31 May 2010

An Easy Target (Rant)


Activism ∕ Ephermera ∕ Fiction

I snapped this thing a month or so ago, a smirk twisting upon my face in irony-laden amusement. To be honest, any time I get anywhere close to Berlin’s very own little ‘ground zero’ I get my grimace on, so it was a mild relief to rest my eyes upon an image so ridiculous and flimsy.

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So I guess this is the cultural resonance of OMA’s Seattle Public Library. For anyone wishing something that avant would ever get built at a similar scale in the heart of poor, uncultivated Berlin, I mean by poor rich, uncultivated Federal Rupublic of Germany, well, I’m sorry to break it to you, not any time soon. Although the Humboldt Forum is a project being driven at the federal level and to no small extent by the donations of private interests with dubious motives, we in Berlin are, politically speaking, willing victims.

But I don’t even know how to begin with really looking at this situation I took a picture of, there’s so much going on. Its a cartoon of some futuristic rhomboid printed on an info box/viewing platform which is itself nothing more than glorified scaffolding wrapped in vinyl tarpaulins. The pavilion being represented on the pavilion is in direct contradiction to the project that will in fact be built on this site, though its depiction has been done in such a silly way that it seems to indicate a certain patronizing attitude of those powers that be. And that, I think is it, I get it. This whole thing is just so cheap, not only in how a massive cultural center has been conceived, but also in how another has been destroyed, as well as in how a temporary pavilion has been constructed, not to mention in how that very entity of the information box itself has been not only degraded but also mocked. Way back when the design of such a pavilion was seen as an opportunity to give some hot young architecture office to chance to get out there and mix it up – like in the case of Schneider and Schumacher on Potsdamer Platz. Here such an opportunity has not only been denied but also cynically derided, and yeah, its kinda funny, ha ha.

Then my eye wanders to the other picture, printed around the corner, and I start to feel the heebee jeebees all over again.