Highly artificial and sterile environments are employed to create the ideal organic specimen. As Rem Koolhaas explains in the introduction to this exhibition, over the last 20 years he had noticed changes in a Swiss village he often visited. Then it was the discovery of a charming photograph of Russian peasant farmers along with another of the alienating, red-lit space of a contemporary Dutch greenhouse growing tomatoes. Working with lots of live ammo from AMO the research group of his Office for Metropolitan Architecture , his posse takes off to four continents; north, south, east, and west, to study ways to save Mother Earth. The result is a torrent of words, images, and artifacts—including farmer Barbie dolls—unspooled along the great Guggenheim ramp on the walls, floors and ceilings. This hot mess of a show is at once provocative, fascinating, enraging, disturbing, barely hopeful, and contradictory. But for a show that presents itself as research and reportage, it has curious lacunae in its historical perspective and contemporary context. For example, global warming is dealt peripherally with examples such as the melting Siberian permafrost.
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Suspended above his bald head was a miniature yellow submarine with a long needle at one end, like a bayonet. The device, Koolhaas explained, was something Australians developed to exterminate starfish. But the juxtaposition of eclectic exhibits had the feel of Koolhaas free-associating. Koolhaas, who is seventy-five and was wearing a version of country attire black turtleneck, brown slacks, black sneakers , loped up the ramps at a decidedly urban pace. There was an inherent respect for nature. An archival German documentary played on a screen, showing the Autobahn as a way for Germans to experience the pastoral.
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The aim is to highlight advancements in rural areas through a series of case studies. Koolhaas' talk took place in the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum 's lecture theatre ahead of the exhibition's opening. The event marked 40 years since he launched his city-focused book Delirious New York in the same venue — and a drastic switch in topic. Koolhaas said he chose to move his focus away from cities as the "massive neglect of the countryside" had made him "nervous" and "dissatisfied" in the past 10 years. The Guggenheim exhibition aims to rectify this.
The architect, a champion of cities, now turns a spotlight on the countryside in a sprawling new exhibition about the other 98 percent of the world. By Michael Kimmelman. We had gotten together in the Rotterdam offices of OMA. I had come to the Netherlands to talk with Mr. Anticipating the obvious criticism, Mr. By not-urban territory, in other words, Mr. Koolhaas means farms and wilderness and oceans and villages — the Kalahari, the Great Barrier Reef and the Dakotas — but also dense exurban clusters of high-tech industrial sites and mega-campuses for Amazon fulfillment centers and Tesla giga-factories in places like the high desert outside Reno, Nevada. The show pings from urbanizing villages in Kenya along Chinese-funded train routes, to endangered communities in Siberia where climate change is hastening the melt of permafrost. And a bay in the Guggenheim rotunda is devoted to Iraqi, Syrian and other immigrants resuscitating ghost towns like Camini, in Calabria, Italy, and the village of Manheim , near Cologne, Germany. Years in gestation, the show is the collective output of an army of collaborators and students.