Wednesday 14 August 2019

plattensbau studio - drawing workshop

At the end of July a friend and I had signed up for a drawing workshop given by the Berlin-based Irish artist/architect duo plattensbau studio (Jennifer O'Donnell & Jonathan Janssens). They had a short residency at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) to coincide with the group exhibition, A Vague Anxiety, of which they were a part. I hadn't seen the exhibition yet, so did not know what to expect, but they began the workshop with a presentation of their practice, which is arcitectural but always with a concern of the human presence.

The focus of the workshop was the fact that "IMMA Was A House", or rather, a home and hospital for veterans. The participants in the workshop would assist in the research of mapping signs of habitation at IMMA, specifically evidenced in the courtyard.

Each participant was provided with a clipboard containing an architectural drawing of the courtyard, markers, blank paper, and sticky dots. We were sent to the courtyard to observe... I was interested in the clock tower and sundial. Both used Roman numerals.

Details such as chimney pots (and a seagull preening beside a chimney pot), a window, curved features interested me.

My friend was walking around making her own observations. I wrote down a few words overheard...

I also marked the areas on the ground where there were circular and rectangular utility covers, on the provide architectural plan. I left this with plattensbau. There were large plans taking up several tables in the Project Space at IMMA, and it was here that after an hour or so the participants crowded around and added their observations. Afterwards there was a lively discussion about the evidence of habitation provided by observation. Before leaving IMMA, I and my friend made sure to have a look at the A Vague Anxiety exhibition, specifically because we wanted to have a closer look at the work of plattensbau in the context of the exhibition. Of most interest to me (though I could not find a proper picture of it - below. at the very bottom, only shows a partial image) was the to-size architectural drawing of O'Donnell's and Janssens' former flat in Dublin, but it included "things" in the flat (ie, the chopping board with carrots). It made me think of the archaeologically precise work that was done to bring the Francis Bacon studio from London and recreate it in Dublin some years ago.

The other work that plattensbau have in the exhibition is an architecturally rendered drawing of the apartment buildings, which are across from and identical to the apartment in which they live in Berlin. After seeing their presentation earlier, I was much more interested in taking a look at the signs of habitation in each apt - the differences between balcony furnishings, plants, etc. - rather than focusing on the bland buildings and the initial feeling of "sameness".  

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