Sparano + Mooney Architecture and our team of Los Angeles architects and designers have established a fantastic working relationship with The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, and we were delighted when the institution approached us to provide architectural services and interior remodeling for their latest exhibition of cutting-edge contemporary art, titled Adrián Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance. We have also collaborated with MOCA on acclaimed shows by Matthew Barney and of works from the 1990s at the museum, and were more than happy to partner on this occasion to bring Villar Rojas’ eclectic and boundary-defying art to The Geffen’s savvy audience.
For this show, Sparano + Mooney Architecture worked with Villar Rojas’ proposed layout for the exhibit, made modifications in order for it to comply with current codes, such as building and fire, and also collaborated with structural engineers to ensure columnar components of the space held up.
Installation view of “Adrián Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance”, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. Courtesy of MOCA, the artist, and kurimanzutto (Mexico City); photo by Michael Zabe.
Adrián Villar Rojas (b.1980) is a South American artist whose work embodies the abstract, abject and ephemeral. His object-based “environments” and gallery-specific interventions exist in a liminal space void of typical past/present/future dichotomies. Food waste, raw meat, concrete, geological formations and flora and fauna are juxtaposed in his work, and the viewer is asked to contemplate at what stage a “work of art” is created. Is it when the items are conceived? Installed? When they are revealed to the first visitors? Or when they break down, morph and decay? These so-called “post-human” artworks – some of which are inert sculptures, some organic totems and manufactured fossils, some inorganic relics – certainly defy canonical, art historical categorization. And, perhaps that is Villar Rojas’ motive: to treat the exhibition space as an evolving realm that promotes decomposition and obsolescence of these alien art forms, and to comment critically on the commercial nature of the institutional art world. Though the work may be at times obscure, there is nevertheless a romanticized notion to his approach. Villar Rojas creates art that is at once otherworldly and visceral and in doing so, we are confronted with contemplating uncomfortable truths about our own material existence in time and space.
Installation view of “Adrián Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance”, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. Photo courtesy Sparano + Mooney Architecture.
Villar Rojas’ approach to curating his work is unique, but is strikingly similar to how we approach our own work as contemporary architects and designers. Villar Rojas produces art that is uncompromisingly site-specific; he often spends a great deal of time in the spaces he will exhibit his work in order to understand the limits and potential of these architectural interiors, and to garner as much understanding of the social, cultural, geographical, and institutional contexts as possible. In this way, Villar Rojas is able to consider the “poetics of space” and how a venue’s structural setting deeply affects a visitor’s perception of his work. At Sparano + Mooney Architecture, we explore hyper-specific cultural cues culled from each project’s client, program and/or site. This research is used to provide the architectural order and transcend convention. We too seek to construct a more meaningful relationship between modern architecture and the experience of its inhabitants. Therefore, the underlying organization of our work is a deliberate choice to position people at dynamic centers of architecture and to let space and form unfold around a continuous path of travel. Though our fields are quite different, we feel an affinity to the approach used by Villar Rojas and are pleased to have been a part of this exhibition at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. We look forward to the next opportunity to collaborate with this awesome Los Angeles museum and cultural institution!
Site-specific conceptual constructs by Sparano + Mooney Architecture.