OMA: Breaking the Fourth Wall

Article by Astoria Jellett

You will sign a contract committing the next six hours of your life to a new reality.

You will walk in slow motion to the gazing chamber. You will stare into the eyes of a stranger. You will brew in the energy of the crystal cave. You will lie on a bed suspended in midair by magnetic forces. You will be taken into the performance hall.

You will not experience art through the invisible wall that has for centuries divided artist and audience.

You will be changed.

That is what Marina Abramovic wants to do to you in the Marina Abramovic Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI) opening in Hudson, New York in 2016. With a four-decade-long career in long-durational, time-based, immaterial art, it’s no wonder Abramovic wants to address one of today’s most crippling problems: a lack of true presence.

Breaking the fourth wall between art and audience, she’s found, is the best way to do that. So she’s hired the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) to set the scene.

OMA designs feature impeccably streakless glass, moving platforms, rooftop swimming pools, straight lines morphing seamlessly into circles, and geometric configurations that have propelled cities across the world into the future.

Tasked with redesigning an 80-year-old classical building for 21st-century art, founder Rem Koolhaas, with Shohei Shigematsu and Jason Long, has designed MAI as a box within a box: a core performance space surrounded by classrooms, meeting rooms, and most importantly, an archive. (Not to mention the gazing, crystal, meditation, science, and spiritual “chambers,” plus a library and a lecture hall.) This is the environment that will reshape the way we experience art – and life.

And no one is more capable of breaking the fourth wall than OMA.

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Words By Astoria Jellett

Images & Renderings By OMA