A Spiral of Possibilities

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Published March 6, 2010

PAUL PFEIFFER’S PROPOSAL: NEW ROOF, BERLIN OLYMPIC STADIUM, 2009.COURTESY GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM

 

For its 50th anniversary, the Guggenheim asked almost 200 artists, designers and architects to imagine what they would do to fill or remake Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous voided structure. The pieces in “Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum are proposals for imagined, unbuilt installations that play on the museum’s space itself; they’re currently pinned up in one of the museum’s fourth floor galleries and on display through April 28.

While assistant curator David van der Leer says the Guggenheim does not plan to execute any of the proposals, it’s now possible to take home one home with you-or at least try to. The museum kicked off an online auction of pieces from “Contemplating the Void” with a preview event last weekend hosted by the museum’s Young Collector’s Council, a group of 21-to-40-year-old Guggenheim members whose fundraising supports acquisition of works by younger atists. Via a site set up on the charity equivalent of eBay, you can bid on poster-size pencil drawings and digital renderings by heavy-hitters like architect Zaha Hadid and artist Anish Kapoor.Kapoor’s intervention would suffuse the Guggenheim rotunda with billowing red dust; his site-specific steel Memory (2008), a rust-colored tumor-like sculpture never quite visible because of how closely it is squeezed into its enclosure–is also on view at the museum, through the end of the month. Los Angeles-design firm Ball Nogues Studio, with a Technicolor digital drawing, asks imagined future visitors to marvel at the museum as the “world’s largest pulled candy sculpture” And Brooklyn firm nARCHITECTS has drawn up the museum as a “Guggenheim Wobbling Gyroscope.”

Approximately 90% of the 193 pieces in the exhibition are up for auction. For the exhibition, the different pieces—which vary in size and media, from computer renderings to water color paintings to an helicopter-view photograph of the museum, with glitter on top—are arranged unframed, “like pin-up in architecture school,” says van der Leer, who co-curated with the Guggenheim’s chief curator, Nancy Spector. “We didn’t want to hang it too seriously.”

The sense of lightness can be seen in the work as well. Toshiko Mori’s “Soft Landing” proposes stringing the rotunda with nets so people could jump and fall in (hence, soft landing) or climb upwards. “[In] experiencing the void,” said Mori, “the idea is contemplating and experiencing the void physically.” Mori, one of several architects and artists in the exhibition on hand last night, brought her yoga teacher. The teacher also instructs a few other people that are in the exhibition, Mori said, and “she’s always telling us to contemplate the void!”

As to other themes, many of the artists and designers played with the Guggenheim’s signature spiral, or tried to fill its expanse with fluid (and in one case, Swiss chocolate). One artist, Doug Aitken, even imagined the spiral upended and worn as a dress.

THE AUCTION OF WORK FROM “CONTEMPLATING THE VOID: INTERVENTIONS IN THE GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM, IS ONLINE THROUGH MARCH 18. THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW THROUGH APRIL 28.