Monday, April 9, 2012

I.S.T.Y.O: A brief exploration of the project, part 1

Photos and cover design
by K.K.W
I.S.T.Y.O: A brief exploration of the project, part 1. By K.K.W 

"Like doctors, there is a certain ethic of the architect: your not suppose to make anything worse." Says Aleksandar Mergold, architect and professor at Cornell university (#1).

Skopje, Macedonia.
Photo courtesy of Matej Bogdanovski
When you think about this statement and consider modern architecture, Skopje or New York city, its true and proper. However, as with so many things its also matter of opinion: that of the creator, the critic and viewer(s). And generally its the opinion of the powerful that counts.

In most major cities today new and recent architecture have many things in common- high use of glass or other similar materials, odd shapes and or style that sets them apart from their older counterparts. Depending on the structure or building in question they generally earn as much praise as contempt. And all have a hand, via their creators and backers, in the slow demise of their respective cities while creating something else at the same time. Hence the name of this project: In the shadow of the young ones/Vo senkata na mladite, a multi-media visual arts project, that seeks to examine this looming issue in New York and Skopje, involving artists from both cities.     
NYC: Columbia UN sector.
Photo by K.K.W
Both NYC and Skopje are experiencing large amounts of architectural construction though each for somewhat different reasons, depending on which buildings your speaking of. In the two cities its a matter of commercial, residential, and civic construction. Between the two NYC has more "Green" buildings and some that meet the 'LEED'(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) design standards. For NYC architecture is mostly under the influence of "Modern style" with few exceptions. While in Skopje its the same, though with the added turn towards a "retro-simplistic" style for the city center and certain other areas. The designs for such in Skopje are based on classical elements that many view as 'kitschy' and turning the city into an eye-sore.    
Skopje, Macedonia.
Photo courtesy of Meglena Visinska 
The heart of the issue is architectural preservation vs change, political control and influence, style, economics and conformity. In NYC it boils down to many new residential buildings (cheap & expensive) leading to rapid and irreversible gentrification. For Skopje its construction of the 'kitsch' via heavy nationalism('Skopje 2014' project),  and what some would call wrongful use of funds that could go towards more important problems. The ruling political party, VMRO-DPMNE, in Macedonia fully backs the project, and at present it looms over the country like storm clouds ready to break. 

"Just when we thought that our dear government had reached the absolute heights of stupidity, they surprise us with going even higher!!! Hard to believe that anybody with at least some intelligence, sense of social responsibility and inkling of what is beauty could come up with such a nightmare vision STOP THEIR SKOPJE 2014, SAVE OUR SKOPJE NOW!" -Dana (#2)
"Jealousy and stupidity is the main reason that some people or opposition party sympathizer are against this project. The SDSM (opozition) party was ruling for 15 years and never built a single thing in Macedonia. My question is where did all that money go?
VMRO-DPMNE to current leading party has been actively building, rebuilding and fixing different infrastructures within Macedonia. The irony here is that the SDSM party is arguing against any kind of construction withing Skopje, the capital, because it would destroy the communist look of the city, which was actually designed after the big earthquake in 1963.
But their main concern is actually that they will never get back to power due to the fact that in 15 years of ruling, they never did anything for the people but fill up their own bank accounts and start-up their own businesses.
I fully support the Skopje 2014 project, and majority of Macedonians support it as well, beside what is being written here on this website." Goran (#3)

In NYC politics are intertwined with much of the new architecture, although its more behind the scenes. And yet it could be quite up-front depending on the building(s) in question. 'The Freedom Tower' is one major example of politics and architectural design given its ties to "9/11". On the one hand its part of the changing face of the city, and on the other its major political rallying point for many, with a touch of religious zeal.

"For the moron who rated this building a 1, go..... yourself!!! It's obvious you don't know anything about what happened at ground zero, so you have no right to say garbage!!! This building isn't just an office building, it's a symbol of American pride and perserverence! God bless!"  Alex (#4)

"i use to live in an european country called Latvia and I had never knew anything about 911 because i was young and the i got adopted in 2010 and I moved to USA. When i saw Rising Rebuilding ground 0 i started to cry it was so sad and i feel sorry for the people that died that day. But there was no way fire fighters could save them.They were heroes and I pray for all those souls that passed away that day Lord Bless America."  Matthew G. Harris (#5)

Its all these elements that make both cities so interesting when comparing their architecture,  and the effects they have on the people who live there. Love them, hate them, or ignore the matter all together, but these "young ones" are here to stay. If you would like to know more go (#2 & 3 taken from this post) (#4 & 5 taken from this post) #1 taken from "NY's most loathed architect: Its Karl Fischer, designer of glass boxes" by Maureen Callahan for the New York Post- online. 
"Art is the reason, art is the way" 

Skopje: original photos by
Matej Bogdanovski,
digital augmentation by K.K.W

NYC: Korea-town sector 32nd & B'way.
Photo by K.K.W

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