João Nunes’ array of work spans several languages, innumerable scales, over eighteen different countries, and at least five continents; but what consistently transcends even such a formidable scope is Nunes’ intent belief that each project tackled and every competition entered can contribute to a greater body of knowledge at a cultural level. Landscape architects in particular, who instinctually and necessarily intervene in the dimension of time, must take on the responsibility of that continuity of culture. In an era where our lifespans have begun to compete with the lifespans of the projects we create, that opportunity has never been more possible.
Refreshingly, his belief carries through, not only for won competitions, but for lost ones as well. In the precarious condition of competition culture—wherein the political or aesthetic whims of a jury may decide the fate of rigorously wrought design concepts—recognizing the value of the experimental and the failed and the uncertain becomes crucial.
Nunes shies away from the empty flair of pristine renderings, and remains wary of how often such drawings can deny the processes of entropy, decay, accumulation, and time itself. Instead, his perspective is one in which anachronisms and palimpsests are persistent sources of fascination: ripe with potential for both memory and discovery.
Over the course of three visits to Ohio, Nunes took on a flight-stalling snowstorm, a resourceful re-route through Cleveland, a rain-drenched adventure to the Newark Earthworks, and of course, daily searches for espresso. Over countless meals of everything from Indian to Polish to American foods, he shared with students the wisdom of over 25 years of practice. He guided the development of the exhibition and the models that inhabit it—offering tireless critiques, sketching onto Styrofoam lunchboxes and paper tablecloths alike, and sportingly participating in full-scale material mockups.
The members of the 2016 Glimcher Seminar have set out to physically reinterpret both the operational precision of Joao Nunes’ built work, as well as the omnipresent concepts of time, transience, and consciousness that persistently drive his design process. Working with an intense focus on the abstract over the literal, students created a series of models over the course of the semester, each honing in on a limited material palette in order to better display the processes of material manipulation. Each model seeks to distill and encapsulate a specific facet of João Nunes’ built work and design sensibility, but when seen together, rather than in isolation, they speak to the collective cultural understanding that Nunes’ work continues to inspire.
Exhibition on view: April 2, 2016 — September 15, 2016
2016 GLIMCHER SEMINAR
Paula Meijerink, Associate Professor in Landscape Architecture