"Unpacking the Cube" in New York

By: Roedah Mansour

Just over a month ago, Steven Holl Architects (est. 1976), Levenbetts (est. 1997) and Leong Leong (est. 2009) created cube-themed sculptures and works of arts for a new exhibition, Unpacking the Cube, in Manhattan's Chamber gallery, which just closed this past week. It is the first capsule show coinciding with the gallery's annual collection about humankind and nature.  The pieces  designed by the architects (each of which was for sale) are put on display in the L shaped gallery planned by the MOS Architects. 

Holl's input included three concrete, walnut and aluminium sculptures that started out as cubes, but were cut into to create what Holl calls "philosophical departure points".

Levenbetts (husband-and-wife team David Leven and Stella Betts) contributed an installation they called Not to Scale, consisting of units that are wedge shaped and hollow. These units can each be assembled in multiple ways to form a cube and can each be used in different ways as well, from providing seating to becoming a landscape element, and so on. 

Leong Leong's sculptures (A Toolkit for a Newer Age) were formed with beautifully hazy pink Himalayan salt, cubic with corners carved, holes, and jutting golden objects, the abstractness of each piece leaving any spectator wondering what inspired Leong Leong to create the pieces. Each salt box has its own purpose -- one serves as a volume amplifier, another as a mortar and pestle. 

Unpacking the cube was curated by Andrew Zuckerman (the same filmmaker and photographer who curated the annual collection). He chose to incorporate the artwork from architects because he wanted to show how architecture is a form of art that envelops the relationship between humans and nature. Thus, he asked Steven Holl, Levenbetts and Leong Leong to convey their visionary roots for art display.