Plamen Dejanoff, Model of the Bronze House, 2010, Courtesy Galerie Meyer Kainer, Vienna / Galerie Nicola von Senger, Zurich, Photo Nathan Murrell/MAK.
Plamen Dejanoff, The Bronze House, (144 Facade Elements), 2006-2011, Foto / photo: Fred Dott / Kunstverein Hamburg, 2011.
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The Bronze House
Venue: HafenCity Hamburg
June 18, 2011-January 1, 2012
Bulgarian artist Plamen Dejanoff (* 1970 in Sofia, lives in Vienna) realises the sculpture The Bronze House in public space. The outside façade of the architectural design is composed of caste bronze modules measuring 95 x 65 x 10 cm. In Hamburg the artist is showing some 150 elements that compose an open pavilion with an area of 40 qm and appr. 4 m height.
Dejanoff has been planning and developing The Bronze House for the Bulgarian city Veliko Tarnovo for many years. In the city centre, Dejanoff has acquired a number of building sites on which he is erecting house sculptures of bronze. They are being arduously constructed by hand in separate elements, so that since 2006 progress on the first of five planned building sculptures, which in total cover 600 square metres, has been advancing in various stages of production and in cooperation with various exhibition venues. This Bronze House is composed of some 4,000 elements. Each is made of bronze: doors, façade elements, floor and wall elements, as well as stairs and the junction pieces that hold the entire structure together. Each element of the Bronze House is hence a bronze sculpture in its own right, contributing with a multitude of other parts to form a house sculpture. The sculptor orients his conception on Brancusi's Endless Column, which was erected in modular construction and which has long fascinated Dejanoff. Each of the five walk-in sculptures will have a different function. Ultimately, Dejanoff envisions an artists' colony like the Chinati Foundation initiated by Donald Judd in Marfa. Judd established his settlement on the periphery of the art world in west Texas, where it has come to play a major role in the region.
In Veliko Tarnovo Dejanoff has similarly chosen a city that, although of great regional and historical importance as a World Heritage Site, has little to offer in the way of contemporary art and culture. Since Le Corbusier worked there for a number of months in the early 20th century and made drawings of the town, little has changed. Dejanoff wants to set up his colony here of bronze houses/sculptures, which are intended to play an important role for the community in various functions and uses, e.g., as artists' studios or exhibition venues, open-air cinema and library.
With the five planned Bronze Houses, Dejanoff is creating a special domain in Veliko Tarnovo for societal, artistic, and cultural activities, which, given the lack of infrastructure in the past, are likely to be unaccustomed. The creation of the bronze sculptures is not the only challenge: another will be the possibility and invitation to make accessible and usable platforms of them.
Dejanoff is now launching a first field experiment with the Kunstverein in the context of the initiative Art and Culture in the HafenCity. The Bronze House makes a stopover prior to and in parallel with his exhibition in Kunstverein Hamburg (October 1, 2011-January 1, 2012). Considering the invitations extended to three Hamburg institutions — Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Kampnagel and Kunstverein Hamburg — to realise art projects as satellites in HafenCity Hamburg that address the intermediate zone of critical-artistic activity and city marketing, as well as the confrontation between architecture and urban planning, which has to be faced in the HafenCity, there is clearly much common ground between Dejanoff's work and the •Art and Culture in the HafenCity• initiative.
The Bronze House — erected on the site between Hamburg Cruise Center and the Unilever Building — will hence be a new, temporary building. The walk-in sculpture will be both a satellite of the future house in Veliko Tarnovo and a satellite of the Kunstverein. The (still) empty envelope points to the function of architecture, but also to a relationship between inside and outside, to space and its use. However, it not only refers to Dejanoff's project in Bulgaria but also provides a frame for the Kunstverein for targeted, smaller projects and events, and serves as a platform for cultural activities.
On a sort of marketing tour, The Bronze House is a highly impressive sight that leaves open certain questions, for example about ideological spaces, who will occupy them, for what purpose, and to whose benefit. An answer can presumably be given only when complete project has been realised and come into its own in Veliko Tarnovo.