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David Adjaye at the Design Museum London

David Adjaye at the Design Museum London

Earlier this month, I was invited to the press preview of the new exhibition David Adjaye: Making Memory at the Design Museum in West London.

The exhibition explores the role of monuments and memorials in the 21st century, through seven projects by celebrated British-Ghanaian architect, Sir David Adjaye OBE, who examines the idea of the monument and presents his thinking on how architecture and form are used as storytelling.

It features projects such as the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C, the new national Cathedral of Ghana in Accra and the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London.

The exhibition opens with a visual survey of monuments and memorials starting with the Acropolis of Athens (447 BC) and continues through many places, cultures and ideas until the 2018 Millicent Fawcett statue by Gillian Wearing in London, UK.

Highlights include a full-scale section of the Sclera Pavilion for London Design Festival 2008, a replica library area from the Gwangju River Reading Room in South Korea, as well as inspiration materials including a sculpture by early 20th-century Yoruba artist Olowe of Ise.

The exhibition shows that contemporary monuments are no longer static objects in a field - plaques, statues or neo-classical sculptures - but are dynamic and complex spaces that serve a wider purpose.

Each of the seven projects, selected by Sir David Adjaye, is presented in a dedicated room alongside specially commissioned video interviews and immersive site-specific displays.

Sir David Adjaye states: “Making Memory is set up as a provocation or a question to the public. I am not scared of a narrative that unfolds and splinters. I find that is much more representational of the collective consciousness that we all live in today. I really hope the exhibition is a vehicle for dialogue and discussion about what constitutes a monument and a memorial at the beginning of the 21st century.”

Over the past few decades, Sir David Adjaye has emerged as one of the leading architects of his generation. Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, Adjaye’s influences range from contemporary art and music to science and African art forms. After moving to the UK, Adjaye studied architecture at the London South Bank University and the Royal College of Art before setting up his first office in 1994, later reformed as Adjaye Associates in 2000. The firm now has offices in London, New York and Accra and is working on projects across the globe.

 

The exhibition runs until 5 May 2019 at the Design Museum in London.

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