Contemplating the Void

   Since its opening in 1959, the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Guggenheim building has served as an inspiration for invention, challenging artists and architects to react to its eccentric, organic design. The central void of the rotunda has elicited many unique responses over the years, which have been manifested in both site-specific solo shows and memorable exhibition designs. For the building’s 50th anniversary, the Guggenheim Museum invited more than two hundred artists, architects, and designers to imagine their dream interventions in the space for the exhibition Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum. Organized by Nancy Spector, Chief Curator, and David van der Leer, Assistant Curator for Architecture and Design, the exhibition will feature renderings of these visionary projects in a salon-style installation that will emphasize the rich and diverse range of the proposals received.
   Contemplating the Void: Interventions in the Guggenheim Museum will be on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum from February 12 to April 28, 2010.
   Submissions were received from all over the world from a wide range of artists, designers, and architects, including emerging as well as established practitioners. Among the many works in the exhibition are projects by artists such as Alice Aycock, FAKE DESIGN (Ai Weiwei), Anish Kapoor, Sarah Morris, Wangechi Mutu, Mike Nelson, Paul Pfeiffer, Doris Salcedo, Lawrence Weiner, and Rachel Whiteread; designers such as Fernando and Humberto Campana, Martí Guixé, Joris Laarman Studio, and Studio Job; and architects such as Álvaro Siza Vieira Arquitecto, BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), Greg Lynn FORM, junya.ishigami +associates, MVRDV, N55, Philippe Rahm, Snøhetta, Studio Daniel Libeskind, Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects, and West 8. In addition to the exhibition in the Thannhauser and Annex Level 4 galleries, Contemplating the Void will be accompanied by a comprehensive exhibition Web site, which will document each submission and feature introductory essays texts by Nancy Spector and David van der Leer.
osa is among the invited ~200 artists, designers and architects of the exhibition.



The void is the central element of the Guggenheim Museum.
The impressions of this gigantically „empty“ space and the view to the surrounding spiralling ramps leave by far the greatest impact on the visitor.
Does this spatial impression support the exhibited artwork or is it actually a conflicting, the art overwhelming element? Most of the visitors rather visit the building than the displayed art work.

This led us to the question of how will people react if the void would be reversed or filled in. Will they be heavily disappointed not to be able to enjoy the centre space? Or will the alteration trigger a totally different spatial transformation which also attracts the visitor?

Our proposal for the temporary transformation is to detract this immediate perception of the void. How can we take away this “empty” space?
Another very obvious but different element is part of the proposal. The merchandising of cultural institutions is growing more and more and in the case of the Guggenheim it has been developed to a level where the iconic building becomes an object used for almost any possible product and the obvious one is the coffee cup.
For our proposal it is very important but also disconcerting to see how the “unique” piece of architecture becomes a repetitive product which at the same time also supports the institution by additional funding which means it also can evolve further.
The void will be completely filled with coffee which means the space is no longer experienced as such, only the first few centimetres can be seen in depth.

The title macchiato is the synonym for coffee as well as it means stained which one could argue happens to this fantastic building of Frank Lloyd Wright by literally filling coffee into the real space and also using it for the banal commercial use.
In reality we are fixing a skin such as transparent ETFE to the balustrades which will be sealed at the bottom and the top of the building. Then the internal space will be filled with a dark black and brown coloured ultra-light, pseudo-fluidic material which will show the different layers of a macchiato. Additionally the scent of fresh coffee beans will be poured into the building to stimulate the visitor’s senses.
The temporary removal of the void will be a powerful experience which somehow dictates a restriction to the visitor which results in an enormous urge to finally see the void again after its removal.
The building finally will be recharged with its real value.


osa/Guggenheim/Contemplating the Void/Macchiato

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If you happen to be in New York from February 12 to April 28, 2010, we would like to recomment the exhibition "Contemplating the Void" at the Guggenheim Museum.

/////// Exhibition at the Gugenheim, New York City //// Contemplating the Void //// For the building’s 50th anniversary, the Guggenheim Museum invited more than two hundred artists, architects, and designers from all over the world. ////

//// Artists like: Alice Aycock // FAKE DESIGN (Ai Weiwei) // Anish Kapoor // Sarah Morris // Pipilotti Rist // Wangechi Mutu // Mike Nelson // Paul Pfeiffer // Doris Salcedo // Lawrence Weiner // and Rachel Whiteread

//// designers such as Fernando and Humberto Campana // Martí Guixé // Joris Laarman Studio // and Studio Job

//// and architects such as Álvaro Siza Vieira Arquitecto // Lebbeus Woods // BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) // Greg Lynn FORM // Jürgen Mayer H. // junya.ishigami+associates // MVRDV // N55 // Philippe Rahm // Snøhetta // Studio Daniel Libeskind // Toyo Ito & Associates Architects // UNStudio (Ben van Berkel) // Odile Decq Benoît Cornette Architects and Planners // Zaha Hadid Architects // West 8 // LOT-EK // and the office for subversive architecture (osa) (....) ////////////