Remember Jimenez Lai's recent Kickstarter project, trying to turn his conceptual project Hefner/Beuys House into a reality at the Architecture Foundation in London? Well, it certainly worked out for him and his Chicago-based architecture practice Bureau Spectacular: the project got funded and the installation Three Little Worlds opened this week, just right on time for the London Festival of Architecture.
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Fascinated by the interplay between storytelling and building, absurdity and speculation, Bureau Spectacular weave architectural design and theory into comic strips that pop from the page into the real world as installations and small buildings.
Jimenez Lai commented on the exhibition: “This installation – Three Little Worlds – is a cartoonish blow up of a fragment inside the Cartoonish Metropolis. It is a comic book someone can walk into, a window into another reality.”
Bureau Spectacular’s scenarios often begin in the form of graphic novels, which are later manifested as built structures. Three Little Worlds merges these two formats, to bring the comic book into the physical world. Combining a wall painting, a specially commissioned graphic novel, and a three-part modular ‘home’, the installation presents slices of life from inside Lai’s Cartoonish Metropolis.
The three reconfigurable ‘rooms’ explore the contemporary performance of living in public, by suggesting themselves as real-world frames from a comic strip. The rooms can face the street as a stage, or cluster together as a home, and will play out the relationship between spectacle and spectator in architecture and performance art, merging Hugh Hefner’s exhibitionism with Joseph Beuys’s conception of art as life, to explore the plural fantasies and realities that architecture can provoke and frame.
The installation can be thought of as an abstract hotel, with Lai himself calling it home over the London Festival of Architecture period, during which he is producing a mural over the walls of the Project Space to introduce further characters from the Cartoonish Metropolis to the gallery. Later in the exhibition a series of invited guests will take up residence in exchange for hosting a range of public events – from film-screenings to dinners, lectures to discos, workshops to art works.
Check the image gallery below for some earlier concept drawings for the Hefner/Beuys House project.