I went and had a look at the Go Away & Come Back Exhibition while it was on last week, and it was pretty good. There seemed to be an interesting mix of students, practitioners and academics who obviously all have different reasons for travelling, and therefore different motives of presentation. I liked the concept as a whole that going away from a place helps you to understand / appreciate it more. Although I did find the ‘Coming Back’ element of the presentation ‘weaker’ as I would have liked to see that relationship between what is learned, and how you create architecture once you’re ‘back’.
Saying that, there were some beautiful and thought-provoking pieces. My apologies I didn’t get any of the artists’ names : the place cards were really small and at their standard low height, were quite hard to read. So I have also gone with my own interpretations here, as I couldn’t always read the card, hope it’s vaguely what the artists were intending!
Anyway, on first entering there was a surround sound experience which showcased not only the visual impact of a place, but the audible nature too. I like this concept, that it’s a whole place, the sights, sounds, smells, feel that impacts you as visitor. This is a good lesson for understanding place, especially in our current lifestyle were we often snap a few pictures and go on to the next place. The action of actually stopping, appreciating, contemplating and understanding is an important one, that we probably don’t consider enough.
Some of the videos and slide shows in the next room read like home-style slide shows, and I think I missed how this related to an understanding of different places. There was a really well put together little stop motion video which just appears the Taj Mahal with the Perth Arena, which was a good reflection of Building as icon. But this also showed a side of the different motives for producing architecture – the Taj Mahal, the extreme gift of love, was surrounded by people admiring it, touching it, and just sitting staring at it. It was being appreciated. The Perth Arena on the other hand was portrayed as still flat architectural images, with no personal relationship. Can a building that was designed as an icon achieve that personal relationship?
There was also a beautiful piece that related found objects on site to a built form – an old piece of roof sheeting informed a courtyard house plan. I found this concept of a site’s hidden treasures impacting on what is put back in the site quite interesting. And a reminder to really look at a site before designing, thinking not just about what you can offer up to the site, but also what the site may be able to offer up to you.
Another piece that really impacted me was the laser printed pointillised portrait in front of the first window. I first approached it quite close up and saw the patterns of streets and a general plan form. And then stepping back you could see the greater image, with the city street map in the head-space of the portrait. This was really well done and I liked the relationship of city scale to personal. And I found it made me reflect on perceptions , scale and space. Plus it was stunningly beautiful silhouetted in the window.
In the same room was a stunning origami piece on the floor, merging different cultures and styles. Images transposed from one place and specific style to another, but still beautifully harmonious. This was a true lesson in ‘coming back’ – with new images, new skills and new ideas.
The adjacent work with couch, journal and tactile soft globe, immediately gave a comfortable feel and felt like that comfy pitstop you need after travelling fifteen countries in twenty days. The perfect place to reflect on your travels, and plan the next one. I liked the sense of reflection in this work – that it is not just when travelling that you learn, but also when you stop to think, plan and remember.
There were many other great works in here too, some great sketches, videos, pictures and concepts. And the curating was splendid, many of the pieces complementing each other, or purposely not, to get the viewer thinking. Congrats to all involved, it was a great exhibition.
PS As noted above, these comments are my interpretation of the pieces, as I often couldn’t read the very small descriptions. If you contributed to the exhibition, or also attended, I’d be keen to hear your opinions. Please comment below.