On View — eldo curates Philippe Rahm

Posted on May 7th, 2018 at 1:00 pm by

Joining el dorado in June 2018, Hesse and our curatorial team continue to build upon our history of working with artists, arts organizations, and expanding the agency of artists in the public realm. Before joining el dorado, Hesse was Vice President of Exhibitions and Public Programs at San Francisco Art Institute. As part of our expanded practice model, he has continued to curate exhibitions and projects for San Francisco Art Institute’s Walter McBean Galleries and newly opened Fort Mason Campus.

Exhibitions are one form of el dorado’s growing curatorial practice. We are also currently working on major public art initiatives and large scale planning efforts — for which artists and cross-disciplinary teams play catalytic roles — in Los Angeles; San Francisco; Minneapolis; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; St Petersburgh, Russia; and, of course, in Kansas City. Stay tuned for more on these projects.

Currently on view through May 19 at the Walter McBean Galleries at SFAI is architect Philippe Rahm’s exhibition The Anthropocene Style. Curated by Hesse and organized by the incredible teams at SFAI, swissnex San Francisco, and Philippe Rahm Architectes, the exhibition asks two charged questions:

Are architects responsible for climate change?
Is our comfort within buildings negating our future on earth?

Philippe Rahm: The Anthropocene Style is the first exhibition in the United States of internationally renowned Paris-based Swiss artist and architect Philippe Rahm, who is known for producing groundbreaking work at the intersection of climate, architecture, and physiological space. The newly commissioned exhibition manifests Rahm’s ideas surrounding the urgency of climate change through an architecture and design process that takes climate, atmosphere, and physiology as its primary material.

Citing evidence that construction and maintenance of buildings account for nearly 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, Rahm offers a novel set of questions around aesthetic choice:

By what process does an architect or designer choose a material?
What are the criteria for choosing one material over another, one color over another?

In the context of accelerating climate change, Rahm argues that properties such as effusivity, emissivity, conductivity, and reflectivity should guide these decisions. This development inspired Rahm to coin the term Anthropocene Style, referring to a new decorative style specific to our aesthetic and environmental era.

The exhibition is a testing ground for Rahm’s experimental new interior design ‘fabrics’: emissive tapestries, effusive carpeting, and spectral light calibrated to interact with human body heat depending on external temperatures. Through a series of spatial and physiological audience experiences involving his fabric prototypes, pre-recorded lectures, and reading materials, The Anthropocene Style models a design that integrates these materials into interior architecture. As a contrast to the minimalist “white cube” style of the later twentieth century and the Walter McBean Galleries, Rahm argues that conventional Modern architecture has accelerated global warming and is unsustainable for the future because of its reliance on artificial heating and cooling systems, which rely heavily on carbon based fuel sources.

In his statement about the exhibition, the he says:

“Climate change is forcing us to rethink architecture radically, to shift our focus away from a purely visual and functional approach towards one that is more sensitive, more attentive to the invisible, climate-related aspects of space. Might not climate be a new architectural language, a language for architecture rethought with meteorology in mind? Between the infinitely small scale of the physiological and the infinitely vast scale of the meteorological, architecture must build sensual exchanges between body and space and invent new approaches capable of making long-term changes to the form and the way we will inhabit buildings tomorrow.”

As this exhibition is a forum and idea exchange, Hesse also recently moderated a symposium at SFAI titled The Anthropocene Style | Architecture, Urgency, and Climate Change. This festival of ideas convened artists, critics, and theorists proposing alternate futures for materials, the built environment, and human longevity on this planet. Speakers and participants included Martino Stierli, Philippe Rahm, Janette Kim, David Gissen, Philip Ross, Maria Paz Gutierrez, Katie Hood Morgan, and Nicola Ruffo.

This project represents a collective curatorial commitment to addressing issues of vital concern to our community and the world, through the imaginations and investigations of artists. We believe this exhibition and Rahm’s practice is at the vanguard of thinking about the future of humanity in an era of rapid climate change. As el dorado continues to investigate the built environment through a curatorial lense, Philippe’s work pushes us to expansively envision art, architecture, and the public realm in the Anthropocene.  

Philippe Rahm: The Anthropocene Style continues through May 19, 2018 at the San Francisco Art Institute’s Walter McBean Galleries. More at: www.sfai.edu

Photos: Marco David