Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan, NY , New York, United States
From: 4 May 2012
Until: 7 May 2012
New York architects of the moment Solid Objectives – Idenburg Liu (SO-IL), has created the structure for the first New York Frieze Art Fair which starts next week. Since the first show in the UK in 2003, Frieze's temporary structure has been integral to organisers Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp's vision for the fair - and a part of its success.
Brooklyn-based SO-IL is a young firm, founded in 2008 by husband and wife team Florian Idenburg and Jing Liu. It's already won a bunch of prestigious commissions and awards and kudos, not least for its recent Pole Dance installation consisting of 100 flexible fibre glass rods in Long Island City. We asked the practice's Jing Liu what visitors can expect at Frieze which runs on Randall's Island from May 4-7.
"The Frieze tent is the largest tent of this system ever built in the US," she told us. "It is highly visible from Manhattan across the river, from the airplanes landing in New York and from the regional trains. We made slightly customised sections with the standard elements that took on some curvature, to make the otherwise straight tent into a supple meandering shape along the waterfront. We also provided restaurants, cafes and rest areas in these sections and opened the view towards the outside with glass walls. They offered connections to the outside in what is otherwise often an internalised fair experience.
How did you accomodate the practical needs of the Fair itself?
For its size, there are a lot of infrastructure and utilities needed for the support. They are often lined up along the tents on all sides – a very ugly sight. So we used the cavity under the tent floor to service the tent, therefore pushing all trailers to the back side of the tent, leaving the front side of the tent clean and pleasant to walk along, as well as to see from a distance. New York in May is one of the brightest cities we know of!
You’ve created both temporary and permanent structures. What are the differences in designing for the two?
With temporary structures, often one has to use standardized, rental elements – especially for a structure of this size. So the challenge is to rethink the ways they are used to arrive at an unexpected, unconventional result.
In addition to working with Frieze you’ve also worked with the Whitney, MoMA PS1, and the Guggenheim. You seem to have the landscape of the New York art scene pretty much sewn up!
New York’s architectural history is strongly intertwined with that of the arts, and although its legacy has influenced artists over time, generally one can say that architecture is viewed as in service of the arts at this moment in New York. At the same time architecture is an autonomous discipline, which operates very differently from the arts. As a young practice here, we are fortunate to be able to explore a range of ideas through our work that relate to issues at stake also in the arts. We believe that architecture plays a different but critical role in shaping ideas within our culture and society. This is probably why art institutions and individuals working in the arts take interest in our work.
You have projects in China, Bahrain, Belgium, the Netherlands, South Korea. How do you adapt your practice to each location?
Our practice does not necessarily adapt its approach depending on the location we operate in, but we have a deep desire to understand culture. Curiosity and an exploratory attitude are universally productive attributes. Because of our diverse backgrounds and interests we enjoy operating in a range of different conditions. Our pleasure lies in understanding the clichés vis-a-vis the subtle differences between these localities in a seemingly flat, globalised world. We try to create multiplicities - frameworks that allow for a variety of readings. Through abstraction and ambiguity we try to stimulate a conversation. Within this we certainly take a position – we are not satisfied with merely offering a platform. In that sense the participants in our participatory work initially are mere puppets – with the hope some leave infused."
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