Art in Situ Competition When art and architecture meet in everyday life

The Art in Situ competition of the Order of Architects and Consulting Engineers (Ordre des Architectes et des Ingénieurs-Conseils - OAI) highlights the dialogue between artistic creations and the places where they are exhibited in order to creatively incorporate art into construction and public space. Since the beginning of July 2021, the installation Klangkörper created by Filip Markiewicz, winner of the first Art in Situ competition, has been on display at the OAI headquarters /Forum da Vinci. This will be followed by the installation Reproduction d'éléments by Hisae Ikenaga, the joint winner. ​

Art in Situ: when art interacts with its environment

Art in Situ is a project launched by the OAI in collaboration with the asbl da Vinci and the asbl Art The initiative aims to emphasize the integration of the visual artists' creations into the surrounding area. Indeed, artists are very often confronted with the constraints of the specific places for which they conceive an installation. ​ These requirements lead to innovative solutions or artworks that convey a reflection about the space in which they are displayed.

However, it is not only an interactive process that has to do with the location, but also and above all with the public: the citizens who live in or visit the public places where the creations are exhibited. In this context, the Art in Situ project encourages both visitors and passers-by to look and highlights the importance of culture in the construction of a sense of community.

The incorporation of art in the public space, a question of law

Did you know that in Luxembourg the law provides for the incorporation of art in public institutions? Indeed, the Law of 19 December 2014, on fostering artistic creation, establishes that during the construction of a building by the State, or the realisation of a building by communes or public establishments financed for a significant part by the State, a percentage of the total cost is allocated to the acquisition of works of art to be integrated into buildings with a cultural, educational, social or administrative purpose or designed to receive visitors. Furthermore, the Grand Ducal Regulation of 2 September 2015 sets this percentage at 1% of the overall cost.

Hisae Ikenaga and Filip Markiewicz, joint winners of the first edition of the Art in Situ competition
© Nader Gavami, all rights reserved

The first edition of the competition was launched in December 2020 and was a great success, with 18 submissions of application, of which 17 were selected. By the end of March 2021, the OAI announced the winners: the joint prize was awarded to the artists Filip Markiewicz and Hisae Ikenaga.

The body of resonance by Filip Markiewicz

Filip Markiewicz (1980, Esch-sur-Alzette) is a Polish-Luxembourg visual artist who expresses himself through different forms such as drawing, painting, music, video and installation. He represented Luxembourg at the 56th Venice Biennale 2015 with the project Paradiso Lussemburgo. ​

His prize-winning installation Klangkörper (in English, body of resonance) bridges the worlds of music and architecture. The idea is to translate the sound concepts of electronic music through a questioning of architectural concepts. Indeed, according to the artist, the three-dimensional architectural form of the OAI building evokes the graphic two-dimensionality of a 'sound envelope', which is the curve describing the evolution of a sound.

Les quatres étapes de l'enveloppe sonore ADSR
© Filip Markiewicz, all rights reserved

The ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release) sound envelope was defined in 1965 by Vladimir Ussachevsky whilst proposing improvements to Robert Moog's first synthesizers. ​ Nowadays, these four words appear on every analogue synthesizer.

Within the context of this installation, the OAI building would represent a body of architectural resonance which, when placed in context with the words attack, decay, sustain and release, develops a societal questioning. The series of neon lights that form these four words, placed inside and outside the building, can therefore be interpreted in both a political and poetic way.

  • Attack: in music, attack describes the time needed to reach the maximum level, after the note started; the word would echo, in this context, the idea of brutalism in the history of architecture.
  • Decay: in music, the word indicates the drop in time needed to reach the next stable level. Translated to the world of architecture, it would refer to ruins and the deterioration of materials.
  • Sustain: in music, this is the stable phase during which the note is held. In the installation, it would be linked to sustainable architecture, which minimizes the negative impact on the environment.
  • Release: in the musical context, the extinction indicates the amount of time it takes for the level to decrease until it comes back to the initial zero; this release would allude to political and existential ideas that also echo certain forms of architecture.

In order to accompany the project, the artist also plans a videotaped performance of minimal electronic music using analogue synthesizer sounds.

The installation is set at the OAI headquarters / Forum da Vinci since the beginning of July 2021 and is held for an 18-month period. At the end of 2022, the installation of the winner Hisae Ikenaga will take over.

© OAI / Christof Weber, all rights reserved
© Filip Markiewicz, all rights reserved

Hisae Ikenaga's imaginary signage game

Hisae Ikenaga (1977, Mexico City) works with everyday objects. She changes them in order to give them other meanings and uses. In her series, she tackles different issues: she confronts industry versus craftsmanship, she humanizes objects, she uses global objects purchased in multinational chain stores. She poses potential genetic anomalies in mass-produced objects as to create new opinions about everyday-life circumstances.

With her installation Reproduction d'éléments (in English, Reproduction of Elements), the artist plays with the existing elements in the OAI building. While following her intellectual approach of changing everyday objects to propose a new interpretation, the work reproduces in paper, cardboard and papier-mâché, accessories such as panels, handles, switches, handrails to, at first, confuse the visitors. Indeed, when one takes a closer look at these objects, it is clear that they are fake.

The OAI building's signage is an invitation to play for Hisae Ikenaga
© Hisae Ikenaga, all rights reserved
The OAI building's signage is an invitation to play for Hisae Ikenaga
© Hisae Ikenaga, all rights reserved

This is designed to confuse the visitor and encourage him to look for other elements, in order to push him to become aware of objects that surround everyday life and that are often neglected. It is also a way of drawing attention to the many technical and safety constraints which, in practice, limit the expression of architects. Thus, in a playful way, the artist creates a panoply of false standardised objects and imaginary signages taken from an absurd specification document.

Hisae Ikenaga's installation will be set at the OAI headquarters /Forum da Vinci in early 2022.