Thursday, 6 January 2011


Wendelien van Oldenborgh interpretation of the exhibition display at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), 1968, designed by Lina Bo Bardi, Installation views Van Abbemuseum, 2010.

Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), 1968. Designed by Lina Bo Bardi.

Last October I received an email from Wendelien van Oldenborgh (reproduced below), inviting me to participate in the 'Lina Bo Bardi Fan Day'. I was already aware of Wendelien's work through her film 'Maurits Script' and her website 'A Certain Brazilianness' and being a Lina Bo Bardi fan, was immediately intrigued and fascinated by her invitation. Unfortunately I was in New York the day the fan day happened and I couldn't attend, which I would have loved. Here are some pictures and texts on Wendelin's amazing project.


Dear Pablo,

Your mail was given to me by Emily Pethick, who became a good friend after we had collaborated on a production of mine for Casco, a space she was running for some years in the Netherlands. I have a memory of being introduced to you by Emily in Kassel in 2007 in a room of the Fridericianum with a (Brazil-based) work of Alejandra Reira, but I may be wrong.

At the moment I have a work in the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven with the title Lina Bo Bardi: the Didactic Room. This is a room, dedicated to the introduction of the formal and social languages of this significant architect through a reproduction of her glass panels which she designed for the collection in MASP, with a set of didactic panels - developed in collaboration with Grant Watson - on the back of each exhibited art work .(all works from the collection of van Abbe). This room is part of an exhibition, called Time Machines, a study of several museum models from the past, raising questions about the museum in the present and towards the the future...

In the frame of this work, I am organizing together with the van Abbemuseum a Lina Bo Bardi Fan Day, which I would like to see as an opportunity for a set of "high level" fans to get together and exchange thoughts, knowledge and experiences. Since I have visited your blog several times to enjoy your pictures of several exhibitions and your visit to the Salvador and other projects, I thought it would be very nice to have you there on the Fan Day, and would very much like to invite you. The official invitation will come from the van Abbemuseum, and will contain a few more practical details, but I hereby wanted to introduce myself and the idea, for you to get an insight into where this invitation might have originated.

In the most enjoyable case that you can and would like to make it over to Eindhoven for this day, on the 14th of November, (a Sunday) we can gladly support the trip and necessary accommodation.

Very much looking forward to your response,
I am sending best greetings



Lina Bo Bardi: The Didactic Room

Lina Bo Bardi: The Didactic Room brings forward two distinctive features from Lina Bo Bardi's practice, formal and free, and activates them in the context of the Van Abbemuseum. A sequence of three different installations on her famous glass panels is combined with an active program of relatively spontaneous activities, which will leave their residue on the surrounding walls. When Lina Bo Bardi presented the collection of MASP on glass she expressed the desire to free works of art from any established reading or judgement and gave space for new relations between them and the public. The panels on the back of the works in The Didactic Room, which in MASP showed her dedication to the didactic aspect of a museum, become a scripted, narrative space, generated along the duration of the exhibition. Combining the formal composition of the glass panels with the free space on the walls echo the inherent possibility in Lina Bo Bardi's work of joining opposites as well as her desire to offer space for what she calls "cultural citizenship, practised at its highest form".

The first installation is a choice of works from the collection of the van Abbemuseum, which have a relation to Lina Bo Bardi's thoughts and practice. The Didactic Panels, a first stage in the development of the 'script' around these relationships, are made in collaboration with Grant Watson.


Didactic Panels
Lina Bo Bardi’s famous glass easel hanging system for the Museum of Art Sao Paulo (MASP) was designed to enhance the experience of the viewer without determining it. A visitor could look at the work of art displayed on the front without mediation and then if they wanted refer to the label on the back. Bo Bardi believed that while the viewer should be able to encounter works of art in their own way, the museum also had a didactic function, and these labels included additional information in the form of images and texts. Made to the same scale as the artwork on the front the two were placed back to back so as not to impede the overall transparency of the installation.
For this reconstruction of the glass easel hanging system from the MASP, we have produced similar labels in the form of didactic panels. The only difference being that here the information has only a tangential relationship to the work on the front. Instead we have used this space to explore a number of topics relating to the life and work of Lina Bo Bardi including: nature in architecture, Surrealism, Dada, eroticism, labour, collecting, violence, decolonization and public space. We have used a method similar to that of pinning information onto a notice board, inspired by the collages that she used in order to develop her ideas. This has allowed diverse material to come together with a degree of license, combining a reasoned and pedagogical approach with one that is associative and playful.

Each didactic panel includes elements of a ‘script’ in development and a short text relating to the work on the front produced by the Van Abbemuseum. We have also texts from Walter Benjamin, Antonio Negri, Hannah Arendt, Guy Brett, Leo Bersani, Guy Debord and Lina Bo Bardi. Mixed with images of textiles, Company Paintings and works by artists including Rasheed Araeen, KG Subramanyan, Sheela Gowda, Reba Hore and Hélio Oiticica, as well as Bo Bardi’s exhibition displays, collected objects, theatre productions, events, architecture, interiors, drawings and collages.

Two works appear without didactic panels. These are the untitled photogram of Man Ray from around 1922 and Joseph Beuys: Vorbereitung vor Betreten der Tate Gallery ("Wie Knochen entstehen" from the series: Words Which Can Hear), 1970. The two are works from the collection that can be viewed from both sides. One didactic panel comes as a reference without a work on the front. This is Glauber Rocha’s film Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol, 1964, which Lina Bo Bardi has collaborated on. It is projected onto one of the glass easels and makes use of its transparency to be viewed from both sides.

Wendelien van Oldenborgh and Grant Watson

visit the Van Abbemuseum's 'Time Machines Reloaded' exhibition here

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