For his first solo exhibition outside of North America, Chicago-based Canadian architect Jimenez Lai’s Bureau Spectacular will transform the AF’s Project Space with an inhabitable installation and a graphic sequence of imaginary worlds, through the studio’s trademark mixture of built structure and cartoon.
Combining a wall painting, a specially commissioned graphic novel, and a three-part modular ‘home,’ the installation will present slices of life from inside Lai’s Cartoonish Metropolis. The three reconfigurable ‘rooms’ will explore the contemporary performance of living in public, by suggesting themselves as real-world frames from a comic strip. The rooms can face the street as a stage, or cluster together as a home, and will play out the relationship between spectacle and spectator in architecture and performance art, merging Hugh Hefner’s exhibitionism with Joseph Beuys’s conception of art as life, to explore the plural fantasies and realities that architecture can provoke and frame.
The installation can be thought of as an abstract hotel, with Lai himself calling it home over the London Festival of Architecture period, during which he will produce a mural over the walls of the Project Space to introduce further characters from the Cartoonish Metropolis to the gallery. Later in the exhibition a series of invited guests will take up residence in exchange for hosting a range of public events – from film-screenings to dinners, lectures to discos, workshops to art works. Keep an eye on the website for further details
Bureau Spectacular, who describe their strategy as one of making 'absurd stories about fake realities that invite enticing possibilities,' is an operation of architectural affairs founded and led by Jimenez Lai since 2008.