Glenn Walls

Prototype for Sophisticated Living 1 (Broke exhibition)

Posted in Prototype for Sophisticated Living 1 (Broke exhibition) by Glenn Walls on July 3, 2008

Prototype for Sophisticated Living 1 exhibited at the Carlton Hotel & Studios 2008 in the group show Broke

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Prototype for Sophisticated Living 1 for the exhibition Broke At the Carlton Hotel & Studios 2008

Let’s talk about it, or new utopias

By

Rebecca Coates is an independent curator and writer, Adjunct Curator at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), and currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Melbourne looking at site-specific, ephemeral based installations.

Blubberland: The Dangers of Happiness , a new book by Elizabeth Farrelly, coins a new term for a new form of architectural horrible-ness.  For Farrelly, Western society is now a “Blubberland”, a society in which ‘most of us have more than enough of what we need and more than enough of what we want as well’.  As she continues, most of the inhabitants of Blubberland have far too much and more not only of material goods but also bodily fat, ‘to a degree that is dangerous for them and for the future of the planet.’  Thus the development of the McMansion: vast sprawling architectural monstrosities with too many bedrooms, an equal number of bathrooms, four-space garages, and so many windows that those commissioning them can’t afford the curtains.  And filled they are to groaning point with all the stuff and possessions a family could not possibly want, let alone need.
The disillusionment and rejection of modernist architectural ideals by the 1960s Italian group Superstudio might be akin to a similar rejection of today’s faceless, tasteless, mass-consumist architecture in what was once the green belt.  Once only the domain of savvy architects and design aficionados, Superstudio’s little-known architectural vision is undergoing a cult revival as architects and artists look to articulate their dissatisfaction with popular trends and developments.
Founded in Florence by a group of radical young architects in 1966, Superstudio laid out their vision of a built environment, ‘an efficient minimalist space that provides an ordered existence .. [The space should] not [be] constructed on the whims of consumerism and fashion.’   The location of this new form of avant-garde thinking is of course not accidental: Florence, Italy: a town ‘where all such contradictions become evident … [a town which] stands historically symbolic.’   And what better vehicle to launch their manifesto than Italian Vogue: anarchy and avant-garde are nothing if not fashionable.

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