bio     list    contact


The New Sanctuary

12 February, 2019–January, 2020

Jeu De Paume, Concorde, Paris
CAPC, Bordeaux
Museo Amparo de Puebla, Mexico.

Julie Béna, Ben Thorp Brown and Daisuke Kosugi

Press release in ENG/ FR

Julie Béna, installation view of Nail Tang at Galerie Joseph Tang, Paris, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Joseph Tang © Julie Béna. Photo: Ana Drittanti.

Julie Béna, installation view of Destinyat EMBA / Galerie Édouard Manet, Gennevillier, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Joseph Tang © Julie Béna

Ben Thorp Brown, film still of Gropius Memory Palace, 2018, 4K Video, 5.1 Sound, 20:17. Courtesy of the artist © Ben Thorp Brown

Ben Thorp Brown, film still of Gropius Memory Palace, 2018, 4K Video, 5.1 Sound, 20:17. Courtesy of the artist © Ben Thorp Brown

Daisuke Kosugi, installation view of Sentient to Sentient, 2016, stereoscopic iPhone video, single channel HD, 10:00. Courtesy of the artist © Daisuke Kosugi

Daisuke Kosugi, film still of Meeting Uncle Yuji, 2018, HD video, 40:00. Courtesy of the artist. © Daisuke Kosugi. Photo: Oscar Qvale

Today, architecture is also ready and able to contribute to the reinvention of experience, not personal or sentimental, but affective and political. – Sylvia Lavin

How does space determine the way we feel? Predicated on a sense of a threatening and hostile environment, one of the basic definitions of architecture is the provision of shelter and comfort for the human body. The common idea of dwelling as “surrogate skin” stems from Gottfried Semper who described the animal pen, made of woven skins and leaves, as the origin of architectural “private” space. Today, this understanding of architecture as enveloping spatiality, the modern desire to provide a place of refuge (not being seen), no longer holds. Social, technological, demographic and environmental change has increasingly led to the management of the environment, the standardisation of lifestyles, the displacement of people due to conflict, persecution and gentrification, the surveillance of “private” sites of living, and ultimately the negligence of the body and the senses.

Designing spaces of belonging or fostering safe and hospitable environments remains one of the biggest issues in contemporary architecture as so-called “non-places” – spaces of transience and anonymity often constructed with cheap building materials – not significant enough to be regarded as “places”, are increasingly the architectural typology of the home. While the notion of architecture as a haven or sanctuary space has become a privileged conception, architects, designers and artists have long been interested in the bodily and psychological experience of dwellers. Richard Neutra’s Lovell Health House (1929), Frederick Kiesler’s unrealised Endless House (1947–60), and Arakawa + Gins’ unrealised Reversible Destiny Healing Fun House (2011) modelled on the Sanctuary of Asklepios are all examples of architecture designed to be experienced by the senses in ways that are affective and political. Could these – often failed, dismissed or forgotten – endeavours serve as models for contemporary architectural aspirations? And if we were to reconsider architecture as the meeting point between different cultural references, practices, rituals, desires and needs, how would we imagine a sanctuary space for today’s world?

The New Sanctuary proposes newly commissioned works by artists Julie Béna, Ben Thorp Brown and Daisuke Kosugi, who from the perspective of their individual practices, consider the capacity of the designed environment to host, care, and engage with the body and the senses. A new animation by Julie Béna narrates an architectural tale about standardisation and transparency in which objects travel and morph, resisting commodification. InThe Arcadia Center, a film installation developed in dialogue with researchers working in psychology, neuroscience, and education, Ben Thorp Brown proposes a sanctuary that creates a kind of “restorative” experience, and responds to the politics of our moment. Finally, an experimental narrative film by Kosugi Daisuke follows a Japanese retired building engineer who was diagnosed with a brain disorder. Through an architectural journey the film reveals the character’s internal conflict between the desire for perfect efficiency and the acceptance of his gradually declining body. The series of three exhibitions bring no simples stories of architecture but underline the complexity of ever-changing ideas about how we (are) live(d).