The Venice Architecture Biennale opens to the public today and this year’s socially conscious theme, titled Reporting from the Front, has spurred many new ideas on public-space use. But it is from the private sphere of the home that Britain’s pavilion has taken its cues. In a space made up of five different rooms, structured according to increments of time (from hours to decades), the exhibition tackles themes such as property speculation and London’s housing crisis. Jack Self, one of the co-curators of Home Economics, the exhibition commissioned by the British Council, says, “We wanted to suggest this isn’t just an economic problem, it’s not just a numbers game but it’s a problem with the way our homes are no longer fit for how our lives have changed.” The result is a rethinking of shared space and the home. The Biennale is on until 27 November.
A recent spate of books about brutalist buildings (those impersonal concrete sorts from the 1950s-1970s) has done much to improve the image of the once-reviled style, but author Peter Chadwick’s success lies in making these unyielding brutes feel all the more human in his new title This Brutal World for Phaidon. A graphic designer by trade, it’s Chadwick’s words as well as images that weave an irresistible narrative, starting with his upbringing in Britain’s industrial north and first experiences of these post-war provocateurs – namely the ICI chemical plant and Dorman Long blast furnace – that he experienced as a child. Readers can expect a chronicle of the concrete creations of masters such as Eero Saarinen, Le Courbusier and Harry Seidler, interspersed with contemporary buildings from Daniel Libeskind, Zaha Hadid and John Pawson, which bear the stamp of the brutalist ideals. All in all it’s a monochromatic melee of metamorphic, powerful and inspiring buildings and quite simply the best in class for books on brutalism.
Nearly 40 years after her death, many of Irish designer Eileen Gray’s works – such as the Bibendum chair and her E-1027 villa in France – still resonate today. Alongside Le Corbusier, Gray is considered a pioneer of the modernist movement. This weekend marks the release of Gray Matters in London’s Bertha Doc House. The documentary chronicles the many phases of Gray’s multifaceted career: she started working with lacquer before switching to furniture design and then architecture, leaving an indelible imprint at each stage. As Philippe Garner, Christie’s international head of photographs and 20th-century decorative arts and design, puts it: “It’s the fascinating story of one woman’s determined journey to stay relevant through the decades, true to her muse, true to herself and true to the changing times.”
The artist Cornelia Parker arches her curatorial eyebrow and sprinkles a magic dust of memory, strangeness and chance over a collection of artefacts and artistic interventions for “Found” at London’s Foundling Museum (itself a charming stalwart in Bloomsbury’s quietest corner). Found objects – what is their past, what is their future? – mix in with works that suggest an idea of unearthedness. Like what? Ron Arad’s poignant metres-long string of pawnshop receipts from 1951 (the year of his birth), many of which are for GWR – a gold wedding ring. Jeremy Deller presents a rebellious rock‘n’roll relic – a document listing all of John Lennon’s detentions while at Quarry Bank High School in 1955. John Smith presents his father’s paint-stirring stick (pictured), an object he became obsessed with, shown here like a relic. Cornelia Parker’s own close-up scans of Charlotte Brontë’s more revealing edits to Jane Eyre make for wry reflection. “I wanted to infiltrate every speck of the museum,” says Parker of this witty, moving and nourishing exhibition that runs until 4 September and shows one of contemporary art’s liveliest minds at play.
Broadcasting from the Cannes waterfront, this special edition wraps up this year’s glittering film festival. We look at the surprising award winners and hear from Edouard Waintrop and the European Commission about how digital borders are shaping our viewing habits. Plus: we talk about a film shot on location in Syria and why Japan isn’t all about animation.
Bangkok is a city both liberal and traditional where outsiders are always welcome but few can gain a true understanding of the capital’s intricacies. Published by Gestalten, The Monocle Travel Guide to Bangkok will steer you to our favourite hotels and retailers, lesser-known neighbourhoods, tasty restaurants and street-side bars where the city’s bright young things party until the early hours.
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