Sydney Architecture Festival 2012

By Lisa Anderson

I Love Todd Sampson – Architecture Exhibition

Tonight I went along to the launch of the architects, artists, performer collaboration based on a theatre work created by Michelle St Anne and the central character performed by Gabrielle Quin while the artistic intention was developed by Michaela Gleave.

The production invites us into the world or mind of the protagonist Laura, a much-abused now middle-aged woman with an obsession with Todd Sampson.  The story is a lonely tale of mistreatment, hiding techniques, searching for love and violence that even your friends cannot help you with.

The group of architects brought together as Livingroom Theatre are continuing a theatrical tradition of artists and architects working with the set design for theatre from Cocteau to Sidney Nolan and Utzon artists and architects have created spaces for theatre.  This contemporary engagement with the architecture of the lonely and the vulnerable allows the architects to create works within a brief that engages every sense and more.

The models, video works, posters and design works give one a unique insight into their understandings of a space through both text of the production and the material forms they can create.

As we leaned across the long tables displaying working models someone near me asked ‘do you think they will sell these when the show is over?’  All I could reply is ‘I hope so’. Some of the models are unique pieces of design, half whimsical artwork and half deeply wonderful design.  There are also some video works including interviews, time-based documentary of place and animations used to bring another element into our understandings of theatrical space within an architectural context.

The models explore elements of structure demonstrating both skill and a reach into the philosophies underlying the structures of architecture.  The narratives within the architecture take us along into a dark world of dreams and madness.  The Balloon forms held hostage with cable ties, the loose stocking toes clamped from the tight bolted forms, the dangling steps of the dream walkway where the walls and floor will literally come up to meet you.  Tis an architecture of madness splayed across the tables, and the careful posters of repeated furniture designs play out the same rhythmic schema of madness.

This does represent one of those amazing moments in architecture and collaboration.  This brilliant collection is well worth the visit to Sydney University.  The project, which has been developed over 2 years of curatorial and artistic engagement led by Michelle St Anne with a team of architects including NKW; Sam Crawford Architects; Genevieve Lilley Architects, FlatPac, WLTS and Ensemble.

The final piece of this puzzle we have been invited into will be the installation and performance over two levels of Pier 2/3 at the Wharf.

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