From February 24 to May 17, 2015 Museo ICO in Madrid will be showing EXPORT. Spanish Architecture Abroad, an exhibition on the Spanish practices taking place outside Spain. The exhibition attempts to describe Spain’s current situation of fleeting professionals under an analytical yet slightly optimistic point of view.
The exhibition, opening today, is curated by Madrid-based Mexican architect Edgar González, well known for his experience in communication and design, which is one of the high points of the exhibition. In opposition to the classical enumeration and display of specific works of architecture, the exhibition rearranges numbers, statistics and concrete data in order to reveal the modern-day meaning of “working abroad” as something much more complex than actual construction and design practice.
“To make a list of outstanding projects, and to display them as architectural objects with the corresponding grammar and semiotics would fail to reflect the dynamic state of a profession in a process of reformulation. A profession that is leaving behind traditional studio structures and replacing them with more current thinking and the more global outlook”, in words of the exhibition curator.
For this reason, the exhibition is divided into two differentiated areas to contrast what would traditionally be regarded as architectural practice to the contemporary protagonists of the ever more dynamic, decentralized field of architecture.
The first half of the exhibition proposes a tour through the achievements of young Spanish architects starting with the inauguration of the Yokohama International Port Terminal by Foreign Office Architecture in 2002, and finishing with the Rijskmuseum Amsterdam renovation works by Cruz & Ortiz in 2014. The ground floor gallery’s white wall, clad in a reticular display of magazine architecture images, serves as a background to represent the work carried out by Spanish professionals abroad in the last 12 years.
In contrast, the second half of the exhibition focuses on less tangible information -abstract data on where, how, and under which circumstances Spanish architects work abroad. Statistics and diagrams displayed on large retro-illuminated panels hanging from above seem to be the only source of light in an otherwise dark room with mirrored walls -as a sort of abstract space qualified for a more complex discussion. The display was designed in collaboration with spanish architect Manuel Ocaña.
Recognizing different work patterns (Insiders, Young achievers, Scholars, Healers and Outsiders) as well as the seemingly indirect yet still decisive agents (construction companies, retailing multinationals, publishing editors and large investors), Edgar González, aided by Spanish office “Taller de Casquería” have managed to create a comprehensive landscape of concepts that easily translate a complex national situation into a series of powerful images and visually compelling diagrams. The graphic design was carried out by 2×4, an American design office that has recently opened headquarters in Madrid, and who has previously worked for Prada and Rem Koolhaas, among others.
As quoted in the exhibition catalogue, “EXPORT does not attempt to be an exhaustive look at the key figures involved, but rather a reflection. An overview of several outstanding cases that enables the visitor to consider a number of issues, and to gain a little more insight into the current international scene.”
Along with the display, Museo ICO also commissioned the edition of the exhibition’s catalog, a book with over 130 pages comprising the results of the research carried out in the last months by Edgar González and his team of collaborators. Apart of the diagrams and infographics, arranged in fold-out pages, the book’s main content are six articles signed by renowned young Spanish architects, representing the six categories present in the exhibition, as well as an introduction piece by Edgar González himself, and an end note by Juan Herreros.
EXPORT. Spanish Architecture Aborad,
comissioned by Fundación ICO
curated by Edgar González
open from February 24, to May 17, 2015.
calle Zorrilla, 3
Images by ImagenSubliminal