[all images: six million dollar man's flickr site]
Check out Christopher Hawthorne's review of the brand new Glass Pavilion at the Toledo Museum of Arts, designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa.
Their joint venture, SANAA, is known mostly for their highly refined, exquisitely detailed mastery of glass, which often produces other-wordly effects of transparency, layering, and pure visual fascination. I've never had the opportunity to see Sejima and Nishizawa's work in person -- although I eagerly await their forthcoming New Museum on the Bowery in New York -- but from what I can tell, there's something going on in their architecture that really distinguishes them from the rest of the contemporary field. I'm not really sure what it is yet. Something to do with an understated play with reflection, light, and visual relationships. But not in the modernist mode -- rather, SANAA operate with a completely postmodern sensibility. And I'm not talking about the disorienting, blingy, hall-of-mirrors postmodernism espoused by people like John Portman and theorized by people like Fredric Jameson, or the ridiculous Wallpaper magazine, empty neo-modernism that Hawthorne accurately criticizes. This work is much more hands-off and open to interpretation, and there is always much more to their projects than meets the eye. As you can tell, I'm having trouble verbalizing the appeal of their work -- as is Hawthorne, who suggests a contrast between SANAA's architecture and the bland minimalism that we find everywhere but, like me, fails to explain exactly why they're different. That's the point though. It's the irreducibility, the confusion, and the refusal of this work to be pigeonholed that makes it superb.