apexart :: Ute Meta Bauer :: block
curated by Ute Meta Bauer
Coordination: Christiane Erharter
Workshop: Yvonne P. Doderer

March 15 - April 15, 2000

291 Church St. New York, NY 10013

Opening reception: Wednesday, March 15, 6-8

block is a project developed through a seminar and workshop for young European artists and architects participating in the theory program of the Institute of Contemporary Art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. The participants have developed two kinds of constructions: individual projections of New York City and a prefabricated structural system, which were joined together at Apex Art.

Participants: Angelika Bartl (Austria), Monika Blaschke (Germany), Pirmin Blum (Switzerland), Sandro Droschl (Austria), Christiane Erharter (Austria), Andreas Fogarasi (Austria), Ulrike Griessmayr (Germany), Kristina Haider (Austria), Andre Krammer (Austria), Stefan Malicky (Austria), Wolfgang May (Germany), Matthias Mayr (Austria), Wolfgang Meisinger (Austria), Yves Mettler (Switzerland), Matthias Meyer (Germany), Karl Spoerk (Austria), Martina Steckholzer (Italy), Gabi Sturm (Austria), Nikola Winkler (Switzerland).

Bauer brochure

download pdf of exhibition brochure

download pdf of press release


"Everybody has their own America, and then they have the pieces of a fantasy America that they think is out there but they can't see. (...) So the fantasy corners of America seem atmospheric because you've pieced them together from scenes in movies and music and lines from books."
Quotes by Andy Warhol:America, Harper & Row New York 1985

Source: online-dictionary wwwebster Main Entry:
1block (...)
6 a (1) : a usually rectangular space (as in a city) enclosed by streets and occupied by or intended for buildings (2) : the distance along one of the sides of such a block b (1) : a large building divided into separate functional units (2) : a line of row houses (3) : a distinctive part of a building or integrated group of buildings. (...)
transitive senses 1a : to make unsuitable for passage or progress by obstruction b archaic : BLOCKADE c: to hinder the passage, progress, or accomplishment of by or as if by interposing an obstruction d: to shut off from view <forest canopy blocking the sun> e: to interfere usually legitimately with (as an opponent) in various games or sports f: to prevent normal functioning of g: to restrict the exchange of (as currency or checks)
3 : to shape on, with, or as if with a block
4 : to secure, support, or provide with a block <block a hat>
synonym see HINDER

Entry Word: block
Function: noun
Synonyms barricade, barrier, blank wall, blockade, roadblock, stop, wall

In 1807 Simeon deWitt, Governeur Morris and John Rutherford are commissioned to design the model that will regulate the 'final and conclusive' occupancy of Manhattan. Four years later they propose (...) 12 avenues running north-south and 155 streets running east-west. With that simple action they describe a city of 13 X 156 = 2,028 blocks (excluding topographical accidents): a matrix that captures, at the same time, all remaining territory and all future activity on the island. The Manhattan Grid. The Grid makes the history of architecture and all previous lessons of urbanism irrelevant. It forces Manhattan's builders to develop a new system of formal values, to invent strategies for the distinction of one block from another. (...) The Grid defines a new balance between control and de-control in which the city can be at the same time ordered and fluid, a metropolis of rigid chaos (...) In the single block - the largest possible area that can fall under architectural control - it develops a maximum unit of urbanistic Ego. (...) Since all Manhattan blocks are identical and emphatically equivalent in the unstated philosophy of the Grid, a mutation in a single one affects all others as a latent possibility: theoretically, each block can now turn into a self-contained enclave of the Irresistible Synthetic. That potential also implies an essential isolation: no longer does the city consist of a more or less homogeneous texture - a mosaic of complementary urban fragments - but each block is now alone like an island, fundamentally on its own. Manhattan turns into a dry archipelago of blocks.
Quotes from Rem Koolhaas: Delirious New York, 001 Publishers Rotterdam 1994

A common alternate method of street arrangement is the grid (...) It has very ancient roots. The Bronze Age villages of northern Italy were laid out in a clear rectangular grid and so was the ancient Indus city of Mohenjo-Daro; Greek colonial cities, Roman camps, and medieval towns (...) were all planned on it. It has been the preferred form for new communities. It is systematic, easy to lay out, and provides equal, rectangular building sites. It allows a numbering system for easy location. The motives for choosing a grid may be philosophic (...) or they may be strictly utilitarian, as when the Commissioners laying out Manhattan in 1811 rejected circles, ovals, and stars and decided that "strait-sided and right-angled houses are the most cheap to build and the most convenient to live in." (...) Size, density, grain, outline, pattern - all are basic aspects of the city's physical form. The impression of monotony arises in part from the lack of necessary specialization; it is not inherent in the pattern (...) Yet towering buildings set on open ground may have only an illusory advantage if overall densities remain high and the open spaces are overloaded. In certain sections, particularly shopping and office areas, there is both a technical and a psychological need for concentration which the open pattern cannot supply (...) The modern city requires a rhythmical balance between enclosure and openness, [between] concentration and freedom.
Quotes from Tridib Banerjee; Michael Southworth (ed): City Sense and City Dense. Writings and Projects of Kevin Lynch, MIT Press 1991

(...) Martha Rosler reports of iron teeth installed in the ground of house entrances in the Bowery that should spoil sleeping comfort for the homeless. At the Viennese Karlsplatz park banks are subdivided through armrests into single seats to prevent people from lying down. By the means of many similar, more or less subtle strategies, social segregation is pushed through. (...) In these days, the new Austrian state apparatus follows ideological more than economic paradigms and protects government buildings and right-wing party headquarters with barricades and water cannons against the new "civil society".(...)
Andreas Fogarasi 2.00

(...)Rudolph Guliani's law and order ideology forces people to disappear under the surface of the city. In its extreme consequence the "zero-tolerance" policy allows no visibility of "the other" of society. (...) If we read Manhattan as Bachelard analyses the house, we identify N.Y.'s underground spaces as a huge Bachelardian cellar which is a sphere of the collective subconscious of the city. The tunnel people are part of the supressed elements of that collective subconscious.(...) In N.Y.C. the uniformity of the grid is confronted with the anarchy of architectural fragments, which are depending on financial speculation. The grid as a real abstraction is in conflict with the organism of the city that N.Y. represents. Manhattan is a social construct with its mechanisms of displacement, repression, gentrification and segregation.(...)The grid allows the spatial proximity of oppositions (Wall Street-Meat Market) while the mental segregation is kept. (...)The existence of people living under the surface of the city in tunnels and chambers means a new occupation and definition of urban structure. A new "social layer" is introduced to Manhattan.(...)
Andre Krammer 2.00

March 16; 6:30pm
Open discussion: "Strategies of Resistance Today: the current situation in Austria"; with participants and guests for further information on the current situation in Austria, we recommend the following links:

March 17: 2 pm
Open discussion: "Feedback / Reflection and Discussion about the project and the collaborative working method"; with participants and guests