“Wirescapes: connected with the urban fabric” Exhibition
We see electric cables as mere functional elements to move electricity. Though, cables are also the media used to carry energy. The recent exhibition “Wirescapes: connected with the urban fabric” starts from this premise to imagine a journey through electric cables connecting urban photographic views.
The trip starts from a symbolic power plug located at the UNTITLED Space gallery and proceeds through photos exhibited on canvas created with recycled keyboard waste. In this inspiring exhibition, wires become the metaphor for our contemporary metropolis, linked cities helping us to “discover new perspectives, leave a positive mark, or even make a new connection that will inspire others.”
Like in the theory of the “Butterfly effect”, the decisions of each of us can have a massive impact on our cities or even the overall planet. Thus, the entire world community will benefit if our actions are oriented toward a sustainable and ethical lifestyle. Together with wire, serendipity is another word related to this exhibition. Serendipitous was the encounter, during a sakura viewing, between the two curators, Ludovica Cirillo and Toto Tvalavadze. The first is an Italian architect passionate about recycling. The second is a Georgian software engineer in love with photography.
Serendipity is also the concept behind UNTITLED Space, the gallery hosting the exhibition. The venue is in Sumida-Ku, Tokyo, inside a lovely one-hundred-year-old nagaya. It is conceived as an everchanging and flexible space - built in symbiosis with the architectural studio Wasabi – that can host events such as wine tastings, ikebana classes, art exhibitions, and even workshops for kids. Rafael Balboa, the founder of Studio Wasabi, explained to us the concept behind this space.
It is located in a traditional area, full of local pride, where everyone knows each other. The Sumida area is often called the “Mesopotamia of Tokyo”, because it lies between two rivers: Sumida and Arakawa. The entrance faces the main road, designed as a people connector.
A triangular gate welcomes the visitors, a straightforward yet effective design strategy that guides the visitors toward the two different functions of the place: architectural office and gallery. The triangle is theatrical, with toys habitually displayed at the entrance to intrigue passers-by and invite them to enter the gallery. Toys are also the distinctive tract of the place: dozens of impressive collectible sofubi are displayed on the shelves. The newness of the vinyl toys contrasts with the minimal wooden interiors fabricated with the recycled wood of the old ceiling.
[Spicy architecture] and Urban Think Tank, this is the motto of Studio Wasabi, born in 2013. An architectural office that adds playfulness in all its works, mainly aiming to generate connections through the think tank. The name Wasabi says it all. Wasabi is a rhizome, which is different from the root. The root is hierarchical, while the rhizome has a distributed hierarchy, a network. The practice was founded by as two foreign architects based in Japan.
Its motto is ‘nomadic identity,’ symbolizing the unique approach blending different cultures, diverse strategies, and visions of architecture. Impermanence - a concept strongly related to Japanese culture - is also the generator of nomadic identities and the so-called Homo-Movens. Studio Wasabi founders quote the term coined by Kisho Kurokawa to identify the firm's approach: to work with anybody, anytime and anyplace.
This approach is shared by the recent generation of nomad architects and creatives, of which I am also part. Ludovica Cirillo is also one of them. “I have always been passionate about the concept of reuse, and I apply it in my everyday life as a designer and architect,” says Ludovica. Italian-born, she studied in London and then moved to Japan to work at Kengo Kuma and Associates. Her passion for reuse and recycling brought her to create ByLUDO in 2008 “to show the possibilities and artistic expressions of the environmental practice of reuse.”
The brand focuses on recycled technological waste used to create beautiful ornaments and art pieces. The brand’s motto and main inspiration is the famous quote by Antoine De Lavoisier, “Nothing is created nor destroyed, but everything is transformed”. Wirescapes is only the latest of several events and exhibitions realized since then. In Japan, Ludovica learned the concept of mottainai, which also became the title of a new collection. Another Japanese idea, those of umarekawaru, gave the title to the exhibition realized last year at the Haco Gallery, containing electronic waste reassembled through traditional Japanese craft techniques.
Architecture and photography are two disciplines mutually interconnected, almost symbiotic. So are the architects and the photographers. The serendipitous encounter between Ludovica and Toto Tvalavadze proves this type of symbiosis.
Toto is a Tokyo-based Georgian photographer and independent photo bookmaker. He loves walking, and, at one point in his life, he discovered the meditative power of long walks in the city. Tokyo is perfect for this purpose: it is a vast metropolis and offers intriguing sceneries just waiting to be discovered by a skilled eye. The shoots taken during the long walks are collected in a series of bi-annual photo magazines entitled “Out of Memory”, which are also available at the exhibition. On his website, Toto clarifies that “everything is a work in progress.”
Again, impermanence is the keyword to understand our generation of creatives. We are nomads, curious and changeable. We absorb the cultures of the places we visit and then remix them, generating unedited visions and new possibilities.