Monthly Archives: May 2013

A week of architecture 041Last week I took my research to the faculty of Architecture and Design, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso. It felt wonderful to play at being a student in this environment: sunshine and clean white architecture, a combination of angles and curves arranged on a hilltop facing the sea. The white staircases spiralling up into the sky, a great pine tree shading the decking where students sat and ate their lunch. Around the corner from a glass-cased library, a temple-like workshop was filled with students building small constructions.

A week of architecture 037The faculty is located in the neighbourhood of Recreo, between ramshackle Valparaiso and luxurious Vina del Mar, and looks out to the sea from its seat in the hills. When I first arrived in Valparaiso some residents described the city of colourful houses as being like a cinema or a theatre; where the sea is a screen and all of the houses, seats, with a view of the spectacle. In this way the sea is both a gift (something which Pablo Neruda seemed to appreciate with a particular gluttony for soaring vistas) and something which poses a problem for the architect.

A week of architecture 042When I interviewed architect and co-founder of the Ciudad Abierta, David Jolly, he explained that in Ritoque they had kept their interiors enclosed and separate from the eternal presence of the sea. “If we want to see the sea we can go out there, we can walk on the beach, we can go for a run,” he said, describing how the Open City Group had gone against the elemental pull of the popular design tendency to worship the sea in order to keep interiors consistent as interiors.

A week of architecture 019Jolly explained the motivation as being a difference between daily life and leisure time, “when someone is on holidays they have a less complex life; you get up and see the sea, you read something. It’s relaxed. But when you are in full life you have a more complex relationship with the surroundings, so you don’t just see the sea as a screen.” But I can’t help feeling that if you surrender to the sea you open yourself to the possibility of infusing everyday life with the contented-feeling of perpetual holiday. As I sat working at a glass table with a view through the open window of the expansive Pacific Ocean I didn’t find this a distraction, but an invigoration of everything I was doing and everything I needed the motivation to do.


b&bI’m sad to be missing the new exhibition opening at the WW Gallery next Tuesday night, especially after the cheeky preview I got of the show at Broughton & Birnie’s studio in March. Go see it if you can, words can’t do justice to the experience promised.

Broughton & Birnie | BERLIN
The Forger’s Tale: The Quest for Fame and Fortune

22 May – 13 July 2013
Preview 6-9pm Tues 21st May
Also open on Saturday 18th May 12-8pm for EC1/WC1 Galleries Day

Open Weds – Fri 11 – 6pm; Sat 11 – 4pm
WW Gallery, 34/35 Hatton Garden EC1N 8DX


WW Gallery is pleased to present Broughton & Birnie’s The Forger’s Tale: The Quest for Fame & Fortune, an immersive installation and exhibition chronicling the tragic events that led to the demise of twentieth century forger Georg Bruni.

Focusing upon the events surrounding the sale of a forged Picasso painting to a Nazi collector, the show takes a detail from the original Forger’s Tale exhibition, about the life and times of Georg Bruni held at the Crypt Gallery in May 2012. Weaving fact and fiction in a richly detailed forgery of their own, Broughton & Birnie play with plausibility and authority in a post-internet world of self-constructed realities and identities.

The Quest for Fame & Fortune presents an experiential narrative, in which the viewer is led through Bruni’s story room by room. From the documentary cinema kiosk, to the Collectors and Regenerate Rooms surveying German art from the Berlin Dada exhibition and the Degenerate Art Show, and finally to the wild and grotesque performance of the Cabaret; the spirit and atmosphere of Bruni’s Berlin is evoked.

Akin to the information overload encountered on the vast data resource of the web, the experience of Bruni’s world overwhelms us. Pandering to an information hungry and status-obsessed society, Broughton & Birnie offer a sprawling maze of information within which the viewer is able to pick up and follow individual threads. But as counterfeiters they have also left a deliberate trail of deceit. Visual clues including familiar faces from reality television and politics, a-historical props and incongruous paraphernalia: all allow the audience to peel back layers of forged historicity.

Within Broughton & Birnie’s retelling of Germany’s social & political upheavals, the astoundingly creative artistic culture, and the legendary nightlife of the short-lived Weimar Republic, we find parallels with contemporary life that make for an unnerving satire. Combining archive material and old photographs with the manipulative processes of new technology Broughton & Birnie capture the spirit of a past era whilst performing a wicked parody of current pop culture and politics: forcing the two worlds to collide in a flagrant deception.

About Broughton & Birnie
Kevin Broughton and Fiona Birnie have been working and exhibiting together since 2001. They are interested in the influence of the media and technology on society – its role in our perception and relationship with the real world. The technique of collage is at the heart of their work providing an essential metaphor and means of expression for the myriad individual constructs of contemporary reality.
Kevin Broughton
1987-90 West Surrey College of Art & Design – B.A Degree in Fine Art Painting
1992-94 Royal College of Art – M.A Degree in Painting
Fiona Birnie
1985-88 Exeter College of Art & Design – B.A Degree in Photography
Both live & work in London (UK)

Tomorrow I’m going to make the journey north along the coast of Chile to Ciudad Abierta, in Ritoque. I’m going for lunch with the architects are a part of the Amereida Corporation, who live and work on the 275 hectares of coastal land found here between the sea and the forest, the wetlands and the dunes. I’ll be interviewing one of the architects about poetry and its relationship to architecture, for a specially themed issue of T-R-E-M-O-R-S Magazine on sound and architecture.

Vamos a la playa 182A few weeks ago I got the softest of glimpses of Ciudad Abierta in the bright dusted-yellow lights of early evening as I walked along the coastal highway. Despite the roar of the cars beside me, it was the fiercely elemental roar of the sea breaking into foam in the distance which left the greatest aural impression. Between the 275 hectares of the Open City Group and the sea stretches the wetlands and low-lying dunes, the train track dividing the transformations of the landscape from the beach. In this perfect light the rolling curves of the virgin dunes recalled some poetic act gifted to the land by the Amereida in the 70s: silhouettes traversing the tracked peaks. In this light, beyond the fences and electric gates, it looked like a veritable, unobtainable utopia.

Vamos a la playa 110I already have two recordings of the sea for my sound article; tne from the estranged stretch of perfect Vina del Mar sands, and the other from the powerful turbulence of the sea crashing against the rocks at Isla Negra. Tomorrow I hope to record a reading of one of the Amereida’s poems. The poems represent the inauguration of a new construction, and often decide the location and form of the design; an architectural philosophy founded on the poetic.

Vamos a la playa 191