Mi­chael Smith

L'OF­FI­CIEL ART : Could you in­tro­duce your pro­ject for do­cu­men­ta 14?

AN­DREAS AN­GE­LI­DA­KIS : In fact, for do­cu­men­ta, which this year will take place in Athens and Kas­sel, I am doing two pro­jects in each site. One is space for the pu­blic pro­gram and the other is an ins­tal­la­tion. They are both concep­tual­ly re­la­ted. So, for the pu­blic pro­gram in Athens, I did a piece cal­led De­mos, which is made up of soft con­crete blocks that can be rear­ran­ged at all times. They are meant to com­bine the idea of Athens with the rea­li­ty of Athens. The idea of Athens is the bir­th­place of de­mo­cra­cy, but the rea­li­ty of Athens is a ran­dom­ly built con­crete ci­ty that makes no sense. The soft blocks reference these marbles steps on the Nike hill where de­mo­cra­cy was first, let's say, at­temp­ted. But they are co­ve­red by this con­crete pat­tern like all the ci­ty. For the ins­tal­la­tion in Kas­sel, we are loo­king in a more po­li­ti­cal way by fo­cu­sing on Kas­sel's main pro­duc­tion, which is the in­dus­try of war. The Pan­zer Tank is the most fa­mous pro­duct of the ci­ty apart from do­cu­men­ta. We have used the si­mi­la­ri­ties of the blocks that we did for Athens in or­der to shape a Pan­zer Tank. It's like a bro­ken puzzle in the space in a way. The blocks are co­ve­red with this mi­li­ta­ry fa­bric that ac­tual­ly comes from Greek mi­li­ta­ry uni­forms. Greece is al­so buying a lot of mi­li­ta­ry ar­se­nal from Ger­ma­ny. Even though it's a coun­try in cri­sis, the mi­li­ta­ry spen­ding continues. These two ins­tal­la­tions make up the pu­blic pro­gram res­pec­ti­ve­ly in Athens and Kas­sel.

Are you doing any ins­tal­la­tions in pa­ral­lel?

In Athens, I will have an ins­tal­la­tion in an apart­ment. It takes the form of a fic­tio­nal com­pa­ny that in­ves­ti­gates the psy­cho­tech­ni­cal as­pects of how the ci­ty was made. It com­bines the of­fice of a ci­vil en­gi­neer with the of­fice of a psy­cho­ana­lyst. Then, in Kas­sel, I will show the re­port on this ins­tal­la­tion.

The no­tion of ruins is of par­ti­cu­lar in­ter­est to you. One could think of Ara­ta Iso­za­ki's pro­ject around the Hi­ro­shi­ma Ruins, or Pi­ra­ne­si's de­cay phan­tas­ma­go­ria, and of course James Wines' (SITE) work.

I am in­ter­es­ted in buil­ding not as a sta­tic mo­ment, but as so­me­thing that is al­ways chan­ging, which is al­ways in pro­gress and maybe un­der­going en­tro­py. Like people in a way. I guess ruins are like self-por­traits be­cause I think so­me­times like a ruin. I think as well of ruins as a layer of buil­dings' emo­tio­nal pre­sence.

The ruin be­comes a ve­hicle for a buil­ding's un­ful­filled po­ten­tial. Your pro­ject TROLL­CA­SI­NO, part of the Greek Pa­vi­lion at the 13th Ve­nice Bien­nial of Ar­chi­tec­ture, re­volves around this idea.

The Troll and the Ca­si­no are two pro­jects which are part of a tri­lo­gy on the ci­ty of Athens. Troll is one of the few clas­si­cal mo­der­nist buil­ding in the ci­ty, a kind of so­cial hou­sing. In the vi­deo, she be­comes di­sillu­sio­ned with how the ci­ty has tur­ned out. It is no lon­ger a mo­der­nist pa­ra­dise but ra­ther a ve­ry mixed-up ci­ty. So, the buil­ding de­cides to leave Athens and to go live in the moun­tains. In the vi­deo, the buil­ding gets up and starts wal­king away from the ci­ty. It most­ly deals with Athens' ci­vic cri­sis, as has been the case from 2010 up un­til now. With Ca­si­no, we have al­rea­dy ar­ri­ved in the moun­tains, spe­ci­fi­cal­ly Mount Par­nas­sus. When we ar­rive there, we find this other ruin. It's again a mo­der­nist buil­ding. But this time, it is not idea­list but more an Ame­ri­can type of mo­der­nism buil­ding ty­pi­cal of the 60s. It's a buil­ding used by the go­vern­ment in or­der to pro­mote the eco­no­my. When they built this ca­si­no, first as a hotel, it was ad­ver­ti­sed a lot as “look how great the buil­dings are that the go­vern­ment of Greece can do, now that we are part of Na­to.” It was al­so fun­ded a lot by the Mar­shall plan. But it was ve­ry un­lu­cky, be­cause as a bu­si­ness it went ban­krupt af­ter the first two years. They tur­ned it in­to a school for tou­rism, and it went ban­krupt again. Ano­ther com­pa­ny bought it and it be­came a ca­si­no. But it went ban­krupt as well. There was a big fire in the 80s and then a big ear­th­quake in the 90s, so part of the buil­ding fell down the cliff. Ins­tead of being a pos­ter for the eco­no­my, it be­came a por­trait of how the eco­no­my tur­ned out. Th­rough its va­rious ban­krupt­cies, fires and ear­th­quake, it fol­lo­wed the des­ti­ny of the Greek eco­no­my. In the vi­deo, the buil­ding de­cides at some point to ex­plode, and be­comes ma­ny small buil­dings, frag­ments, ruins that live in the moun­tains in a kind of vil­lage eco­no­my, ra­ther than its pre­vious ca­pi­ta­list ver­sion.

Ano­ther ruin that in­ter­es­ted you too was Alexan­der Io­las' vil­la. Could you tell us more about your re­search on him?

When I was a kid, gro­wing up in the 80s, I would read about Io­las. He was a ve­ry po­la­ri­zing fi­gure. He was open­ly gay and ve­ry flam­boyant. He was real­ly close to Arte Po­ve­ra, he was al­so a good friend of An­dy Wa­rhol and ve­ry in­ter­es­ted be­fore that in the Sur­rea­lists. He was a real­ly im­por­tant fi­gure for me, a kind of idol. I knew that his vil­la was a ruin and was emp­ty af­ter he died. He had tried to do­nate his col­lec­tion to the Greek state. But the go­vern­ment did not ac­cept it be­cause he was not, let's say, the type of per­son they wan­ted to be connec­ted with. He died of Aids in 1987. In all these things, he was consi­de­red a per­so­na non gra­ta. His col­lec­tion di­sap­pea­red bet­ween his re­la­tives, his ser­vant and whoe­ver could get a piece of it. In 2007, Ca­sa Vogue, the Ita­lian sup­ple­ment of Vogue Ita­lia for ar­chi­tec­ture, as­ked me to write about a vil­la. So, I de­ci­ded to go, to try to find it and en­ter. I kind of broke in and took pho­to­graphs. At that time, you could still find ex­hi­bi­tion ca­ta­logues on the floor. I be­came a bit ob­ses­sed with the his­to­ry of Io­las, and how the contem­po­ra­ry Greek art scene would have been dif­ferent if that vil­la exis­ted as he wan­ted it to, which is as a contem­po­ra­ry art centre foun­ded by his art col­lec­tion. Ima­gine, the col­lec­tion was maybe 100 im­por­tant pain­tings by An­dy Wa­rhol, Max Ernst, Ma­gritte. He was the first per­son to show An­dy Wa­rhol in the Hu­go gal­le­ry in New York. I al­so found that he dis­co­ve­red Ed Ru­sha in the 80s when he was a young ar­tist. Io­las was ve­ry ac­tive. If that vil­la had been a contem­po­ra­ry art centre as he wan­ted, we would have had a mu­seum much soo­ner. In a vi­deo, I did speak a lit­tle bit about how the idea of Io­las was des­troyed by the go­vern­ment of the time, and how the col­lec­tion di­sap­pea­red. In the vi­deo, his ghost continues to build the vil­la. He was al­ways ad­ding rooms when he did not have en­ough space to ex­hi­bit his col­lec­tions. The vil­la was de­si­gned to look like an an­cient Greek vil­la. The way he ex­hi­bi­ted his col­lec­tion was al­so ve­ry in­ter­es­ting. He would mix by­zan­tine with pop art, and arte po­ve­ra with contem­po­ra­ry art. His col­lec­tion, fur­ni­ture and fur coat, was all dis­played to­ge­ther in a ve­ry ra­di­cal and in­ter­es­ting set up.

I wan­ted to go back to your ve­ry first pro­ject in the 90s that you did around the on­line com­mu­ni­ty cal­led Ac­tive Worlds. Was it your first in­vol­ve­ment with di­gi­tal ar­chi­tec­ture?

Yes, those were ear­ly works. It was done to­ge­ther with Mil­tos Ma­ne­tas. He found this on­line plat­form and we de­ci­ded to create a world for ar­tists and ar­chi­tects. It was a kind of on­line art centre where we would give buil­dings to our friends and host other ins­ti­tu­tions. But this of course was consi­de­red to be ve­ry gee­ky by the art world. In 1997, no­bo­dy from the art world was in­ter­es­ted in the in­ter­net. Any­way, it was still ve­ry fas­ci­na­ting for me. I could make a buil­ding in a few hours and then give it to a

friend of mine. It's a fan­ta­sy that you can ne­ver ex­pe­rience of­fline. We were doing that in the first days of the in­ter­net, while trying to un­ders­tand the phi­lo­so­phi­cal im­pli­ca­tions of such things.

La­ter on, you crea­ted the di­gi­tal plat­form Neen with Mil­tos Ma­ne­tas?

Yes, Neen was in 2001. It was a kind of vil­lage for the ar­tists par­ti­ci­pa­ting in Neen. Each one had a kind of house that I made as a por­trait using their works, some ideas or per­so­nal sto­ries.

Was it around that time that you star­ted to create 3D-prin­ted mo­dels of your houses?

I star­ted 3D-prin­ting with Neen World. The first I did was in 2002. It had just star­ted as a tech­no­lo­gy. I was li­ving in New York back then. As I was afraid that Mil­tos and I would lose Neen World, I star­ted to 3D-Print the houses I did on­line in or­der to have a hard co­py of them. It was first shown at the inau­gu­ral Frieze Art Fair with the Bree­der gal­le­ry. Again, 3D-prin­ting was not yet consi­de­red in the art world.

The 3D-prin­ted buil­dings you de­ve­lo­ped around that time were like ar­chi­tec­tu­ral col­lages. One could think of Kurt Sch­wit­ters's Merz­bau. Did the Hand House re­volve around that idea as well?

In a way, yes. I am in­ter­es­ted by buil­dings that ex­tend and keep chan­ging out­side and in­side like a li­ving or­ga­nism. The Hand House was a pro­ject I did for Pin-Up ma­ga­zine. The idea was to rein­ves­ti­gate the Case Stu­dy Houses in Los An­geles. It mixed dif­ferent sources from the ci­ty. The idea of the na­tu­ral di­sas­ter, which is al­ways im­mi­nent in Los An­geles, along with the idea of the young boy or girl that comes to L.A in or­der to be­come an ac­tor, but ends up as a wai­ter, and the kind of over-re­pre­sen­ta­tion that is in­herent to the ci­ty.

As a conclu­sion, could you speak about your next pro­jects?

Right now I'm wor­king on a few books. One is for the ex­hi­bi­tion Fin de Siècle at the Swiss Ins­ti­tute in New York in 2015, which will be out in Sep­tem­ber. Then a book on the pro­ject Su­per­benches, which is part of Ka­le­j­do­hill, a two-year pro­ject in Stock­holm,that will conclude in De­cem­ber 2017. Ka­le­j­do­hill is ur­ban de­ve­lop­ment re­search conduc­ted with Mia Lund­strom, on ways to in­clude the ci­ti­zen in the ci­ty plan­ning pro­cess, sand it takes on va­rious forms, like ar­chi­tec­tu­ral com­pe­ti­tions, confe­rences, ci­vic ac­ti­vi­ties and pu­bli­ca­tions. For Su­per­benches we as­ked Fe­lix Bur­rich­ter of Pi­nup ma­ga­zine to se­lect 10 de­si­gners, each of whom would de­si­gn a park bench for a ne­glec­ted park in Jar­fal­la, Stock­holm. La­ter on, in No­vem­ber, I'm cu­ra­ting the Re­gio­nale ex­hi­bi­tion at the Kuns­thalle in Ba­sel.

An­dreas An­ge­li­da­kis, House for my mo­ther, 2015, zCorp 450 et co­lor 3D print, 34,5 x 21 x 21 cm.

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