2018-05-23 10:40Press release

ArkDes, Petra Gipp, and Mikael Olsson Shed New Light on Sigurd Lewerentz at 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale

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In response to the explosion of international interest and research surrounding Sigurd Lewerentz (1885-1975), Sweden’s most renowned 20th Century architect, ArkDes (The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design), with Petra Gipp and Mikael Olsson, presents Freestanding – an exhibition in the Central Pavilion at FREESPACE, the 16th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia.

Freestanding explores three freestanding canopies from three of Lewerentz’ most well-known religious buildings through a collection of historical drawings and newly-commissioned interpretative works. Curated and produced by ArkDes in response to an invitation to participate from artistic directors Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, the exhibition looks at ways in which extra spatial gifts can contribute to the experience of a place, a landscape, and the rituals that surround death and burial. Architect Petra Gipp has designed large-scale models for the exhibition that create an extraordinary spatial experience for the visitor, and artist Mikael Olsson has taken new photographs of the structures to show the buildings in their contemporary settings.

About Freestanding

Sigurd Lewerentz’s chapels are marked by an extraordinary imaginative synthesis of northern aesthetic traditions and burial practices in the context of a modernising world. He wrote and spoke little but, in recent years, his work has gripped the imaginations of a generation of architects who look to it for its power, symbolic range, and its poetic, experiential qualities.

Freestanding focuses on three canopies from three of Lewerentz’s most famous religious buildings: the Chapel of the Resurrection at the Woodland Cemetery (1925), Stockholm; the Chapels of St. Knut and St. Gertrud at the Eastern Cemetery, Malmö (1943); and St. Mark’s Church at Björkhagen, Stockholm (1960). Simple in form, these canopies are central to the ritual meaning of the buildings they correspond to, contributing significantly to the visual image of the churches they accompany. The three structures were completed across the span of Lewerentz's career, each designed in a different architectural style to one another. Despite this stylistic diversity, they all create places for public life between the scales of the landscape and the interior.

Through drawings, photography, and large-scale models, Freestanding unfolds the spatial power of the canopies in the form of a three-act play: an inhabitable, sectional scenography and a fabric of experiences that suggest ways in which extra spatial gifts can form the heart of the experience of a place, a ritual, and a landscape.

Swedish architect Petra Gipp has designed three large-scale section models which allow for a unique reading of the canopies – how they make a place for people between the breadth of a landscape and the massiveness of a building. Gipp’s models are abstractions, suppressing scale and material in favour of spatial effects.

New photographs taken by Swedish artist Mikael Olsson show the three projects as living, contemporary scenographies. In dissecting and rearranging the structures and their surroundings, the photographs reveal new perspectives on their design. The pictures evoke movement and help to reveal how we perceive distance and intimacy through architectural gestures.

Sigurd Lewerentz's drawings on display in Freestanding have never before been shown together. As a sequence, they help to establish the spatial narratives of the canopies, collectively and alone: perspectives that show how they mediate their respective landscapes and interiors, alongside plans, elevations and detail drawings that show the diagrammatic composition of these outdoor spaces and their relationship to the main body of the buildings.

“Our participation in the main exhibition of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia has provided us with the chance to present material from the museum’s world-class collection on an international stage. We are proud to have collaborated with two of Sweden’s most respected artists on a project that bridges historical and contemporary Swedish architecture in the context of the FREESPACE manifesto,” says Kieran Long, director of ArkDes.

In 2020, ArkDes will stage the first major exhibition on Sigurd Lewerentz since the 1980s, presenting an in-depth view of the architect’s most well-known buildings while shedding light on projects that have hitherto been overlooked. Freestanding is one strand of the museum’s research and work on the Lewerentz collection.

Exhibited Architects/Artists in Freestanding

Petra Gipp (Architect, Stockholm)

Petra Gipp is an architect based in Stockholm, Sweden, and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts. Her work seeks to seamlessly blend architectural and sculptural expression, while her approach is one of sensitivity to location, light, and volume. Her most well-known works include the award-winning Kivik Art Centre and the inventor’s studio The Cathedral – the latter of which earned her a nomination for the Mies van der Rohe Prize in 2015. In 2016 she was highlighted by Architizer as one of 26 women in history that changed architecture. Gipp has exhibited widely, and has presented work at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012, 2014 and 2016. In Spring 2018 she opened a solo exhibition at Stockholm’s Liljevalchs Art Museum, where her latest book passage/shaft/niche/lining/nave – wandering (Arvinius + Orfeus, 2018) was launched.

www.gipparkitektur.se

Mikael Olsson (Artist, Stockholm)

Mikael Olsson is an artist living in Stockholm, Sweden, having studied photography at the University of Gothenburg. In Södrakull Frösakull (Steidl, 2011) he investigated ideas about perception and representation through two architectural works by Bruno Mathsson, a Swedish Modernist designer. In addition to solo exhibitions—including those at the Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg, Galerie Nordenhake, and the Arthur Ross Gallery at Columbia University in New York City—Olsson is a regular contributor to T Magazine (New York Times). In his forthcoming work on|auf (Steidl, 2018), which will be accompanied with an essay by Péter Nádas, Olsson has undertaken a photographic study of Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei’s temporary pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery in London (2012). Olsson also performed in the Palme d’Or winning film The Square, directed by Ruben Östlund and in the upcoming film Suspiria (2018), directed by Luca Guadagnino. He is represented by Galerie Nordenhake.

www.mikaelolsson.se

Sigurd Lewerentz (Architect, 1885-1975)

Sigurd Lewerentz is a seminal figure in modern Swedish architecture. His extraordinary body of work spanned the spectrum of architectural typology, from chapels and landscapes to storefronts and industrial design. Born in Bjärtrå in northern Sweden, Lewerentz received his basic architectural education at Chalmers Polytechnic in Gothenburg. He founded his own practice in 1910 and, five years later, attained first prize in the competition for a new cemetery in Stockholm, in collaboration with Gunnar Asplund.

Lewerentz’s main contribution to the Woodland Cemetery, besides its landscape, was the neoclassical Resurrection Chapel (1925) [exhibited in Freestanding].

Just before the Stockholm Exhibition of 1930, Lewerentz founded IDESTA – a manufacturer of high-end door and window units made from metal. In the mid-1930s, he began to develop an architecture characterised by pronounced materiality, embodied by Villa Edstrand (1936). More refined but with a similar emphasis on materiality, Lewerentz completed the Chapels of St. Knut and St. Gertrude at the Eastern Cemetery in Malmö in 1943 [exhibited in Freestanding].

Lewerentz’s rise to international fame came with the completion of two brick built churches he designed during the final decades of his life: St. Mark’s Church in Björkhagen (1960) [exhibited in Freestanding], and St. Peter’s Church in Klippan (1966).

ArkDes at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia

Upon the invitation of Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, ArkDes’ participation in the 16th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia has been led by Kieran Long (Director, ArkDes), Johan Örn (Curator of Collections, ArkDes), and James Taylor-Foster (Curator of Contemporary Architecture and Design, ArkDes).

ArkDes has also contributed to two additional projects at the biennale: a project for FREESPACE by the Swedish architect and academic Elisabeth Hatz, located in the Central Pavilion (Giardini), and the inaugural Pavilion of the Holy See—Vatican Chapels—curated by Francesco Dal Co, which can be found on the Isola di San Giorgio, Venice.

Notes to Editors

The 16th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia will run from 26 May 2018 to 25 November 2018 in Venice, Italy. Freestanding is exhibited as part of FREESPACE in the Central Pavilion of the Giardini della Biennale. 

In 2020, ArkDes will stage the first major exhibition on Sigurd Lewerentz since the 1980s, presenting an in-depth view of the architect’s most well-known buildings while shedding light on projects that have hitherto been overlooked.

About ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Designs

Located in central Stockholm, ArkDes is a museum and an arena for debate and discussion about the future of architecture, design, citizenship and public life. Concurrent to our role as a cultural institution, ArkDes is also a government authority with a unique mandate to advise, impact, and imagine future urban policies in Sweden. We care for and work with the national collection of architecture and provide a research platform dedicated to studying and responding to contemporary urban challenges.

ABOUT ARKDES, THE SWEDISH CENTRE FOR ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN

ArkDes is Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design. It is a museum, a study centre and an arena for debate and discussion about the future of architecture, design and citizenship.

Our mission is to increase knowledge of and cultivate debate about how architecture and design affect our lives as citizens.Sweden is in the middle of an unprecedented building boom, one that will define its towns and cities for decades to come. The work of ArkDes aims to influence this change through debate, exhibitions, campaigns and research relating to Swedish and international architecture and design. We aim to put the citizens at the centre of the debate and look at the world through their eyes.


About ArkDes (The Swedish centre for architecture and design)

ArkDes is Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design. It is a museum, a study centre and an arena for debate and discussion about the future of architecture, design and citizenship.