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This month, ikono invites you to join us in observing the natural environment through the fascinating viewpoint of Dutch artist Misha de Ridder.

Sometimes natural phenomena can become so estranged and mysterious, that we are inclined to describe them as unreal realities. It might be the extraordinary shape of a tree, a mountain, a shadow, a cloud or the mirroring reflection of nature in a lake, but it is foremost the unfamiliarity of the natural aesthetics of reality. Misha de Ridder’s works can be seen as attempts to capture these temporary phenomena and atmospheres of nature within the medium of photography and film. By seeking for the absence of human intervention, by waiting for the climax of the temporal aesthetic and by pushing the camera to its technical limits De Ridder’s works become both exotic reports as autonomous artificial worlds.

Misha de Ridder (1971, Alkmaar, The Netherlands) lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. De Ridder exhibited amongst others at Galerie Juliètte Jongma, Layr Wuestenhagen Contemporary, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Foam photography museum Amsterdam and The Museum of the City of New York.

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ikono invites Ars Electronica, an interdisciplinary hub and one of the world’s leading media art festivals based in Linz, Austria, to present two of their wonderful projects: the ZeitRaum installation, designed by the Ars Electronica Futurelab for the Vienna International Airport in 2012, and a film on Franz Gesellmann’s famous Weltmaschine:

ZeitRaum
The Ars Electronica Futurelab inaugurated a new virtual space inside the new terminal of Vienna’s airport to be passed by more than five billion strangers a year – five billion people on a journey through an imaginary interzone between security checkpoint and takeoff.

ZeitRaum embeds art in a public space where people are more open to artistic ideas while waiting for their flight. Caught up between time zones and connecting flights the visitors encounter the ZeitRaum space for the first time at Check In 3 area, where a large screen reacts to the motions of each new guest arriving by releasing letters of scientific or poetic texts. Arriving and departing planes create data mountains of information before dissolving into thin digital air again.

After leaving Check In 3, everyone will encounter further artworks connected to time and space: Yugo Nakamura’s Industrious Clock uses handdrawn digits for the digital clock, while the Last Clock by Jussi Ängeslevä and Ross Cooper display live footage from the airport in three rings updated by the hour, minute or the second. AIRPORT SOUNDSCAPES #1 by Rupert Huber is a datasonification project turning data from the tower into audioscapes surrounding the visitors with the sound of traffic.

 

The Weltmaschine of Franz Gsellmann
The Weltmaschine (World Machine) is a kinetic installations built by austrian farmer Franz Gsellmann (1910-1981). Without any special knowledge or an artistic background and inspired by a religious vision, Gsellmann started working on the machine after seeing the Atomium at the World’s Fair 1958 in Bruxelles and finished it right before his death in 1981.

Built by discarded everyday objects and material, the Weltmaschine looks like an elaborate Hollywood prop from the lab of a mad scientist or the steam engine of Captain Nemo’s Nautilus. It’s four meters long, two meters wide and four meters high. It has around 2000 pieces, including a toy rocket Gsellmann had imported from Japan. Long forgotten the Weltmaschine was rediscovered and filmed in action by Ars Electronica in 2011, while the real one is still on view in a private museum in Edelsbach near Feldbach, Austria.

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ikono is very proud to present you one gem among the rich cultural treasures of the eternal city Rome: the Trajan’s Markets, which today are hosting the Museum of the Imperial Fora.

 

Trajan’s Markets, located near the Imperial Fora, are a complex of buildings and ruins going back to the early II century AD. The Imperial Fora were erected in the heart of the ancient city over a period of 150 years spanning Caesar’s rule to Trajan (the Forum of Caesar, 46 BC; the Forum of Augustus, 2 BC; the Temple of Peace, 75 AD; the Forum of Nerva, 98 AD; and the Forum of Trajan, 112 AD). The Trajan’s Market preserves many traces of its past lives as a medieval fortress, with the still standing Torre delle Milizie, a seventeenth-century convent and a barrack, which was discovered in the 1930s during the Mussolini era.

Trajan’s Markets were not a trade centre, as its modern name seems to indicate. In fact, the various rooms were used for activities supporting the administrative and judicial work that took place in the Imperial Fora, and were believed to have been used as offices and archives.

The site is a masterpiece of Roman engineering: Entirely built in bricks and divided by public roads, the structure is perfectly adapted to the natural environment. It rises six levels from the Forum, all levels are connected by steep stairs. The ceilings are diverse in form and culminate in the Great Hall, made up of six cross vaults. The windows in the facade of the Grand Hemicycle are framed with uniquely shaped architectural bricks.

Today, the upper part of the monument houses the Museum of the Imperial Forums, which exhibits the architecture and sculptural decoration of the site. The Imperial Fora were an extraordinary set of monumental squares, porticoes and temples. The Forum’s marble architecture is today partly reconstructed thanks to the discovery of original fragments, with casts and modular additions in stone.

Accessing the museum, the visitor enters the central space of the Great Hall, and is welcomed by a reconstruction of the attic of the porticoes of the Forum of Augustus. The space is decorated with caryatids (female sculpted figures functioning as an architectural support) and clipei (shields) carrying the image of bearded deities. The rooms looking into the central space on the ground floor of the museum accommodate the museum’s duty rooms (hosting ticket office, library and cloakroom) and the section introducing the Imperial Fora, which presents each of the Fora’s five main parts by a significant piece. These include the head of Constantine, the imperial statue in military armor from Trajan’s Forum, the frieze with Cupids originating from the Forum of Caesar, and the fragment of a gilt bronze foot from a statue depicting Victory from the Forum of Augustus. The last two rooms of the lower floor are devoted to the vestiges of the Forum of Nerva, hosting a bas-relief depicting a Province, as well as the Temple of Peace, which presents a huge porphyry basin and a small bronze portrait of Chrysippus.

The upper floor of the Great Hall hosts the section of the Forum of Caesar, where visitors can admire panels with Cupids and vine branches deriving from the rich decoration of the temple of Venus Genetrix, which has been reconstructed within the Trajan period.

On the opposite side, a section is dedicated to the Memory of Antiquity. Here, the plastic model of the Forum and vestiges of the Temple of Mars Ultor from the Forum of Augustus, including the stunning capital with Pegasi (winged horses), can be found. Copies of architectural and scholarly drawings from the Italian Renaissance accompany them.

Continuing on to the Central Block, fragments of the colossal statue of Augustus guide the visitor through the section of the Forum of Augustus. Here, one of the niches has been reconstructed with sculptures of Summi Viri (renowned men).

The museum is not yet complete with the section of the Forum of Trajan due to be re-opened, and set up upon completion of its restoration. Similarly, the North and the South Room at the ends of the Great Hemicycle will be directly connected to the ancient remains of the complex.

 

Text by Museum of the Imperial Fora inside the Trajan’s Markets. For more information please visit the museum’s rich website.

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The Safavids  (1502 – 1736)

Named after Sheikh Safi-ad-din Is’haq Ardabili (1252 – 1334), a leader of a sufi order from Ardabil, the Iranian region reached a new cultural period of splendor, under the rule of the Safavid dynasty. After disastrous wars against the Ottomans, the Safavids withdrew to the Iranian core land, and began to create a national self-image. This was crucial when the Shiite religion became a national state religion. It gave the Iranian region a national-religious identity, which continues to this day.

After that, an intensive construction activity started: Shāh ‘Abbās the Great (reign 1587 – 1629) built the systematical planned capitol Isfahan, with strong symmetrical axes and public spaces and palace buildings in pavilion style (Kiosk). The ceramics were decorated under the influence of east asian motifs. After the Mongolian and Timurid era, miniature painting experienced a new period of  splendor. In Tabriz, in Herat and in Isfahan impressing and magnificent book paintings were produced, and grandmasters like  Behzād, Mahmud Muzahhib, Sultan Mohammed and Reza-e Abbasi shaped this era.

ikono presents a selection of this miniature examples of the Safavid Era to introduce these master pieces of Islamic artworks in Iran that, still today, have not lost its fascination and splendor.

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ikono is proud to present the work of Joanna Hill, an artist who works with food, objects, acts and gesture, often taking still life painting as a starting point.

“I primarily work in moving image, but often, what I convey, the real experience, is the one of stillness,” says artist Joanna Hill about her video work made for Old Masters reinterpreted at Rollo Contemporary Art, London. “In my video works, it is my intention to slow down time or to even stop it, to remain immersed in each image in a kind of ‘intensive seeing’ and create a space for projection or memories”. The artist works with the exterior – food, objects, small gestures – to create a connection with the interior – feeling, emotion and our experience of the world.

Characterized by familiar recognizable objects, still life paintings subtly yet insistently turn upside down expected ways of looking at the world in which we inhabit. Shadows and reflections often have as much substance as objects themselves. Backgrounds can be as significant as nominal subjects. Items of little intrinsic value become objects of great poise. They make us question commonly held distinctions about distance and proximity, the trivial and the grand. Through working in the medium of moving image, she aims to make some transformation and create a contemporary reading of the issues at play.

More about Jan van Kessel the Elder and Joanna Hill on our blog.