11 February – 9 March 2002
The Guggenheim name has always been linked to New York's Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the masterpiece of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. However in the last decade, under Thomas Krens' directorship, the Guggenheim has become a franchise, setting up branches all over America and the world. A crucial dimension of the brand is architecture. Krens commissions extreme new buildings and audacious refits from the world's most audacious architects. Arata Isozaki designed the Guggenheim Museum Soho, Richard Gluckman the Deutsche Guggenheim Museum Berlin, and Rem Koolhaus the Las Vegas Guggenheim. The most notorious new branch is Frank Gehry's snakey, titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, which instantly became Spain's premier tourist destination. If the brand can work for Bilbao, a Basque backwater, perhaps it could do the same for Tauranga. That's the thought of Mladen Bizumic, who imagines his own Tauranga Guggenheim Museum, a cool transparent structure, a 'generic supermodernist' design, 'a museum for the age of transparency'. His show mimics the manner of architecture shows, containing a collection of blueprint drawings; a video projection of the museum's interior, animated by Davor Popadich and Elvon Young; a 1:1 reconstruction of the Museum's impressive second-storey view; and a model of Tauranga Guggenheim Museum, with a sixteen-minute soundtrack. Ambient Kenny G Can You Feel the Love Tonight is something of a key to the project. Slowing down a Kenny G number, Bizumic stretches it into something more like Brian Eno's Music for Airports. The irony of the world's most commercial musician being made to sound avant-garde poses a question about the current conflation of populist and avant-garde values in the marketing of modern and contemporary art, both at home and abroad.