THE EXHIBITION AS A PROJECT Review

by Graham Baldwin, AA 5th Year
(originally published in AArchitecture 19)

31 May 2013
AA Gallery, London

 

2 walls, 11 rectangular boxes is a brief description of the objects present in the ‘11 Projects’ exhibition, which opened in late-February this year.

 

The exhibition presented a catalogue of Dogma’s oeuvre and showcased eleven projects produced since 2002. Each one possessed an archetype with a decisive form for confronting the city. The projects on display expanded upon a historical and theoretical framework, providing knowledge for understanding the exhibition as a whole. The programmatic interventions span from large-scale urban planning and infrastructural projects, to spaces of production and housing, and to speculative research projects. To coincide with the exhibition, Dogma co-founder Pier Vittorio Aureli held a lecture on the studio. A book was also produced to accompany the material of the exhibition, and to provide a writing platform for a selection of essays by Pier Vittorio Aureli and Dogma’s other co-founder, Martino Tattara. Brett Steele, and Gabriele Mastrigli also contributed texts.

 

My sober description of the exhibition’s contents through both quantitative and qualitative means looks beyond the collection of work presented and instead questions the exhibition as a project of itself. On the southern wall are eleven large drawings that encapsulate the essence of each project through the plan, as a productive tour-de-force. Each drawing is composed with the utmost precision, rendering the absolute, and forcing the observer to contemplate the composition in its entirety. Running parallel to these drawings sit eleven platforms in linear array, supplementing the content of the tableaus in comprehensive indexes. These flatten the suspense produced in the larger drawings into immediately accessible, visually assuring and theoretically complete, printed books. On the northern wall hangs a constellation of beautiful hand drawings that documents further evidence of formal investigation. These three bands provide different mediums for reading the work, which can be read in parts or together as a whole.

By presenting Dogma’s projects over three mediums, the work becomes immediately visible – providing the observer with exactly what he wants to see. The large drawings or tableaus produce adequate distance for understanding each project, but the book collapses this distance into catalogue form, standardising its reading, and accommodating any possibility of question. If this symmetrical structure is what the exhibition is meant to facilitate, then the exhibition remains an illustrative representation of Dogma’s work instead of a productive one. But if this exacting accommodation is intentional on a productive level, then the visible urgency critiques the observer by reducing him to the uniform mediums of distraction and appearance, which Dogma’s ethos so decisively challenges. In this reading, the exhibition becomes a productive form of representation – through what is not presented, through the bare, primitive forms that construct the exhibition itself.

Dogma Exhibition in the AA Gallery
Image Credit: Tommaso Franzolini

 

For more information:

Dogma exhibition

Dogma practice website

Dogma: 11 Projects book

Dogma: 11 Projects (London, 2013), 120pp, paperback, £25 is available to buy from the AA Bookshop and online from AA Publications.