David Adjaye

Artforum International, November 2005 | Go to article overview

David Adjaye


David Adjaye is a London-based architect. He is currently working on buildings for inIVA/Autograph and the Bernie Grant Centre, both in London, and for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver. In January, Whitechapel Art Gallery will host "David Adjaye: Making Public Buildings," the first exhibition focusing on his studio's work.

1 AI WEIWEI, HOUSE AND STUDIO, BEIJING In a Beijing suburb, amongst a series of factory complexes stands an extraordinary domestic structure designed in 1999 by artist Ai Weiwei. You first enter a large garden courtyard via a simple gate; once inside, there is no house to be seen, just a series of contemporary, Miesian yet distinctly Chinese-inspired gray brick walls that define the entry beyond which one would find side passages to a home and studio. You are instantly reminded of the houtons of traditional Beijing and fantastic Chinese gardens. (Here, a courtyard garden has a collection of Ai's sculptures.) When you cross the house's threshold, you are immediately brought into a large, double-height space with Ming-dynasty furniture that looks so modern you would think Donald Judd had designed it. The materials of the building are ordinary brick and concrete but, even though this sounds austere, the structure has the most intimate and accommodating ambience. A masterwork.

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2 WANGECHI MUTU This past summer, Mutu's exhibition at the Miami Art Museum--her first museum solo--featured the full repertoire of her art production. At the entrance, one was confronted by the beautiful video piece Amazing Grace, 2005, a surreal narrative in which one sees a figure moving through a watery landscape. Behind this projection were her trademark suspended bottles, whose excreted deposits of red wine mixed with salt water pooled on the gallery floor, as well as her amazing portraits and drawings of spheres. Such work invariably elicits a range of emotions, from uneasiness to romance, making Mutu an artist to watch.

3 HINZERT MUSEUM AND DOCUMENT CENTRE, GERMANY In the middle of an old German agricultural landscape, a strange new creature has been placed: Nikolaus Hirsch's Document Centre, which opens next month. This extraordinary project's goal was to make an inherently structural building wherein what you see is what you get. Cor-Ten steel triangles welded together create a structural, tapering, vaulted space to house the museum, which focuses on the history of the Hinzert concentration camp. While the building gives a sense of this tragic past, it also looks to the future by powering its electricity and air conditioning through an intelligent set of environmental systems.

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4 JONATHAN MEESE If you get a chance to see Jonathan Meese perform, don't miss it. I caught his performance in Cheonan, South Korea, at the Arario Gallery, where Meese baffled and delighted Korean art lovers with his improvisatory painting and shamanlike monologue deconstructing history, philosophy, and religion.

5 "PETER DOIG: STUDIOFILMCLUB," KUNSTHALLE ZURICH This fall, the film club Doig launched in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 2003 was transported to Switzerland--a must-see that not only featured exquisite oil-on-paper drawings by the artist of his favorite film posters but also screenings of films selected with his friend Che Lovelace. …

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