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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Exhibition and Catalog of the Moment

[Marta Herford (2005) designed by Frank Gehry]

52 Weeks, 52 Cities: Photographies by Iwan Baan is on display at Marta Herford in Germany until February 16. Per Marta Herford, "Iwan Baan takes the viewer on a one-year photographic journey around the world – always on the lookout for ingenious homes in unexpected places and outstanding construction projects." Accompanying the exhibition is a catalog published by Kehrer:

As the cover indicates, the book has some recent buildings by big names (SANAA's Louvre Lens graces the cover), but not necessarily photos with blue skies, perfect framing, and the other perfectionist traits people associate with architectural photography. It also shows places that do not exhibit the hand of the architect, if you will, but are just as fascinating, if not more so:

[Allahabad, India: Kumbh Mela]

In a sense, Baan is like a ping pong ball, veering back and forth between bespoke luxury starchitecture:

[East Lansing, Michigan, USA: Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum by Zaha Hadid]

and vernacular, and often informal, conditions of living:

[Cairo, Egypt: Zabaleen community]

As Marta Herford describes the exhibition (and therefore the catalog, to a degree): "The exhibition features 52 photographs from last year [2012] accompanied by personally spoken commentaries by the photographer. These are sensitive encounters with everyday and extraordinary places all over the globe which Baan has put together to form an engaged commentary on human living and survival strategies. His documentation, for example, of a 45-story, uncompleted skyscraper in Caracas occupied by around 750 families who are living 'extra-legally' in a 'vertical slum' has become one of his best known projects. Here and elsewhere the boundaries between architecture documentation and the interpretation of social living spaces become blurred."

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