Barbican announce major OMA exhibition

a major exhibition on the work of Dutch firm Office for Metropolitan Architecture is to open at the Barbican art gallery in London this October.

Entitled Progress, the exhibition will be curated by Belgian collective Rotor and will run 6 October 2011 to 22 January 2012.

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Here are some more details from the Barbican:

OMA / Progress

6 October 2011 – 22 January 2012, Barbican Art Gallery, London

This autumn Barbican Art Gallery will be transformed by a major exhibition on the architectural – and non-architectural – work of OMA and its research unit, AMO. Led by seven partners – Rem Koolhaas, Reinier de Graaf, Ellen van Loon, Shohei Shigematsu, Iyad Alsaka, David Gianotten and Managing Partner Victor van der Chijs – OMA is widely held to be one of the most influential practices working today.

PROGRESS will explore the radical conceptual, formal and material qualities in the built work of OMA – the result of an unpredictable combination of rigorous research and pure intuition. Acclaimed OMA buildings like the Seattle Central Library (2004) and Casa da Música, Porto (2005) will be examined in new ways together with the office’s current projects, which include the headquarters of China Central Television (CCTV), Beijing, and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (both of which are nearing completion). Recent AMO projects to be interrogated include a blueprint for a Europe-wide renewable energy grid, a curatorial masterplan for the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and Strelka, a new postgraduate school which the office helped to set up in Moscow. These various projects and preoccupations reveal OMA's complex attitude towards the idea of progress.

Jane Alison, Acting Head of Art Galleries, Barbican Centre, says: Planned to coincide with the opening of OMA’s first two buildings in the UK, the HQ of Rothschild Bank here in the City of London and the latest Maggie’s Centre, in Gartnavel, Glasgow, Barbican is delighted to announce our collaboration with OMA to realise the first major exhibition since 2003 devoted to their work. Designed to reflect the breadth of OMA’s practice across the globe, the exhibition will highlight the richness of ideas and formal experiment that has set OMA apart from their contemporaries over the last forty years.

The exhibition will be guest curated by Rotor – a collective based in Brussels, known for their recent exhibition in the Belgian Pavilion at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale. Working with material processes and their use and re-use in architecture, Rotor’s approach will yield fresh insight into both the built projects and conceptual work of OMA and AMO.

Rem Koolhaas, founding partner of OMA, says: This exhibition will be the first time OMA’s work has been shown in depth in the UK. We have chosen to surrender to the forensic abilities of Rotor in order to produce a new translation and consideration of what we (try to) do in architecture and beyond it. We are excited to use the unique spaces of Barbican Art Gallery to reflect the extreme diversity of OMA’s work – in building, researching, writing, and a host of other pursuits that are at the same time intricately connected and apparently random…

The work of OMA’s partners and Rem Koolhaas has received several awards, including the Pritzker Prize for architecture in 2000 and the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 12th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010. As much as OMA’s buildings, Koolhaas’s provocative ideas – from ‘the culture of congestion’ in his seminal book Delirious New York (1978) to Generic City (1995), and Junkspace (2004) – have consistently pushed architectural thinking in new directions. Always innovative and pioneering, OMA is deeply engaged in the changing social and political contexts of our time.

OMA is a leading international partnership practicing architecture, urbanism, and cultural analysis. Its buildings and masterplans around the world insist on intelligent forms while inventing new possibilities for content and everyday use. Through AMO, its research and design studio, the practice works in areas beyond architecture that today have an increasing influence on architecture itself: media, politics, renewable energy, technology, publishing, fashion. OMA is led by seven partners – Rem Koolhaas, Ellen van Loon, Reinier de Graaf, Shohei Shigematsu, Iyad Alsaka, David Gianotten and Managing Partner, Victor van der Chijs – and sustains an international practice with offices in Rotterdam, New York, Beijing and Hong Kong.

Curators of the acclaimed Belgian Pavilion at the 2010 Venice Architecture Biennale, Rotor is a collective based in Brussels. Founded in 2005, Rotor is a group of people sharing a common interest in the material flows in industry and construction. On a practical level, Rotor handles the conception and realisation of design and architectural projects. On a theoretical level, Rotor develops critical positions on material resources and usages through research, publications, writings and conferences.

One of the leading art spaces in the UK, Barbican Art Gallery presents the best of international visual art with a dynamic mix of art, architecture, design, fashion and photography. From acclaimed architects to Turner prize-winning artists,the Gallery exhibits innovators of the 20th and 21st centuries: key players who have shaped developments and stimulated change. Previous architectural exhibitions include Future City: Experiment and Utopia in Architecture 1956 – 2006 (2006); Alvar Aalto: Through the Eyes of Shigeru Ban, (2007) and Le Corbusier – The Art of Architecture (2009).


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