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Ifau + Jesko Fezer, Spaces of Negotiations

Ludlow 38
38 Ludlow Street, between Grand and Hester, 212-228-6848
East Village / Lower East Side
May 24 - June 28, 2008
Reception: Friday, May 23, 7 - 9 PM
Web Site

The Goethe-Institut New York, a branch of the Federal Republic of Germany’s global cultural institution, and Kunstverein München are pleased to announce the opening of Spaces of Negotiation, the next exhibition at Ludlow 38, a new downtown satellite space for contemporary art.

Spaces of Negotiation features the Berlin-based group of architects ifau + Jesko Fezer, and consists of three interrelated parts: architectural projects by ifau + Jesko Fezer; “responding works” and “negotiations” exploring the potential of social architecture with guests from the fields of architecture, architectural criticism, art and sociology. ifau + Jesko Fezer started Negotiations as a series of discussions in Berlin in December 2006. After Vienna, Graz, and Stuttgart, New York will be the last station of the series. All Negotiations will be documented in a forthcoming publication. The projects by ifau + Jesko Fezer will be presented through plans and models in the center of the exhibition spaces, and “responding works” will cover the walls. The loosely connected collection of photographs, illustrations, plans and texts convey the collaborative spirit of the work of ifau + Jesko Fezer and the visionary thinking that characterizes their creative process. As the architects themselves note, “Architecture today is extensively the result of highly controlled propositions. Functions and resulting spatial programs are precisely described and measured, shape and presentation are aimed at individuality and mainly follow principles of marketing strategy. To instead be informed by the everyday and its practices as a starting point for the production of urban space and to investigate a process-based understanding of architecture, could contribute to the re-invention of architecture as a communal space – as a space of negotiation, that explicitly challenges users and those involved in its creation to debate and expand the possibilities.”

The projects by ifau + Jesko Fezer presented at Ludlow 38 are characterized by their function as cultural institutions and by their confrontation with the historical substance of the respective buildings. Both parameters meet with the aim to design an architecture that is open for negotiation: as sites of communication and confrontation, exhibitions reflect, discuss, and stage social positions. Moreover, the design of the entrance of KW – Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin, the conversion of Kunstverein München, as well as Palais Thinnfeld in Graz, Austria, are modifications of buildings with a history of more than a hundred years. These characteristics of under-determination become the starting point of architectural revisions and re-interpretations that foster a productive confrontation with new usages and enable the free appropriation by programs, as necessitated by the everyday practices of art institutions. Planning and designing public cultural institutions in this sense qualifies as an ideal field of experimentation for the development of an architecture open for appropriation.

Established in 1998, ifau – institute for applied urbanism (, is a working group of architects focusing on interrelated, interdisciplinary projects, including architectural and urban design, research, installations and events in the urban context. As a main issue ifau investigates possibilities to transfer urban diversity into architectural space. All projects aim to involve and inscribe contextual processes creating space for negotiation in the design. Flexibility and specificity are characteristics of the generated models. Designed space is formed by negotiation or for negotiation.

Jesko Fezer (1970- ) lives in Berlin. He is co-founder of the thematic bookshop program and is co-editor of An Architektur, a political magazine on architecture which also initiated the Camp for Oppositional Architecture. While teaching at several universities of architecture, he has most recently been visiting professor in the Masters’ Program in Architecture at the Academy of Arts, Nuremberg. As an artist, he has collaborated with Axel Wieder to explore questions of public space, institutions, and urban space and related issues at the Berlin Biennial, the Istanbul Biennial and the European Kunsthalle. The Goethe-Institut New York is a branch of the Federal Republic of Germany’s global cultural institute, established to promote the study of German and German culture abroad, encourage international cultural exchange, and provide information on Germany’s culture, society, and politics. At its uptown Fifth Avenue location, several buzzworthy series debuted this spring, including “What is Green Architecture?” next with Christoph Ingenhoven on May 19.
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