Sunday, 16 September 2012


Lina Bo Bardi's glass house, receiving visitors after many years of being closed to the public

Gilbert and George being themselves being live sculptures

Alexander Calder's drawings of Pietro Bardi and Lina Bo-Bardi

Gilbert and George inside Lina Bo Bardi's glass house

proposal for new bookshelves for Lina Bo Bardi's library by SANAA

Gilbert and George inside Lina Bo Bardi's glass house

Lina's dining room

Cildo Meireles smell of coffee and audio piece that evokes an anecdote told by frequent visitors to the Bo Bardi home. Apparently, when guests were gathered around the fireplace and the conversation headed toward political/ideological themes, and Lina started to express her socialist ideologies, Mr. Bardi would interrupt the conversation and say: “Lina, va fare un caffè” (Lina, go make some coffee).

Waltercio Caldas removal of the furniture of Lina's bedroom and its substitution for a work of his from 1977 when Pietro Bardi invited him to exhibit at MASP,  with it creating a continuously reflected and multiplied space. Waltercio, could you have found another better place in the house for this work?

Lina and Pietro's bedroom before Waltercio Caldas' temporary intervention

Yuko Hasegawa, Mario Testino, Hans Ulrich Obrist

Pablo Accinelli photographing details at Lina's house

Paulo Mendes da Rocha audio piece, his memories of Lina Bo Bardi

chairs designed by Lina Bo Bardi and musical instruments waiting for Cinthia Marcelle's performance to happen

the garden underneath the house waiting for the Novo Museo Tropical to arrive

exhibition title by Douglas Gordon

The Insides are on the Outside.
O interior está no exterior
Hans Ulrich Obrist

With its harmonies of light and geometry, density and apparent weightlessness, Casa de Vidro [Glass House], by Lina Bo Bardi (Rome, Italy, 1914 – São Paulo, Brazil, 1992) in Morumbi, São Paulo, is one of the most beautiful of all architect’s homes. It is also, certainly, one of the most important works of 20th-century Latin American architecture, forging ideas and motifs that would later be extended and reworked in projects as MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo (1957–1968), along the Avenida Paulista, and the SESC Fábrica da Pompeia (1977), a huge multidisciplinary complex, on the site of an old factory. Casa de Vidro was completed in 1951, the year of Bo Bardi’s naturalisation as a Brazilian, roughly five years after her relocation from a devastated Italy. Lina Bo once wrote, following the war, that ‘in Europe man’s house is now rubble’1. But just as much as the ruin allegorises loss, Casa de Vidro looks out onto its forest surrounds with a defiant sense of optimism, symbolising rebirth and renewal. It seems to be both grounded within and floating above its environment, combining a stability and lightness similar to that which Bardi achieved with the freestanding space in MASP and her glass panes, designed to display artworks in the Museum.

This exhibition is conceived as an homage to both the building and its creator, as well as an assertion of the ongoing relevance of Casa de Vidro as a toolbox for architectural and visual practice in the present. Indeed, the diversity of artists presenting works in the show is testament to the enduring fascination that Lina Bo Bardi’s work continues to hold today. In my discussions with artists, architects, and curators in the many years since Cildo Meireles first introduced me to Lina Bo’s work, I have been struck by the frequency with which she is cited as a decisive influence on practices of very different kinds.

The works in the exhibition have been commissioned especially for the site, and the participating artists and architects address various aspects of the building’s locality as well as its domestic function and scale, engaging in a dialogue with both the building’s form and the legacy of Lina herself. A number of exhibitors have personal links to the architect: besides creating many set designs and renovating the Teatro Oficina (1984) for the great theatre director Zé Celso [Martinez Corrêa], Lina Bo was contemporary to Paulo Mendes da Rocha. From the late 1950s, both were key figures of the so-called “Escola Paulista” [Paulista School] of Brazilian architecture. Other participants never met the architect, but nonetheless have a clear creative connection to her work: Kazuyo Sejima of SANAA, for instance, included a prominent display of Lina Bo’s designs in her Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010.

Participants have been free to explore and work with any aspect of the site, from the building itself to the trees in the garden, as well as the archive and collection of Lina Bo and Pietro Maria Bardi, her husband and respected art critic and art historian. The works in show here tell stories, revealing aspects of the house and its history that are invisible to the naked eye and, in the setting of Bardi’s residence, create a Gesamtkunstwerk of the building. Through the exhibition of individual works within the house, the garden, and the studio, the temporary reconfiguration of Casa de Vidro itself emerges as the unifying focus of the exhibition as a whole.

I have curated a number of exhibitions in domestic spaces that have since become ‘house-museums’, as a way into dealing with the idea of the exhibition as something that not only occupies space, but as an event occurring in time. This all began with my very first exhibition, The Kitchen Show, curated in my kitchen in 1991 at the suggestion of Christian Boltanski and Fischli/Weiss. Most often, the time of museums and Kunsthalles is undifferentiated—a kind of neutral suspension of the everyday time of the world outside. The time of the home, on the other hand, is highly individual and nontransferable. By definition, domestic space is human-scaled.

In the two decades since The Kitchen Show, alongside curating large-scale exhibitions, I have been continually drawn to the intimate scale of domestic and quasi-domestic spaces precisely as an antidote to the art world’s relentless drive to ‘go large’. In a succession of exhibition projects, I have tried to recover something of the intimacy of the 1991 show, and the present exhibition sits very much within this lineage. This show has been envisaged as both a continuation and a development of the ‘house-museum’ model, following on from previous exhibitions that I have organised at the Huerta de San Vicente, home of the poet Federico García Lorca in Granada, 2007–2008; the UNESCO World Heritage Site Casa Luis Barragán in Mexico City, 2002–2003; the Sir John Soane Museum in London, 1999–2000; and the Nietzsche Haus in Sils Maria, Switzerland, 1992, a solo show by Gerhard Richter. Each of these sites has a deep resonance with an influential cultural figure, and today Casa de Vidro pays testament to its creator, Lina Bo Bardi.

In particular, the exhibition at Casa de Vidro responds to and develops themes explored in the most recent of these exhibitions, Everstill-Siempretodavía at the Lorca House. On that occasion, many site- and time-specific works examined the domestic sphere as a link between the architecture and the figure of the former occupant in a spirit of homage. As with the earlier exhibition, this show has been the result of an intensive period of research.

Participants have been invited to immerse themselves in Lina Bo Bardi’s world—the house itself as well as its environs—in order to establish intimate relationships with this singularly important figure. As the offices of the Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi, the building houses part of her and her husband’s collection of Brazilian art and artefacts. Since 2006, the Instituto is closed to the public. With the building’s reopening, it has been our aim to open up the world of the Bardis to a new audience, and to a new historical situation, in order that their vision may once again play a part in the production of reality.

The Prelude
Everstill-Siempretodavía was underscored and presented to the public in two phases. The artists and artworks involved vary from one phase to the next. The entire project could be viewed as a complex organic system with feedback loops or as a dynamic learning machine. As Lorca’s experience, the exhibition at Casa de Vidro will be developed in phases, starting with the Prelude, on September 5, 2012, showcasing interventions by Alexander Calder, Cildo Meireles, Cinthia Marcelle, Douglas Gordon, Gilbert & George, Paulo Mendes da Rocha, SANAA, and Waltercio Caldas. The second phase takes place in November, and adds one more group of works; the final phase will occur in March 2013, when the exhibition will feature the works of all the participants. The Insides Are on the Outsides | O interior está no exterior project, whose title is the work by Douglas Gordon, will remain open until May 2013.

During the Prelude, under the pilotis or the freestanding space of the house, visitors can listen to a monologue by the architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha, in which he evoked Lina Bo Bardi’s astonishment by her arrival upon a foreign land—Brazil—in the 1940s, ’50s and over the time. It’s a poetical reconstruction of her arrival—a creative clash with the country’s culture and geography. Inside Casa de Vidro there are two drawings of Lina Bo and Pietro Maria Bardi made by Alexander Calder in 1948— more specifically on the occasion of his first visit to Brazil invited by Bardi to accomplish his exhibition in the country. Calder established a personal relationship both with Lina and Bardi and his works used to be part of their collection at Casa de Vidro. In the 1970s, P.M. Bardi invited artist Waltercio Caldas to do a show at MASP. Originally conceived for the Museum, the installation in the master bedroom of Casa de Vidro creates an infinite space which captures the garden outside expanding the house—or the room—beyond itself. Cildo Meireles created a multisensory piece that evokes an anecdote told by frequent visitors to the Bo Bardi home. Apparently, every time there was a political argument, Mr. Bardi would say: “Lina, va fare un caffè” (Lina, go make some coffee), putting an end to the disagreement before it even began. As living sculptures, the artists Gilbert & George spent a day at Casa de Vidro, and the photographic documentation was turned into postcards that are being distributed to the visitors. Starting from a large research in Lina Bo and Pietro Bardi’s vinyl records collection, Cinthia Marcelle put together an orchestra that plays diverse songs creating a polyphonic soundtrack for the house. The performance happens at different moments of the day and was recorded in a vinyl that from now on will also be a part of the collection. Finally, as a special project, the architecture studio SANAA—founded by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa—was invited to develop a new set of furniture for the library space and current offices of Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi, inspired by its original design.

This project could only be accomplished by the vision of Isabela Mora, producer of the exhibition, who accompanied me on previous projects as Barragán and Lorca. Many thanks to Anna Carboncini and Eugênia Gorini, directors of the Instituto Lina Bo e P.M. Bardi for hosting the project and for their collaboration. Deep thanks to Sônia Guarita do Amaral for her support and enthusiasm, and to Professor Renato Anelli for his input. Many thanks also to Adelaide D’Esposito and all the team at the Instituto for mediating with the dedicated curatorial team, Guilherme Wisnik, Luisa Duarte, and Luiza Proença. Also to Luis Felipe Abbud for coor- dinating SANAA’s project. Very special thanks to Ana Varella for coordinating the entire project. I’m deeply grateful to Isabella Prata for leading the Comitê de Apoio since the beginning; to the whole team at Base7, our executive producers, and especially to Ricardo Ribenboim, Arnaldo Spindel, and Renata Rödel. To Ricardo Sardenberg for his wise advices; to Augusto Malzoni for his great ideas; to Danilo Santos de Miranda and Áurea Leszczynski Vieira for believing in the project and becoming the first collaborators; and to Sam Keller for being an unconditional supporter. I especially would like to thank for their institutional support Bernardo Paz, Jochen Volz, and Rodrigo Moura from Inhotim; Staffan Ahrenberg at Cahiers d’Art; the Fondation Beyeler; Luiz Coradazzi and Richard Riley from the British Council; and Joël Giraud from the Consulat General de France in São Paulo. To Gustavo Rosa de Moura and Anna Lena Vaney for directing and producing the feature film of the project; to Bruno Lara and Cecilia Gandarias (This Side Up) for their wonderful graphic design, and to Eduardo Ortega and Luis Asín for their great images. This project would have never happened without the help of Jeanete and Bruno Musatti, Idel Arcuschin, Susana & Ricardo Steinbruch, Alessandra d’Aloia, Márcia Fortes, Alexandre Gabriel, Cristiana Thompson, Luisa Strina, Eduardo Leme, Camila Siqueira, Felipe Dmab, Pedro Mendes, Matthew Wood, Marcy Junqueira, Noemi Blager, and Pablo León de la Barra. The Insides Are on the Outside | O interior está no exterior exhibition would not exist without all the participating artists and architects.

Visit Hans Ulrich Obrist's 2002 exhibition at Casa Luis Barragan 10 years ago here and the 2008 exhibition at Lorca's house here.

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