Boutique Design - March/April 2010 - (Page 39)

Notes from the Edge of the Avant-Garde Boris Groys Discusses Tourism, Travel and the Art of Power “A Boris Groys rtists will use hospitality design for creating their installations…opening the possibility to see hospitality design as a kind of artistic installation,” said Boris Groys, German theorist and author of Art Power. Groys recently gave a lecture at The School for Visual Arts called “Everybody is an Artist,” exploring the dissonance and overlap between postmodern and socialist art, tracing the emergence of “weak” and “strong” imagery which transcends time or succumbs to it. BD felt a ripple of resonance across the hospitality industry, especially in his discussion of tourists as architects. We sought Groys out to discuss his views on the dialogue between design and culture. hospitality design for creating their installation. Of course, that also opens a possibility to see hospitality design as a kind of artistic installation. What is the nature of cultural representation in art and design? The cultural identity is, in fact, also an effect of tourism and globalization. If you live all your life in a certain culture, you never can experience it as specific or authentic because you do not have a possibility to compare it with other cultures. At the moment you begin to travel you start to compare — and to produce — cultural identities as something that differentiates individual cultures among themselves and allows the global tourist to identify them. But of course, these cultural identities also begin to travel. Let us take Chinese restaurants as an example; you can find them everywhere in the world, except China. Thus, the globalization does not negate the cultural identities. The globalization is the condition of their emergence. Instead of just living in a culture, one begins to define it, to formalize it, to draw the borders that allegedly separate a certain culture from other cultures. After this work of formalization is done, a cultural identity can be packaged and sold everywhere around the world — for example, as interior design. How can an artist’s/designer’s work remain worthwhile, articulating a private vision that speaks to the masses? Well, why insist on one’s own private vision? Since the times of the avant-garde the artists tried, rather, to capture a universal vision — to reveal the forms and patterns that are underlying the plurality of the past and present artistic manifestations. German Bauhaus and Russian Vkhutemas tried to formulate a non-individual, collective, international style that would not have any specific cultural identity but would reveal the geometric and constructive patterns that are underlying any possible artistic practice. Today, masses do not exist — our public space is extremely fragmented. Thus we have two main tendencies at the same time: an ever-increasing fragmentation — also by means of production of new and newer cultural identities — and renewed attempts to find the universal art forms that emerge as a result of reduction of all the particular art forms. The reduced images are universalist but they do not necessarily attract the masses that, rather, tend to be attracted by idiosyncratic, exclusive, ‘celebrity’ images. In your book, Art Power, you discuss the concept of the “tourist as architect.” Could you explain that idea? Tourists travel to the cities to see architectural monuments — old and new. Now, it is an illusion to think that these monuments are simply standing there — waiting for tourists to see them. Instead, it was tourism that created these monuments in the first place. It is tourism that monumentalizes a city: the gaze of the passing tourist transforms the relentlessly fluid, incessantly changing urban life into a stable, monumental image. It is no longer only such famed monuments as the Eiffel Tower or Cologne Cathedral that seem to cry out for preservation. When you go, for example, to New York, and visit the South Bronx, this scene becomes also imbued with the dignified aura of monumentality. The first thing that strikes you is, ‘Yes, that's how things always used to be here and that's how they will stay — all these colorful types, the picturesque city ruins and danger allegedly looming at every corner.’ At a later date, you might read in the papers that this district is due to be ‘gentrified,’ and your reaction would be one of shock and sadness, similar to what you would feel on hearing that Cologne Cathedral or the Eiffel Tower were to be demolished to make way for a department store. You think, ‘here is a slice of authentic, unique and different life that is going to be destroyed, and once again everything is about to be flattened and rendered banal; what was once monumental is soon to be irrevocably lost.’ But such mourning would be premature. For on your next visit to the now gentrified area, you say, ‘How marvelously insipid, ugly and banal everything is here — it clearly must have always been as insipid as this, and will always remain so.’ Rather than being guided by some intrinsic quality pertaining to a monument, our sense of monumentality is derived from the relentless process of monumentalization, de-monumentalization and re-monumentalization that is unleashed by the tourist's gaze. Photo courtesy of Natalia Nikitin What is the dialogue between hospitality design (guests as spectators/performers in a kind of tableau) versus a museum with spectators? I would say that I saw from time to time a transfer from hospitality design to the exhibition design — especially, the artistic installation design. The installation is an artistic, personal space inside the public space of the museum or exhibition space. That is why the artists will use boutique DESIGN march/april 2010 • 39

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Boutique Design - March/April 2010

Boutique Design - March/April 2010
Table Of Contents
Hyatt Opens First Andaz Hotel On Wall Street In NYC
Brintons Announces Second Collection With Scottish Duo
AB Concept In Hong Kong Creates The French Window, Overlooking The Harbor
Washington D.C. Celebrates Revamped Design Center
Q&A With Kit Kemp, On How She Successfully Brought Firmdale Hotels To The U.S. With The Crosby Street
Adam Tihany Delivers Las Vegas’ First Mandarin Oriental After A Collective Deep Breath, CityCenter Opens And Adam Tihany Delivers Las Vegas’ First Mandarin Oriental
World By Design
Fathom Creative Turns A Dilapidated Brake Shop Into New Multi-Use Space For Art, Business, Life And Inspiration
German Theorist And Author, Boris Groys, Discusses His Book, Art Power And The Idea Of Tourists As Architects As Part Of This Month’s Inspiration
Designer Meetups Hosts Big Wigs In Design To Share Inspiration And Discuss Trends In Informal, Open Environments
Brian Orter Weighs In On The Popular Debate In The Design Community About Hand Drawings Versus Realistic Computer Renderings
EnVogue: BD Brings You Snapshots
Bath And Spa:
Calender/Advertisers Index

Boutique Design - March/April 2010