rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
 

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york

rem koolhaas and OMA’s think tank, AMO, led by samir bantal, explore radical change in the world’s non-urban territories in a new exhibition on view at new york’s guggenheim. rather than an art or architecture show, the display — titled ‘countryside, the future’ — is referred to as ‘an effort to explore the contours of a new countryside’. the exhibition, which occupies the entirety of the frank lloyd wright-designed rotunda, uses the building’s architecture to tell a story that unfolds as visitors ascend the famous spiraling circulation route.

 

designboom attended the press preview of the exhibition, where koolhaas and his team explained how a five-year long research project culminated in this landmark show.

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
image by david heald © solomon r. guggenheim foundation (also main image)

 

 

‘in the past decade, I have noticed that while much of our energies and intelligence have been focused on the urban areas of the world, the countryside has changed dramatically under the influence of global warming, the market economy, american tech companies, african and european initiatives, chinese politics, and other forces,’ says koolhaas, who orchestrated the exhibtion at the guggenheim alongside samir bantal, director of AMO. ‘this story is largely untold, and it is particularly meaningful for AMO to present it in one of the world’s great museums in one of the world’s densest cities.’

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
image © designboom

 

 

the exhibition, which remains on view until august 14, 2020, contests the assumption that ever-increasing urbanization is inevitable, exploring radical changes in the rural, remote, and wild territories collectively identified as ‘countryside’, or the 98% of the earth’s surface not occupied by cities. by shifting his studies away from cities, and towards the countryside (a term the organizers admit is ‘glaringly inadequate’), koolhaas hopes to shine a light on corners of the earth that have remained examined and undocumented.

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
image by laurian ghinitoiu, courtesy of AMO

 

 

a central thesis of the exhibition is that our current form of urban life has necessitated the organization, abstraction, and automation of the countryside at an unprecedented scale. the exhibition points to data warehouses and fulfillment centers, as well as the effects that genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, robotic automation, economic innovation, worker migration, and the private purchase of land for ecological preservation have on the countryside. global warming is another thread that runs throughout the show, with particular attention given to the thawing of permafrost and its potentially catastrophic consequences.

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
image by david heald © solomon r. guggenheim foundation

 

 

outside the museum, a hermetically-sealed industrial grow container cultivates tomatoes under pink LED lights, while also positioned at the entrance is a high-tech, state-of-the-art deutz-fahr tractor used in industrial farming. internally, on the publicly accessible street-level floor of the museum are cut-outs, objects, and extracts in the style of an ancient roman unswept floor. suspended above the fountain in the rotunda is a small imaging satellite, an industrial-size bale of hay, and a COTSbot — a predatory starfish-killing underwater drone.

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
image by laurian ghinitoiu, courtesy of AMO

 

 

koolhaas’ essay, titled ‘?,’ composed of questions related to the countryside, is featured on the wall of the high gallery alongside an animated map that identifies the geographic scope of the project. also introduced on level 1 is the ‘semiotics column,’ created by journalist niklas maak with students at the harvard graduate school of design. here, one of the few vertical elements of the guggenheim museum building is plastered with a matrix of images from advertisements, fashion campaigns, toys, and country music to illustrate fantasies and stereotypes of rural life.

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
image © designboom

 

 

on level 2, a 180-foot-long, full-height, fully saturated curtain tells a punctuated story of leisure in the countryside. using visual and textual collage, the curtain begins with early roman and chinese cultures and cuts forward in time through episodes in europe and america, from marie antoinette to hippie counterculture, to the current global wellness industry that profits from a natural world conditioned for corporate retreats and curated adventure.

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
image © designboom

 

 

through a series of eight case studies focused on the 20th century, level 3 provides representative examples of ‘political redesign,’ the application of political will and vision to the transformation of the countryside at territorial scale. such acts, proposed and effected by various political regimes, are profiled, from dictatorship to democracy. case studies include a prototype of a nineteenth-century commune, efforts to recondition the landscape of the soviet union in the twentieth century, and a food security program put into effect in qatar in 2017.

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
image by david heald © solomon r. guggenheim foundation

 

 

level 4 considers the countryside as a frontier for experimentation. a carousel of photographic evidence, paired with firsthand texts and stories by and from locals, it presents a panoramic view of new social structures from china, africa, europe, and the US. among the examples featured are european villages revitalized by welcoming refugees; chinese villages focused on a form of twenty-first-century rural life; and innovation and development in southern kenya.

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
image by david heald © solomon r. guggenheim foundation

 

 

featured on ramp 5 are complex case studies that counter accepted notions of nature through the lens of its preservation: in uganda, the unintended consequences of conservation success with the mountain gorilla; in siberia, the global and local impact of thawing permafrost; in patagonia, large-scale land acquisitions by wealthy individuals and private conservation organizations.

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
image by laurian ghinitoiu, courtesy of AMO

 

 

finally, on level 6 at the top of the museum’s spiral, the exhibition explores cartesian rationalism in the countryside. large hanging panels featuring images and projections are paired with contemporary agricultural equipment from the field and lab. throughout, robotic sculptures roam the ramp, turning the fixed objects into a backdrop for surprising juxtapositions. among the case studies are a look at high-tech indoor farming in the netherlands; large-scale precision farming in the US; a machine designed to measure photosynthesis; and fish farming on land.

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
image by laurian ghinitoiu, courtesy of AMO

 

 

to coincide with the opening of the exhibition, a book — titled ‘countryside, a report’ — has been published by the guggenheim museum and taschen. serving as the official companion to the exhibition, the book gathers travelogue essays exploring territories marked by ‘global forces and experimentation at the edge of our consciousness’. the publication has been designed by irma boom, who drew inspiration for the book’s pocket-sized concept, as well as its typography and layout, from her research in the vatican library. boom was also heavily involved in the design of the exhibition.

 

‘countryside, the future’ remains on view at the solomon r. guggenheim museum until august 14, 2020.

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
image by david heald © solomon r. guggenheim foundation

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
image by laurian ghinitoiu, courtesy of AMO

rem koolhaas + AMO explore the future of the countryside at the guggenheim in new york
image © designboom

 

 

exhibition info:

 

exhibition: countryside, the future
venue: solomon r. guggenheim museum, 1071 fifth avenue, new york
dates: february 20 – august 14, 2020
accompanying book: countryside, a report

 

countryside, the future is organized by: troy conrad therrien, curator of architecture and digital initiatives, at the solomon r. guggenheim museum, in collaboration with rem koolhaas and samir bantal, anne schneider, alexandr zinoviev, sebastian bernardy, rita varjabedian, yotam ben hur, valentin bansac, with ashley mendelsohn, assistant curator, architecture and digital initiatives, at the guggenheim

 

key collaborators include: niklas maak, irma boom, federico martelli/cookies, janna bystrykh, stephan petermann, clemens driessen, lenora ditzler, kayoko ota, linda nkatha, etta mideva madete, keigo kobayashi, ingo niermann, james westcott, jiang jun, alexandra kharitonova, sebastien marot, fatma al sahlawi, vivian song, and additional faculty and students at the harvard graduate school of design; the central academy of fine arts, beijing; wageningen university and research, netherlands; design academy eindhoven, netherlands; and the university of nairobi

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