L’Officiel Art — Astronomical Conjunction

News, Juillet 2015
Photos © Ora-Ito

Le Corbusier / Dan Graham / Ora-ïto

Ora-ïto (born 1977) acquired the roof of the Cité Radieuse in Marseilles two years ago and turned it into an art centre – the MAMO in collaboration with the Audi talent awards. After inviting Xavier Veilhan and Daniel Buren to take over the space, Ora-ïto is giving carte blanche to american artist Dan Graham (born 1942). For fifty years, the artist has traced the symbiosis between architectural environments and their inhabitants. the two pavilions Graham has conceived for the MAMO will create a fascinating dialogue with the iconic architecture of Le Corbusier. L’Officiel Art met with the artist.

L’Officiel Art / Since the late 1970s you have designed glass and mirrored pavilions which have been realised in sites all over the world. Two of them will be installed on the roof of MAMO, like two transparent ships which will create a sensorial and intellectual experience for the visitor. What is the genesis of your collaboration with Ora-ïto, the owner of the place?

Dan Graham / Mr Ito seems to have been a fan of mine since his childhood. He is from the astrological sign Aries like me and I think we Aries, worship people. This might explain his enthusiasm to collaborate with me. I also think we have in common that we both want to make spaces which are available to the general public, and especially to create play situations for the children.

The Cité Radieuse has undergone some alterations since its edification. Ora-ïto has restored the roof a little bit and it’s indeed interesting to reflect about the passage of time on architecture.

Architecture is always modified for pragmatic reasons. Because it has a use value.

You describe your work as “geometric forms inhabited and activated by the presence of the viewer, producing a sense of uneasiness and psychological alienation through a constant play between feelings of inclusion and exclusion.”

My work is somewhere between function, design and art. And it’s always hybrid. In 1978 at the Museum of modern art in Oxford I began showing architecture models. And the exhibition at MAMO will show some of these architecture models as a clin d’oeil to that project Alteration to a Suburban House. It was the first time a scale model had been considered as an artwork in its own right.

Cité Radieuse can literally be translated as Radiant City, a kind of homage to the Sun and to the Mediterranean, which is a nice echo to your interest in astrology.

Oh I didn’t know it meant that. This is very interesting. Le Corbusier built this place at the end of his life, at a time when he was becoming fascinated by the Mediterranean. He was a logical, balanced Libra and created the Modulor which I see as a balance as between male and female. And indeed you can see that his interiors are very female. This is just my intuition about Le Corbusier but I really think that at the end of his life, he himself had become very Mediterranean and that he actually considered the Mediterranean as his goddess.

Dan Graham is represented in Paris by Marian Goodman Gallery.