Fundació Mies van der Rohe periodically invites artists and architects to provoke new looks and reflections through their interventions in the Pavilion, enhancing it as a space for inspiration and experimentation for the most innovative artistic and architectural creation. After SANAA, Jeff Wall, Ai Wei Wei, Enric Miralles, Andrés Jaque, Antoni Muntadas, Domènech and Anna & Eugeni Bach, among others, this year The Mies van der Rohe Foundation periodically invites artists and architects to provoke new looks and reflections through their interventions in the Pavilion, enhancing it as a space for inspiration and experimentation for the most innovative artistic and architectural creation. After SANAA, Jeff Wall, Ai Wei Wei, Enric Miralles, Andrés Jaque, Antoni Muntadas, Domènech and Anna & Eugeni Bach, among others, this year American artist Spencer Finch will be in charge of intervening in the Mies van Pavilion der Rohe with the proposal 'Fifteen stones (Ryōan-ji)'.
The project, which can be seen from today until October 21 at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, links the aesthetics of Mies van der Rohe with those of Zen philosophy; Ryōan-ji, "the temple of Dragon’s rest", is located in Kyoto and the intervention of Spencer Finch evokes its famous karesansui (zen garden), considered a masterpiece of Japanese culture. On a white gravel surface of 25x10m, almost the same dimensions as the pond at Mies van der Rohe Pavilion, fifteen stones are arranged in such a way that it is not possible to see all of them at the same time, no matter which is the position of the observer. This abstract composition of stones in the space that encourages meditation, is open to interpretation, in the same way that Fifteen Stones.
The proposal also refers to the links between the Modern Movement, and specifically the work of Mies van der Rohe, and the Japanese precedent. Direct connections have not often been proposed between the way of thinking and working of the German architect and the philosophical and conceptual basis of Japanese culture. This intervention allows us to reflect on the most lyrical aspects of the work of Mies van der Rohe and one of the most outstanding materials of the Pavilion, the stone, in this case in its natural state establishing a dialogue with the travertine cut, polished and hanging that forms the walls, the pavement and the bench from which the composition is observed.
In the words of the artist: “The Ryōan-ji Garden in Kyoto and the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona are two of my favorite places in the world. In spite of their many differences, to me they are incredibly similar, in terms of how they generate thought about being a human seeing and moving through space. Wittgentstein said “Remember the impression one gets from good architecture, that it expresses thought. It makes one want to respond with a gesture” (Culture and Value, University of Chicago Press, 1984) and I find that when I am in either of these places my brain works in overdrive, trying to comprehend the space; at the Pavilion, the relationship between indoors and outdoors and the structure within the site and in Ryōan-ji with the stones in relationship with one another and with a larger metaphorical landscape. Both of these places are deeply human, they are about feeling oneself as a physical, living being in relationship to the world and also about a gargantuan achievement of profound abstract thought, almost like discovering a complex mathematical theorem. By dropping a version of Ryōan-ji into the reflecting pool of the Pavilion, by being able to see these two miracles of humanity next to each other, I am hoping that my brain will explode.”