architecture for dictators

Periodically Domus deals with architecture in Asia that goes beyond the mind-numbing childishness of Shanghai=good!!! and manages to make the art of buildings relevant, which is why I’ve been on their mailing list.

Back in June, there was an article on Pyongyang, and also a call for ideas for the reconstruction of the Ryugyong Hotel. Architect Jan Kaplicky wrote a letter in response saying the article and call were North Korean Propaganda. All this culminated on September 30th in an open debate at the Serpentine Gallery.

Kaplicky and Boeri on Pyongyang: open debate at the Serpentine

The article on Pyongyang, published in Domus in June, examined the city’s involuntary status as a test-bed of the modernist dream, exposed as a totalitarian nightmare. They found a city conceived with breathtakingly literal references to the Western paradigms of the early 20th century, obsessively referential to the visionary architecture and town planning of Corbusier, Hilberseimer, Melnikov and Rudolph. A city “delineated by oversized, shopless roads in which citizens take on the appearance of extras on a movie set.”

In the same issue Domus launched a “call for ideas”for the reconstruction of the Ryugyong Hotel, a monolithic concrete pyramid that dominates Pyongyang’s skyline, as a way of opening up a crack in North Korea’s numbing isolation. It remains, however, a delicate topic, and not all interpreted Boeri’s article in the same way.

In September Domus saw the publication of an open letter from architect Jan Kaplicky of Future Sytems: “I always thought that your magazine was about architecture, design, beauty and people…I was shocked, horrified, angry and sad when Domus 882 June 2005 arrived. 22 pages and 3 covers full of North Korean propaganda.”

Should a dictator’s perversely visionary masterplan be examined and discussed in the pages of an international architecture magazine? Can an understanding of architecture’s most nightmarish distorsions, as well as its most beautiful incarnations, be of any use to us today?

On the 30th September (7 pm), Jan Kaplicky and Stefano Boeri meet for an open debate in the Serpentine Pavilion.
Invited speakers include: Amos Gitai, Scott Lash, Armin Linke, Deyan Sudjic, Brett Steele, Eyal Weizman, Julia Peyton-Jones.

London – Great Britain
Jan Kaplicky and Stefano Boeri debate Domus magazine initiative on North Korea
30.9.2005, h. 19
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

— Domus

Cunnilingus in North Korea

The empyre mailing list went spastic in the last couple of days with the pornographically titled Cunnilingus in North Korea. It all started with this email from Young-hae and Marc of YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES and pretty much went into the arse-licking gutter from there. One of the great moments in net-art for 2005.

We’re open to discuss anything with anybody — oh, except for sex, politics, money, ourselves, Internet technology, critical theory, including the global versus the local trans-anything, post-everything, deconstruction, nomadism, gender, C, C++, Maya, claymation, GATS, intellectual copyrights, and the latest North Korean test missile. Shoot.

— Young-hae and Marc