Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Zaha Hadid Strikes Again

Since the opening of Cincinnati’s new Contemporary Art Center, I’ve heard only criticism of Hadid’s design. It seems as though everyone struggles not with the exhibitions at the CAC as much as with the building. Hadid’s structure upstages and so interferes with the exhibitions so people complain. Perhaps because I do not visit the CAC too often, I simply accept these critiques without question. Admittedly, I’m no architect, nor am I well versed in architectural style. Yet, I cannot help but to note a certain anti-art architecture criticism that I see reappearing with her latest structure, the Chanel Pavilion in New York’s Central Park.

Here, Hadid has designed a temporary exhibition space to house works influence by Chanel. I am in complete agreement with Nicolai Ourourssoff’s review in the NY Times. The economic timeliness of this exhibit could not be much worse. Yet what is more troubling is the fact that it took Christo and Jean-Claude over 25 years to gain permission to erect The Gates in Central Park. The resistance was based mostly on the risk of commercializing and physically harming this green space. Christo and Jean Claude are two artists who have devoted their work to the environment and can safely claim each of their pieces, including The Gates, is a celebration of the space in which they temporarily reside. I can't help but wonder if Chanel was audacious enough to mention The Gates in their proposal to erect Hadid's capsule in the park.

That a mere donation to the Central Park Conservatory permits Hadid and Chanel to sleep well at night is further testament to a displaced idealism. Another example of anti-art architecture.