#koolreview 02, content
Architects do not put up exhibitions of their work in India. It is not present in our contemporary culture of architectural making. It does not have patronage like in the west. We do not do things that way. Getting featured in magazines is our thing. When others say they like our buildings, spatial products we feel validated. That is all about it. There is no active platform in the country where architectural practices conduct public display of ideas or for that matter invite criticism of their concepts. As a lack of experience in dealing with this frame of practice to review Content is limiting. To express an opinion about an exhibition catalogue is like describing a picture of a painting, looking at art without its aura. The advantage Rem’s books provide is the access to the notion that firstly they are objects to look, engage with, and then if there is interest, read the text. This makes sense commercially, in some respects because not all are interested in reading books they buy. Some would just like to look at them. Those who buy to read gets something extra here. With S,M,L,XL the mandate was to position OMA and its practice agendas. As an extension Content introduces AMO, the now newly staged research department of the organisation. There is no manifesto here, but an update about an almost expired set of projects executed either physically or virtually between 1996 and 2003. The magazine format serves the agenda of ephemerality here. Content exhibits the mess they have created in a span of seven years in the pursuit of ‘going east’. A Eurocentric Vision and the American Dream give way to an urgency to access the Chinese Market. As a construct, the project (exhibition + book), an interface of theory and everyday practices points a way of exporting an aesthetic culture or how a practice has made an attempt to do so. Narrative strategies remain almost the same where a pace is set to facilitate a directed trajectory. In the almost centre we get a reminder that we should ideally check out the exhibition too. The necessity to go east is a strategy worked in at the AMO Atlas, that guides you either by design or default there is an urgency to relocate to somewhere in the east. Rather than books, most of their research finds a way into magazines, an additional cravat built-in dictating aspirations of the practice. When you listen to any greatest hits’ album, all the songs seem exhilarating. This is something like that. It also makes a deliberate effort to not show you things that you will otherwise find in an A+U or Domus. There are no standard-issue projections of buildings or its linear descriptions. Every possible way to present a project they attempt. Sometimes you end up reading here and there. East is a grand finale closing with the CCTV project. Content is more architectural than S,M,L,XL. It also gives you a better glimpse of the workings of OMAMO. It winds down as it began, like a pace after an intense run. Cooling off with a list of all they have done, collecting details as thumbnail, name, status, location, program, and team. To break the monotony certain projects, have their concepts described accompanied with larger pictures. While S,M,L,XL reengineered an architectural monograph, here they push the model again, this time locating it as a bookazine. The attempt to rethink boundaries when there is no demand for it is what sets the practice aside, given them the edge. Content seems more relevant today than S,M,L,XL was then. Event schedules, patents, timelines and line charts, even as tricks, cheap or otherwise could inspire the discerning, though inspiration is not on the agenda. What makes it stand out is its position as an abstract to several other book projects that are both included in part and led to in the future. A guide of things to come.