All buildings have an agenda, says Colorado College curator Jessica Hunter Larsen. For example, the new Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center was specifically designed to inspire and facilitate creative action.
The Architecture of Desire, showing inside Cornerstone's I.D.E.A. Space, focuses on the notion that buildings have a vision. The two-part exhibit seeks to show how architecture influences our beliefs and behaviors.
"It's a theme I've been interested in for a long time, about architecture and what its overall goals have always been," says Hunter Larsen. "The utopian ideals of architecture are that good design facilitates good civic behavior. I think that's something that's gotten really lost in our contemporary world."
All too often, Hunter Larsen says, spaces are seen as generic - a basic shelter or enclosure to be constructed at the lowest possible cost.
"Architecture, as a practice, is an artistic endeavor, it's a social endeavor," she says. "We create spaces that shape who we are and reflect who we are as a culture."
Using Cornerstone as inspiration, Hunter Larsen set about finding artists who've created works based on the aforementioned concepts.
When you walk into Cristina Iglesias' installation, "Vegetation Room VI," it feels a little like venturing into a forest and a little like entering a building. The renowned Spanish sculptor bound branches, twigs and leaves into "trees" and cast them in a bronze resin. She then bolted the panels to the sides of the installation, creating a textural industrial feel that still looks organic.
"All of the spaces she creates have this very magical quality," says Hunter Larsen. "It makes you think, 'Is this shelter? Is this inside or outside? What's my relationship to this?' Her work addresses these ideas in a very beautiful and lyrical way."
The other installation, Runa Islam's "Scale (1/16 Inch = 1 foot)," is a video focusing on a building in Gateshead, England designed in the 1960s to be a rooftop restaurant in the middle of a cultural center. The building, a brutalist (raw concrete) structure, was immediately criticized for being ugly, and as a result, was never occupied. Islam re-created the restaurant and her film stars two older men waiting for their lunch, which never arrives. The film has no dialogue; instead, it focuses on events that are normally peripheral in everyday life, such as the waiters rearranging cutlery and the men fidgeting while they wait.
"It's a lot about playing with time," says Hunter Larsen. "The building becomes a character, and it has these couple of different identities."
In November, the second part of the exhibit will feature three videos by Lida Abdul set in post-Taliban Afghanistan. Using ruined homes and other shelters to challenge the notion of "home" as a safe haven, Abdul shows how war has impacted daily life and Afghani culture.