in Taipei was a disappointment. To start, the space was essentially an abandoned factory. I understand the appeal of a rough and old industrial structure, but I expected a little bit more transformation than hanging a few fixtures and putting in a scrim to separate the reception area from the exhibition space. A new finish for the floor would have been welcomed, at least to prevent any tripping accident.

As for the models by SANAA, it was sort of a combination of study and presentation models and objects, with materials ranging from wood, plastics, metal, and cardboard. The models tended to be abstract and rough, and would have come across more as art objects in a pristine setting, perhaps like a typical SANAA designed space.  Instead, in the borderline dilapidated space, the models looked less like they were in an exhibition but more in a generously-spaced storage. What made things worse were many of the models were dirty and dusty with parts either detached or coming unglued. Since the show consisted only of models, it was quite minimal. Unfortunately the show didn't project the refined minimalism that one has come to associate with the works by SANAA.

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