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Addressing ‘Solitude’ in the Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans at Frac Centre-Valde Loire

On October 11, the second iteration of the Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans opened at Frac Centre-Valde Loire in Orléans, France. Curated by Abdelkader Damani and Luca Galofaro, and featuring guest curators including SCI-Arc Director and CEO Hernán Díaz Alonso, Nora Akawi, Cornelia Escher, Frida Escobedo & iii, Pierre Frey, and Davide Sacconi, the Biennale features 65 artists and architects across 14 exhibition sites, and in collaboration with 11 colleges and universities.

Addressing ‘Solitude’ in the Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans at Frac Centre-Valde Loire
Installation view of 'The Architectural Beast' at Frac Centre-Valde Loire

Entitled Years of Solitude, the work featured in this year’s Biennale addresses what Damiani and Galofaro referred to in their joint curatorial statement as that which “tell[s] tales of solitude from around the world, in places where architecture is still a form of engagement with reality and a “promise” for freedom.”

Of Diaz Alonso’s curatorial contribution, a “collective installation” entitled The Architectural Beast—which was co-designed by SCI-Arc faculty M. Casey Rehm—Damiani and Galofaro describe the collaborative project as one that “will show how the strange, speculative and unexpected projects of architects, artists and designers inspire and rub of [sic] on one another, thus demonstrating how collaborative practice is at the heart of contemporary architecture.”

'Compression Cradle' by Lucy McRae
'Compression Cradle' by Lucy McRae

In Díaz Alonso’s curatorial statement about The Architectural Beast, which includes the work of many SCI-Arc faculty, he notes: “Today, perhaps as never before, we share a technical language that flows from discipline to discipline, altering the paths of previously discrete branches of knowledge. Many practices—art, architecture, fashion, film, music—explore similar ambitions, ideas rippling across and among them. The notion of authorship itself is in flux.”

AI composite of Ferda Kolatan's project by M. Casey Rehm
AI composite of Ferda Kolatan's project by M. Casey Rehm

“This exhibition acknowledges and propels this phenomenon,” he continues. “It seeks to carve a path through a jungle of aesthetic and conceptual similarities to provoke contamination. Through artificial intelligence, the work featured will be exposed to a perpetual state of transformation and mutation. The exhibition gathers a key set of practices, primarily from architecture, but also from art and fashion, to reveal facets of the strange beast that the tumultuous paradigm shifts of recent decades have left behind.”

Several projects in the exhibition explore the concept of authorship as expressed through new technologies. Based on the apparatus discourse of Marcel Duchamp's Large Glass, the exhibition features 12 paired screens and panels displaying images, text, and video—with digital visualization design by Rehm—which represent the work of each participating artist or architect as produced through machine learning. One example, created by Rehm along with SCI-Arc faculty Liam Young and Damjan Jovanovic, uses an AI model to generate random architectural images along with accompanying text, posting them to a dedicated Instagram feed @thearchitecturalbeast each day for the duration of the exhibition.

The Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans will run at the Frac Centre and corresponding exhibition sites from October 11, 2019 through January 19, 2020.

loud lines by kristy balliet
'Loud Lines' by Kristy Balliet / BairBalliet

Complete list of participating artists and architects in The Architectural Beast is below:

BairBalliet , USA
Hernán Díaz Alonso, USA-Argentina
Griffin Enright, USA
Damjan Jovanovic, Serbia
Alberto Kalach, Mexico
Ferda Kolatan, USA
Elena Manferdini, Italia
Fabian Marcaccio, Italia
Lucy McRae, UK-Australia
Florencia Pita & Co, USA
Casey Rehm, USA
Ruy Klein, USA
Servo LA-Stockholm, USA-Sweden
Testa & Weiser, USA
Tom Wiscombe, USA
Liam Young, Australia