in which its gaze, bent merely on itself, upholds and gleams
18.2.2016 - 2.4.2016
by Hendrik Lakeberg
Architecture is more than the practical aspiration of man to get a roof over his head. This is too often forgotten. If it is taken seriously, architecture has an extremely important task: to think about how we can live better. In other words, architecture is inherently utopian.
Madeleine Boschan’s latest works subtly deal precisely with these utopian claims. Her seemingly architectural sculptures create a space that is in a manner both conscious and elegant, and deeply rooted in the history of Western civilisation, giving wings to thoughts, and perhaps even to the body that moves around them.
The relationship between space and body and the implications arising from it are the determining constants in Boschan’s work. She took the starting point for her ideas for the exhibition, in which its gaze, bent merely on itself, upholds and gleams, from, above all, such epochs and places in which architecture attempted to constructively bring form, function and body together. This also means achieving a genuinely human form of construction rather than one copied from nature. Structural clarity, symmetry, sharp edges and flat surfaces - all are attempts to overcome the confusing mechanisms of nature. This steady development can be traced from the Ancient Greeks, through the Enlightenment to Modernism, the Bauhaus and Brutalism. At the same time, there are defiant attempts in Boschan’s fictive and functionless artefacts to retain the utopian ideas that are contained in the architectural strategies she references.
Nevertheless, Boschan does not ignore that just such strategies peaking in Modernism have been overshadowed during the last 60 years by the explosion of mass and pop culture. A culture which its achievements are put through the hoop, sometimes in a refreshingly irreverent manner; she exaggerates, dilutes, perverts and allows it to become kitsch.
Boschan is not only interested in the elegant forms of Art Deco houses in Miami, but also in its residents’ mint green sports jackets and white trousers fluttering in the summer breeze. Not only in the utopian severity of Oscar Niemeyer’s Brasilia, but also in the soft Tropicália rhythms that waft through the urban canyons. And we all know in the meantime that the architecture of the ancient world, long treasured for its clarity, was in fact brightly coloured. In other words; reason is never only the cold overcoming of nature, it also needs a body to give it wings.
Accordingly, optimistic colouration also gives wings to the angular forms in Boschan’s works, as if they are the scaffolding of a better world. Within it, amongst other things, the desire and longing for, even the defiant and celebratory retention of the idea of utopia. One is welcome to leave this exhibition with a dance in one’s step - at best with the melody of a softly vibrating Bossa from Gilberto Gil in one’s thoughts and body.
Hendrik Lakeberg is a cultural journalist and editor-in-chief of Numéro Homme Germany