Between September 1998 and January 2001, Andrew Moore traveled around Cuba meeting residents and photographing them among their built environments. He snapped more than 700 8 x 10 color negatives during that period, producing a staggering visual record of a particular moment in the country’s history primarily shown through its architecture.
Through Moore’s lens, Cuba’s palatial residences and generally lavish interiors with marble and gilded details are shown tinged with decay: Paint peels from a ceiling to reveal structural wooden slats, broken windows are left in disrepair, and mismatched outdoor seating and modern appliances become out-of-place furnishings in once opulent rooms.
Shot mostly in urban metropolises, the alluring images are evidence of architecture’s power to both respond to and produce a community’s way of life. Havana, Moore shares with Colossal, is built vertically, with tile roofs, high ceilings, and tall windows that encircle central courtyards and offer relief from the fierce heat and sun. “The daylight is generally hard and creates deep shadows, while by night, which falls quickly, the city is quite dark with little by way of street lighting,” he says. Outdoor walls bleach over time from the sun, and verdant foliage and plant life grow in lush tufts from window boxes and landscaped villas.
Many of the buildings Moore photographed were constructed before air-conditioning was ubiquitous and at the time, hadn’t undergone significant updates. During his visit—Cuba and its residents were notably experiencing the effects of U.S. embargos between 1998 and 2001—this resulted in dozens of residents living together in a structure designed for single families. He explains:
These domestic clusters are known as solars. Given these crowded living conditions, and the tropical climate, Havana can seem like a city inside out: in their extraordinary activity, the overflowing streets remind one of a vast living room. Thus it became of particular importance to me to depict the architectural fabric of this unique city and country within the context of its people.
Residents, while often seen in the distance of the frame, add intimacy and humanity to the series. Along with assistants Ondrej Kubicek, Laurence Dutton, Kevin Fletcher, and Bart Michels, Moore interacted with locals and heard stories about their lives, which were translated by his friend Paquito Vives, while producing the collection. “All of us learned about the city by walking its streets, by knocking on doors, and through talking with the residents about the history of their city,” he shares. “People would frequently complain about the condition of their houses, but they were always friendly and most freely invited us into their homes for a small coffee and long conversations.”
Professionally for Moore, this staggering body of work was his first chance to gather “color harmony, natural light, deep and shallow space, narrative detail, cultural history, and the human figure” within a single image. It was inspired by Julius Schulman’s photos of Mid-Century Modern architecture and the way people configure within a space, a concern that’s visible throughout his extensive archive of locales in Russia and Ukraine, New York, and Detroit.
Currently based in Kingston, New York, Moore has published six volumes of his photos, and you can find two of the most recent, Blue Alabama and Dirt Meridian, on Bookshop. He’s currently preparing for a solo show featuring Hudson Valley landscapes, which will be on view in 2023 at Yancey Richardson. Until then, see more of his work on his site and Instagram. (via swissmiss)
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A follow-up to the massive, six-pointed star that pierced a concrete building back in 2015, a new site-specific work by Malaysian artist Jun Ong bores through an extension of a former warehouse in Kuala Lumpur. “STAR/KL” is an illuminated installation comprised of 111 LED beams in various sizes that burst outward in the open-air structure, impaling the chainlink fence, support columns, and facade of the Air Building at The Godown art center. Described as an “extraterrestrial light being,” the glowing public work performs a hypnotic dance of flashes and flickers each night with an accompanying sound component by Reza Othman, who’s part of the experimental electronic and jazz project RAO.
“STAR/KL” is up through March 26, 2022, although its light will fade gradually during the next few months until it extinguishes entirely. You can see more of the otherworldly piece and dive into Ong’s process on Instagram. You also might enjoy this radiant intervention by Ian Strange. (via designboom)
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Part walkway and part dramatic sculpture, an outdoor staircase by Alex Chinneck unfurls into individual metallic ribbons as it climbs a brick building in Brighton. The latest work by the British artist, titled “A Spring in Your Step,” is made of galvanized steel and features a base with slatted rungs that gradually unwind into a trio of strips splaying outward over Circus Square.
Chinneck is known for his surreal architectural interventions—these include melting facades, a condemned building that unzips, and twisting red post boxes—that upend ubiquitous designs in favor of bizarre counterparts. He shares about the new piece: “’A Spring in Your Step’ took three years to complete, weighs four tonnes, is 25 meters tall, and follows a non-repeating, expanding, and contracting helical form, making it my most complex sculpture to date.”
Head to the artist’s Instagram to see the three-year process behind the spectacular sculpture and to explore a larger collection of his works.
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Tagged with graffiti and marred by a chipped facade, a stately Victorian home in a Sydney suburb is the site of a brilliant site-specific installation by artist Ian Strange. “Light Intersections II” uses angled beams of light to impale the derelict structure and permeate outer walls, windows, and the ornate, metallic railing on the second-floor balcony. Illuminating the battered building, Strange’s monumental public work is one of his many projects that explores ideas of home through architectural interventions.
The artist, who lives between Melbourne and Brooklyn, relies on the concepts of drawing to inform much of his practice, with a particular focus on how single marks alter perspectives and affect understandings of the material world. He explains:
The lines of light in ‘Intersections’ are an attempt to place abstracted perspective lines back into the environment. These drawn perspective lines don’t appear in nature, but are staples in both painting, drawing, and architecture, used as a way of containing, representing, and changing the natural environment.
Commissioned by the City of Sydney, “Light Intersections II” follows the artist’s 2019 project that installed a similar concept throughout the galleries and around the perimeter of Melbourne’s Lyon Housemuseum. Watch the video below for a tour of the radiant home, and explore more of Strange’s work on Instagram. (via Street Art News)
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A column of metallic type scales the former Zenger Transformer Substation in Prague, melding the historic venue with the visual identity of the new art institution housed in its space. Conceived by the Czech Republic-based Studio Najbrt, the uniquely positioned logo wraps vertically around the corner of the Kunsthalle Praha building and is based on a typeface by German designer Jan Tschichold, who created it in the 1930s around the time the station was built. Construction involved modeling the hinged letters in paper and modifying the forms to account for the central bend, a lengthy process you can see more of Studio Najbrt’s Instagram.
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Towering over cut-out voids are artist Peter Callesen’s sculptures of existing architectural ruins and stately edifices. Constructed with a single sheet of white paper, the miniature buildings appear to surface from their original flat piece into three-dimensional forms complete with crumbling facades and tipped columns. Each work juxtaposes the soft, fragile material with the sturdy subject matter and “is a reminder of what once was present and that even material like stone can change and break,” the artist says, explaining further:
Almost as creation in reverse, the ruin as a motif for my works deals with the themes of rise and fall, through typical gothic architecture inspired by romantic painters. The ruins are rising from their intact and undamaged silhouettes. The work ‘17.8 Tall Tower of Babel’ is also linked to brokenness and failure, because of the Tower of Babel myth.
Callesen, who is based in Mors, Denmark, is showing some of these smaller sculptures at Vestjyllands Udstillingen through January, and you can explore more of his intricate miniatures and sprawling installations on Instagram.
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Highlights below. For the full collection click here.