Daily digest: Christoph Büchel’s migrant boat leaves Venice, the politics of mid-century modernism, and more

The Male Gaze

Daily digest: Christoph Büchel’s migrant boat leaves Venice, the politics of mid-century modernism, and more

Christoph Büchel's Barca Nostra 2018-2019, installed on the Arsenale. The boat was shipwrecked on April 18, 2015, and 700-to-1,100 Syrian refugees likely perished. (Andrea Avezzù/La Biennale di Venezia)

Top of the Tuesday to you, and welcome back to another roundup of news to start your day with:

Christoph Büchel’s Barca Nostra boat finally returns to Sicily

Artist Christoph Büchel had, by turns, the most powerful, popular, and controversial installation at the 2019 Venice Biennale. His Barca Nostra piece, which put the remains of a fishing boat that sunk in the Mediterranean Sea in 2015 and left over 1,000 Libyan migrants dead, was intended to act as a memorial but instead served as a popular selfie background.

Last year, it came to light that Barca Nostra was supposed to have been shipped back to Augusta, Sicily, to become a permanent memorial, but Büchel had been trying to recoup damages from the shipping company who brought the boat to Venice after its cradle arrived damaged. Now, visitors to the upcoming Architecture Biennale in Venice next month will find a clear Arsenale as the boat was finally shipped back to its final resting place on April 20.

H/t to The New York Times

Decoding the racial and gender politics of mid-century modern design

The world of mid-century modern design was, with few exceptions, dominated by white men, and that’s also who they designed for. In advertising, those designs framed beautiful women in dominating positions that both objectified and controlled their bodies. In furniture advertisements run in Ebony, however, Black men and women were instead shown in leisure and exerting control over those same objects. Kristina Wilson breaks down how the ever-popular design movement meant different things to so many different people in the full piece, which also includes plenty of historical advertisements.

H/t to Hyperallergic

After Tesla’s solar roof soars in cost, Elon Musk apologizes

Two weeks ago, angry Tesla customers took to the internet to complain that although Tesla’s solar roofing division was raking in cash, the company was unexpectedly jacking up the prices of solar shingle installation … after customers had already signed a contract. Canceling the new contract, with prices that were sometimes 100 percent higher than before, was difficult as Tesla reportedly failed to answer customer service emails.

Yesterday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk apologized on an earnings call for what he called “significant mistakes” with Tesla’s solar shingles. He attributed the unexpected cost differences to difficulties in installing the photovoltaic shingles on uneven or bumpy roofs, and promise that customers would be able to get full refunds if they were unhappy moving forward. Tesla’s solar roof division still isn’t profitable, but Musk said that they would be expanding installations this year.

H/t to The Verge

Construction workers take more risks when they feel safe

Somewhat paradoxically, a new study in the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management found that as technology has made construction and roofing safer, more workers are dying via fatal falls. That comes down to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, where workers may be less lax in their safety protocols as they expect barriers and other interventions to compensate for their shortcuts.

H/t to Popular Mechanics

Introducing the Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize’s first jury

This morning, The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) announced the first seven-person jury to decide its inaugural Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Prize. First announced in 2019 as an international prize intended to elevate landscape architecture as an art form, this year’s award will be handed out in the fall and come with $100,000 and two years of “public engagement activities.”

The jury, a who’s-who list of architects, planners, and landscape architects includes: Dorothée Imbert (jury chair), Tatiana Bilbao, Michel Desvigne, Gina Ford, Teresa Gali-Izard, Walter Hood, and Aki Omi.

The death and life of the American Dream (mall)

New Jersey’s American Dream megamall, under construction for over 20 years at this point and so frequently thwarted from opening by recessions and now the COVID pandemic, is also a pretty potent metaphor for its namesake. Karrie Jacobs has charted the life of the mall from inception to its latest stalled launch, and how developer Triple Five Group doubled down on novelty after novelty (indoor ski slope, anyone?) until the camel’s back broke.

H/t to Architect Magazine