Exhibition to Examine Radical Changes Transforming the Surface of the World beyond Cities
From February 20 through summer 2020 the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will present Countryside, The Future, an exhibition addressing urgent environmental, political, and socioeconomic issues through the lens of architect and urbanist Rem Koolhaas and AMO, the think tank of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). A unique exhibition for the Guggenheim rotunda, Countryside, The Future will explore radical changes in the vast nonurban areas of Earth with an immersive installation premised on original research. The project extends investigative work already underway by AMO, Koolhaas, and students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design; the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing; Wageningen University, Netherlands; and the University of Nairobi.
“In the past decades, I have noticed that while much of our energies and intelligence have been focused on the urban areas of the world—under the influence of global warming, the market economy, American tech companies, African and European initiatives, Chinese politics, and other forces—the countryside has changed almost beyond recognition,” stated Koolhaas. “The story of this transformation is largely untold, and it is particularly meaningful for AMO to present it in one of the world’s great museums in one of the world’s densest cities.”
Rem Koolhaas (b. 1944, Rotterdam) founded the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in 1975 together with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis and Madelon Vriesendorp. He graduated from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and in 1978 published Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan. His 1995 book S,M,L,XL, summarizes the work of OMA in “a novel about architecture.” In 2001 Koolhaas published with his students two volumes of the Harvard Project on the City, The Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping and Great Leap Forward, and in 2011 Project Japan: Metabolism Talks looked back at the Metabolism movement. His built work includes the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow (2015), Fondazione Prada in Milan (2015), the headquarters for China Central Television (CCTV) in Beijing (2012), Casa da Música in Porto, Portugal (2005), Seattle Central Library (2004), and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Berlin (2003). Koolhaas designed the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in Las Vegas, open from 2001 to 2008, and, in 1978, The Sparkling Metropolis, an exhibition on the top ramp of the rotunda of the Guggenheim in New York. Current projects include the Qatar Foundation headquarters, Qatar National Library, Taipei Performing Arts Center, a new building for Axel Springer in Berlin, and the Factory in Manchester. Koolhaas is a professor at Harvard University and in 2014 was the director of the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, entitled Fundamentals.
For the past four decades, Koolhaas has led the discipline of architecture in a global investigation of the contemporary city as part of the Harvard Project on the City and is known for books such as Delirious New York (1978), S,M,L,XL (1995), and Elements of Architecture (2018) and for architectural projects around the world. Countryside, The Future will mark a shift from a focus on the urban to the rural, remote, deserted, and wild territories collectively investigated here as “countryside,” or the 98% of the earth’s surface not occupied by cities. Through this exhibition, Koolhaas offers a selection of global case studies showing the countryside as a frontline of transformation.
The exhibition will explore artificial intelligence and automation, the effects of genetic experimentation, political radicalization, global warming, mass and micro migration, large-scale territorial management, human-animal ecosystems, subsidies and tax incentives, the impact of the digital on the physical world, and other developments that are altering landscapes across the globe.
Countryside, The Future will offer speculation on the future through evidence of transition from a diverse range of sites. It documents examples from around the world as case studies, exposing the dramatic transformations that have taken place in the countryside, while our attention has been collectively focused on the city. Along the spiraling ramp of the Guggenheim Museum’s rotunda, visitors will encounter thematic groupings of images, sounds, objects, and texts that interweave references from across time and space. The multisensory installation will comprise a succession of new imagery, films, archival materials, and custom-designed wallpaper as an ordered landscape against which digitally driven disruptions will intervene.
Countryside, The Future is organized by Troy Conrad Therrien, Curator of Architecture and Digital Initiatives, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, in collaboration with Rem Koolhaas and Samir Bantal, Director of AMO, with Ashley Mendelsohn, Assistant Curator, Architecture and Digital Initiatives, at the Guggenheim. Key collaborators include Niklas Maak, Stephan Petermann, Irma Boom, Janna Bystrykh, Clemens Driessen, Lenora Ditzler, Kayoko Ota, Linda Nkatha, Etta Mideva Madete, and Ingo Niermann.
A richly illustrated “report” will be developed in tandem with the exhibition. The book will present the exhibition content alongside reports from the journeys taken by the contributors while developing the project, with texts by Rem Koolhaas, Samir Bantal, Niklas Maak, Troy Conrad Therrien, Lenora Ditzler, Kayoko Ota, Alexandra Kharitonova, Anne Schneider, Ingo Niermann, Linda Nkatha, Etta Mideva Madete, Clemens Driessen, Stephan Petermann, Janna Bystrykh, and Jiang Jun. Irma Boom, an Amsterdam-based graphic designer and longtime collaborator of Koolhaas/AMO, the report will be co-published with Taschen.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a set of public programs to be announced closer to the exhibition and posted at guggenheim.org/calendar.
Cofounded by Rem Koolhaas in 1999, AMO is the think tank of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). AMO applies architectural thinking to domains beyond building, often working in parallel with OMA’s clients to fertilize architecture with intelligence from this array of disciplines. AMO has worked with Prada, the European Union, Universal Studios, Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, Condé Nast, Harvard University, and the Hermitage. It has produced exhibitions, including Expansion and Neglect (2005) and When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013 (2013) at the Venice Biennale; The Gulf (2006), Cronocaos (2010), Public Works (2012), and Elements of Architecture (2014) at the Venice Architecture Biennale; and Serial Classics and Portable Classics (both 2015) at Fondazione Prada, Milan and Venice, respectively. AMO published The Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping (2001) and Great Leap Forward (2001) with the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and Content (2004), Al Manakh (2007), Al Manakh: Gulf Continued (2007), and Project Japan: Metabolism Talks (2011). Notable current projects include a plan for a Europe-wide renewable energy grid and the educational program of Strelka Institute in Moscow.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation was established in 1937 and is dedicated to promoting the understanding and appreciation of modern and contemporary art through exhibitions, education programs, research initiatives, and publications. The international constellation of museums includes the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice; the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao; and the future Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. In 2019 the Frank Lloyd Wright–designed Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum celebrates 60 years as an architectural icon and “temple of spirit” where radical art and architecture meet. To learn more about the museum and the Guggenheim’s activities around the world, visit guggenheim.org.
Admission: Adults $25, students/seniors (65+) $18, members and children under 12 free. Open daily from 10 am to 5:30 pm; Tuesdays and Saturdays until 8 pm. Admission is pay-what-you-wish on Saturdays from 5 to 8 pm.