Junya Ishigami: Architecture as Air @ The Curve – Barbican

Japanese architect Junya Ishigami is showcasing a sample of his work at Barbican’s Curve. Ishigami focuses on the aesthetics of minimalism and plays with perception, materials and scale combining both art and architecture. The produce is an almost invisible 300g installation of architecture, which is gradually revealed as one starts exploring the gallery space.

For his first installation in the UK, Junya Ishigami has conceived a new structure built in response to The Curve’s unique space, which he describes as “melting endlessly into space”. The structure comprises of a single curved line of delicate fifty three 3.8 metre high and 0.9mm thin columns (hand-rolled from carbon-fibre sheet) running from floor to ceiling covering the entire length of the gallery. These columns appear to be held in place by air and atmosphere alone. The 15 visitors admitted at any given time can only distinguish the structural components of the installation only on close inspection. The structure is a fascinating piece of engineering built with the help of Jun Sato Structural Engineers. “I want to make a new scale of architecture, a natural scale, an elemental scale” explains Junya Ishigami and he adds “in nature structure and space are not divided. Air is space but it also has a structure. But architecture divides these things.”

This work is a development of Ishigami’s experimental installation ‘Architecture as air: study for château la coste’, which was first shown at the 12th Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2010 and collapsed almost as soon as it was built, following an accident with a wondering cat. Little was left but a simple apology note stating “Scusate, si è rotto. I’m sorry It’s broken”. Nevertheless the structure won the Golden Lion for best project.

Junya Ishigami is an architect but his works certainly have a strong artistic element and value. He doesn’t just build but he dreams in an almost romantic way and demonstrates a keen interest in nature and its phenomena. He flirts with and challenges the laws of gravity. He displays a strong ability to create limitless and boundless structures and trick our eyes with optical illusions. ‘Architecture as Air’ is so transparent that a camera is almost unable to capture the microscopic threads, a clear sign of Ishigami’s successful achievement to dissolve the boundaries of space and architecture. Viewers now have the chance to see what they couldn’t actually see in Venice last year.
|Kostas Prapoglou