San Diego Mesa College Art Gallery presents Subterranean, an exhibition containing artwork that plumbs the depths—of our society, our Earth, ourselves. This show peels back the surface to reveal worlds real or imagined, cavernous or labyrinthine, with the intent of illuminating the unacknowledged and the transgressive. Curated by the Mesa College Museum Studies class under the direction of Professor Alessandra Moctezuma, Subterranean features 45 artists who have produced more than 60 pieces of art including textile, sculpture, mixed media, and clay.
With 45 artists, the exhibition offers fascinating responses to the subject matter. Artwork in traditional media but also verging into the experimental with video installations, architectural proposals, wearable sculptural jewelry, and even a piece made using lint. The result is a journey into the unexpected, a clash of the real and the imaginary.
Post-War Dutch Structuralism and French Structuralist Philosophy
Spring 2015 / Juliana Maxim
This thesis research began as a case study of Centraal Beheer, a building in the Netherlands designed by Herman Hertzberger. From this formal and critical analysis of the building, as well as the greater architectural paradigm of ‘Dutch Structuralism’, I began to question the origins of this architectural movement. This essay analyzes the origins of structuralist thought by Ferdinand de Saussure in the fields of linguistics and semiotics, as well as the work in anthropology done by Claude Lévi-Strauss in the 20th century. My thesis bridges these seemingly separate fields through structuralism and poses the theories by Saussure and Lévi-Strauss as having a pivotal role in influencing the Dutch Structuralist Movement. Thus, this essay draws from separate subjects of differing time periods and countries in order to present structuralism as homologous. Titled “Post-War Dutch Structuralism and French Structuralist Philosophy,” this essay juxtaposes structuralist architecture, art history, anthropology, semiotics, linguistics, and literature.
The Sublime Aesthetic, American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny: Tied by a Hegemonic Masculinity
Fall 2017 / Cristobal Amunategui
This essay explores the sublime aesthetic in American landscape painting and the American ideologies of expansionism and manifest destiny. Hegemonic masculinity is used as a framework to address similarities, like those in terminology. The essay does not address the inequalities put forth by the sublime aesthetic, expansionism, and manifest destiny, nor does this essay degrade from these nineteenth century movements and ideals. The sexism and patriarchy associated with a hegemonic masculinity is not addressed. Instead, these topics are put forth to demonstrate a zeitgeist that favored masculinity socially, culturally, and politically; the ontological and moral framework of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries favored men, and this essay addresses this gendered history to demonstrate the European sublime aesthetic influence over American ideology.
UCLA AUD 401 / Neil Denari Fall 2017
This studio course investigated museology and graphic design with architect and professor Neil Denari. The studio compiled research and created original diagrams and graphics for a project titled, Art in the Age of Access, wherein the studio worked with renowned Richard Koshalek and architectural historian and writer Dana Hutt. This work will be published in 2019.
Cultural Heritage Iconoclasm: Third Reich Records of Looting
Winter 2018 / Can Bilsel
This research aims to problematize the general sentiment that classifies the Nazi appropriation of European artwork as looting, pillaging, and plundering. The role of iconography and propaganda in Nazi is well known, but lesser known is the looting throughout Europe and the Nazi’s dedication to provenance. Void of morality, this essay addresses the ERR specifically, an organization that took meticulous documentary notes of the objects plundered, including the provenance of the art pieces. This type of cataloging by the ERR demonstrates a kind of archival record for the most elaborate of all the Nazi confiscating agencies during the Second World War. This is not to say that all appropriated artworks have been returned to their rightful owner because of this written record, nor that art and objects were not destroyed in massive object burnings within Germany – but rather to demonstrate the peculiar case of the ERR as a different kind of iconoclasm with the understand of object value, not monetarily but rather in provenance.
USD ARCH 495 / Can Bilsel Fall 2014
Centraal Beheer was completed in 1972 designed by Herman Hertzberger for an insurance company. The style is Dutch Structuralism; as such, he developed a neutral frame-work meant to be completely interpreted and interchanged by the building’s inhabitants. Thus, the building might be considered to be a kit of parts, or even an unfinished product, until workers personalize their specific areas.
Herman Hertzberger’s design claimed a polemic for radical democracy. He homogenized the work environment, creating an entirely non-hierarchical space. In this way, Hertzberger’s design addressed the issue of the corporate office block by creating an entirely utopic and equitable system.
UCLA AUD 413 / Julia Koerner
The Pompeian Villa is a heterotopia of ancient Roman life in Pompeii. Working with colleague Willem Swart, we discovered the highly ordered microcosm of Pompeii, within which the villa conforms to the town’s urban organization: At both scales, spaces of varying program and privacy surround a centrally located and larger open area. Commerce, worship, and governance occur around the Pompeian forum, a place of complexity and happenstance. Yet in the villa, rooms cluster around two atriums that are visible from an office in between. This architectural framework promotes panoptic domesticity.
From his office, the villa’s patron micromanages spaces and relationships normally incompatible with each other: those between merchant and customer, benefactor and recipient, employer and employee, master and servant, host and guests, head and household.
The architecture of the villa realizes these relationships in real space as a counter-site to the Forum, a description and inversion of Pompeian urbanism.
UCLA AUD 411 / Erin Besler Fall 2015
This analysis focuses on the idea of sidedness in architecture. Specifically we are looking at how certain opposing architectural conditions - front/back, interior/exterior, and major/minor - set up a discussion about access, enclosure, and orientation in gothic architecture. Working with colleague, Eric Wall, our interest is in the implication that architecture is sided, and how the relationships formed between these dichotomies open up a conversation about the way that spaces and surfaces are defined. At Laon cathedral, the close examination of Laon presents problems surrounding how sides operate in architecture. We’re interested in how there is a certain politic involved in the definition of architectural surfaces and how they are categorized in terms of sides.
When this starts to break down, shift or invert we are forced to question the privileges we give one thing over another. For example - that fronts are any more important than backs or that certain things must remain on the inside face of the interior rather than the outside face of the exterior. emphasized axial orientation in plan is clearly sided, but there is still some ambiguity between what we might call a front and a back. Typically, cathedrals have a nave at the entrance and a choir and apse at the rear. But at Laon, this distinction falls away - there is no apse and each side of the transept appears be a mirrored image of the other.
This close examination of Laon presents problems surrounding how sides operate in architecture. We’re interested in how there is a certain politic involved in the definition of architectural surfaces and how they are categorized in terms of sides. When this starts to break down, shift or invert we are forced to question the privileges we give one thing over another. For example - that fronts are any more important than backs or that certain things must remain on the inside face of the interior rather than the outside face of the exterior.