la beijing


I’LL BEGIN WITH THE BULLET HOLES. They were small, but by no means discreet, and surely everyone who visited the UCLA Hammer Museum in early 2006 saw them, pocking the lower flanks of Jean Prouvé’s prefabricated steel-and-aluminum Tropical House, 1951/2005–2006, which had been retrieved from its original site in the former French Congo and reassembled in the museum’s courtyard. At first glance, the structure had a quaint dioramic quality, like a life-size colonial dollhouse for a make-believe attaché, an impression that was only enhanced by the leafy bamboo plants that surrounded it. But then I noticed the holes, ominous punctures in the logic and presentation of an otherwise perfectly self-contained architectural relic. Given the meticulous restoration, it was clear the perforations had been left intentionally unrepaired, as if to preserve the contradictions inherent in memorializing such a prototype, whose innovations and “functionality” pertain pointedly to France’s colonial past: Prouvé’s “machine for living” was easily shipped, quick to put up or take down, and equipped with a ventilation system that promised comfort to the European unused to equatorial climates.

more from artforum here.