Surprise! Exclaims the Swiss street journal branding one of the paper-wrapped columns that characterize the conflictingly sterile white-neon-pink exhibition design of “Who’s Next?”. Indeed, yielding one possible response to the provocative question posed by the title, surprise echoes ambiguously throughout the show. On one side, the gallery walls filled by statistics and case studies of global homelessness in cities ranging from New York to Shanghai to Mumbai to São Paulo to Berlin, unquestionably elicit astonishment. On the other, the deplorable lack of attention paid to the destitute part of society is no surprise.
Thickening throughout the anonymous datasets and personal misfortunes documented in moving image, the austere atmosphere exuded by visitors realizing their institutionalized ignorance, reflecting their inherently brimming fear projected onto polychromous faces, young and old, suffocates anyone lingering too long. Hamburg’s MK&G plays second host to this important exhibition; originally conceived in 2021 by Chilean curator Daniel Talesnik for the Architectural Museum of the Technical University of Munich (TUM). There, its curatorial implementation, especially Fanny Allie’s “Glowing Homeless” light sculpture, carrying the controversy into Munich’s public urban space, resonated more impactful than safeguarding the MK&G’s whitewashed laboratory interior.
Complementing the analyses carried out by researchers from TUM, Columbia University, or the Architectural Association London, the exhibition features numerous architectural models by architectural firms whose projects (realized or in construction) endeavor to counter hostile architectures of the urban by designing for a growing existentialist dilemma in planetary society. Maybe less surprising, “Who’s Next?”—as many seminar-to-exhibition formats—lacks complex interactive components or engaging curatorial devices that exceed a repository of objects, videos, texts. Its mission, regardless, cannot be faulted.
Who’s Next? Homelessness, Architecture and Cities
Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg
curated by Daniel Talesnik