Aug, 1, 2012,
2:51 PM

Mies + Performance (Pics)

Choreographer Jaimie Henthorn sent us photos of the Lafayette Park-specific performance staged last week. 

Henthorn created and directed this one-hour dance by Phaedra Eason and Corissa Leveille at the Detroit-based urban settlement. For thoughtful context for this piece, she sent us the following text.


Above: Paedra Eason and Corissa Leveille perform in Lafayette Park, Detroit, on July 24, 2012

“The way we think about architecture is organized by the way we think about the relationships between inside and outside, private and public.  With modernity there is a shift in these relationships, a displacement of the traditional sense of an inside, an enclosed space, established in clear opposition to an outside." (Colomina, Beatriz, 1996. Privacy and Publicity. MIT Press, Massachusetts, London, pp 12)

The fenestration of the residential spaces at Lafayette Park is truly one of its most fitting examples of the notion described here by the architectural critic and historian Beatriz Colomina.  The performance is informed in equal parts by this idea and also the function of the horizontality of the Modernist window as cinematic framing device.  Though there is the potential for contradiction as the former points to an integration of the architecture’s occupant with the outside and the latter to a role as voyeur of what occurs of the other side of the glass, the seduction of the moving cinematographic image may, in fact, facilitate rather than discourage an occupant’s engagement.  A pair of dancers take repeated passes through the space just outside of a ground-floor townhouse with a viewership watching from the inside through a wall composed entirely of windows.  Calling on the movement vocabulary of contact improvisation, the duo tumble through the frame, as would leaves in the wind or a pair of birds in flight. 

Again, to quote Colomina, “To be “inside” the space is to see.  To be “outside” is the be in the images, to be seen, whether in the press photograph, a magazine, a movie, on television, or at your window…But, of course, the fact that (for the most part) this audience is indeed at home is not without consequence.  The private is, in this sense, now more public than the public.” (Colomina, pp 7-8)


From Jaimie Henthorn, director and choreographer

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Jul, 24, 2012,
10:40 AM

1960s barbeque styles: An overview

The exhibition on Lafayette Park, Mies’ premiere urban renewal project, will close this Friday, July 27. Catch it in Crown Hall on the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Main Campus; it’s open each day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For our final feature on Lafayette Park (Detroit) ephemera, we present another page (above) from their 1963 summer newsletter, which proves the issue to be chock-full of charmingly sexist anecdotes!

Our favorite item on this page is a piece by Kay Savage Kennedy; she outlines various types of men who cook in their backyards:

“Smoke signals are up in Lafayette Park these nights. The men are cooking—and revealing their personalities. Some men are in one group while others, [sic] have cooking styles that fall in or out of other categories.

There’s the PRIMITIVE—he will have none of your modern outdoor grills. If a simple bonfire was good enough for his ancestors, it’s good enough for him, by golly! Of course he may build the fire right next to a prize rose and it does result in an aching back since his cooking stance is like a bent hairpin.

Another type is the OLD PRO—a peerless performer at the pit. His steaks bear little flags “rare,” “medium” and he hates you if you say “well-done.” He’s all over the place at once, tossing salad, turning steaks, mixing drinks. But he seldom ever gets a bite to eat.

The GOURMET CHEF is the proud owner of every cooking gadget and spice known. Cooking is never simple with him. The menu is always complicated, the drinks secret concoctions with outlandish names and the party must have a theme like Polynesian Feat or Hawaii Luau.

Then there’s the GOOD JOE who knows about cooking but considers it his family duty to manage the grill He keeps the kids running errands, setting the table and bringing the food mom has prepared in the kitchen. The hamburgers may be burned but everybody agrees Dad is a great cook!”

This all brings some food for thought, pun intended. Have we evolved out of the precious stereotype delineated above? It’s only been a few short decades…

Today’s historic item is courtesy of Betty Brown and the publication, “Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies,” 2012.

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Jul, 23, 2012,
2:12 PM

Thank you to all the children and their adult helpers who made our annual LEGO day in S. R. Crown Hall AWESOME. Here are a few pictures of builders and their creations. See you again next year!

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Jul, 19, 2012,
9:37 AM

Video: Kevin Harrington’s talk on Lafayette Park

Lafayette Park, the Detroit urban renewal project, was made by a dream team. Mies was the architect, Ludwig Hilberseimer did the urban design, and Alfred Caldwell was the landscape designer.

For more on this collaboration, see this talk by Kevin Harrington, professor emeritus of Illinois Institute of Technology. He presented it Saturday, June 16 in S. R. Crown Hall in conjunction with the Mies Society exhibition, “Lafayette Park: The Settlement Shape.”

This show is up for one more week! See it Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, June 27 in Crown Hall, located at 3360 South State Street in Chicago on the IIT campus.

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