In this interview with DLW and MAGAZIN, we talk about ants and frogs, two part questions that sound like comments and why it is important to enjoy breakfast (and of humorous memes, political propaganda and reflecting on the precarious gig economy we all have been part of).
KOOZ Dank Lloyd Wright is an activist collective that principally deploys the medium of the meme to engage in a blunt and spontaneous critical discourse challenging architecture beyond an “intellectual hobby horse for ivory-tower academics” and/ or “as a decorator for finance capital." What sparked the use of memes as a tool for architectural critique? To what extent does this unconventional approach transcend the architectural clique and become a common language? Is it shaping a new architecture manifesto?
DLW We wanted to learn from ants to organise and unionise. We also wanted to learn from frogs and their free spirit, and how they hop from one idea to another with ease. We even draw inspiration from how some switch sex under necessary circumstances. Frogs are as Queer as they come. In that way we too wish to be amphibians: operating in the fluid liquidity of the internet and having more or less material(ist) experience in the world. Karl Marx for sure would have made memes today. Call it Dank Marx 3000.
We wanted to learn from ants to organise and unionise. We also wanted to learn from frogs and their free spirit, and how they hop from one idea to another with ease.
KOOZ How does DLW position itself in response to the prevailing editorial landscape, where architecture and design magazines often prioritise commercial success over cultural relevance? How does DLW navigate its recent experience with shadow banning on Instagram and the challenges of maintaining a critical voice in the face of restrictions on free press?
DLW What does commercial success lead to? A submarine at the mercy of video game controllers? A yacht eaten by a gang of anticapitalist Orcas? We definitely position ourselves with the Orcas. Obliterate Rich Capitalist Architecture Systems. We prefer editorial landscapes with rich well-managed old-growth forests, grazed and trampled pastureland, and tropical food forests. These are the landscapes we wish to edit.
Obliterate Rich Capitalist Architecture Systems. We prefer editorial landscapes with rich well-managed old-growth forests.
KOOZ At the Gag Economy exhibition, MAGAZIN and Belvedere galleries have become a conceptual "dollar store”, showcasing random merchandise that exposes the precarious labour conditions in the field of architecture. Is this crisis the ultimate challenge for the discipline? What impact does staging political messaging in these spaces have? How much does the medium itself convey the message?
DLW We love a two-part question that is more like a comment, we’d like to offer our own two-part question that is more like a comment: this crisis is not exclusive to bulding buldings. We really appreciated the opportunity to bring international relevance to the Vienna architecture scene. The medium is the massage. The massage is more effective if you do it while sitting on the Palestinian and Puerto Rican chairs in the Revolutionary Beach we set up at MAGAZIN.
This crisis is not exclusive to bulding buldings.
KOOZ A number of the exhibitions staged at Magazin have directly challenged the white space of the gallery either formally or conceptually. How does each exhibition re-define MAGAZIN as a place in and of itself and for the city of Vienna?
MAGAZIN From the very beginning, MAGAZIN has been conceived as an exhibition space for contemporary architecture, rather than a gallery. This distinction is crucial, because the showcased work is not intended for sale or to be transferred to a new owner or environment. The invitation for an exhibition goes along with the commission for a new site-specific installation. Consequently, the space is mostly not treated as a neutral backdrop for interchangeable objects, but rather as a multi-layered framework that offers a wide range of potential engagements – from the physical characteristics of the space to Vienna's socio-cultural context. With each exhibition, this repertoire of interrelationships expands.
Dank Lloyd Wright presented the exhibition in a setting that intentionally oscillates between a museum-like display, a generic shop architecture, a runway, a leisure beach area and a fashion magazine.
After twenty-four exhibitions, we had to relocate. Our new space at Rembrandtstrasse 14, in the 2nd district, presents a whole new array of possibilities, and the first exhibition there is Dank Lloyd Wright's Gag Economy. Furthermore, their show has been exceptionally expanded to the group exhibition On the New: Viennese Scenes and Beyond at the Belvedere 21 museum. Bringing forward the inherent proliferation of memes, Dank Lloyd Wright has conceived an exhibition in which fashion items like thongs, hats, shirts, jumpers, pants, bikinis and ball gags as well as various goodies like tote bags, postcards and condoms are presented in a setting that intentionally oscillates between a museum-like display, a generic shop architecture, a runway, a leisure beach area and a fashion magazine. All these items not only address urgent issues in the field of architecture, but they also polemically counter the mass of Sisi and Emperor Franz fin de siècle “idyllic world” tourist gifts that again and again suffocate Vienna’s culture.
Enjoy breakfast, End gatekeeping, and Sleep 8-10 hrs.
KOOZ With memes disseminated through Instagram, Gag Economy summons the wastefulness and speed of fast-fashion and displays “wearable memes, slogans, and manifestos that can be worn to become a walking joke and a piece of interactive, human-scale anti-imperialist propaganda.” What conversations do you expect this physical evolution of DLW will raise? Do you see yourselves going a step further, and designing buildable memes to denounce the evils of architecture and of the construction industry?
DLW First of all, Free Palestine from the River to the Sea. Second, Viva Puerto Rico libre y soberano (long live Puerto Rico, free and sovereign). Eat the rich, Nationalise Autodesk, Free public transit, Abolish NCARB, RIBA, AIA, NAAB, Recommon the land, Decommodify housing, Free universal education, Enjoy breakfast, End gatekeeping, and Sleep 8-10 hrs. At DLW we believe in open sourcing, therefore we will be uploading all the designs from the show with instructions and custom online stores where followers can order their own versions of the items displayed at MAGAZIN. We just wanted to have fun and make some nice and funny art for our followers to enjoy—we are not interested in continuing to commodify ourselves beyond our full-time jobs.
Dank Lloyd Wright is an activist collective, cum joke faction, center for ants, frog week enthusiast group, and book club operated anonymously from a half basement somewhere in Vienna. Current interests include getting shadow-banned on instagram, rejected by LOG, blocked by ivy league schools and members of capitalist roundtables. Anyone that follows DLW is DLW. You are DLW, we are all DLW, [unless you are a slumlord, union buster, or on the “shitty men in architecture” list]
MAGAZIN is an exhibition space for contemporary architecture in Vienna. It was founded in March 2018 and is currently run by Jerome Becker and Matthias Moroder. MAGAZIN presents the work of young local and international architects in solo exhibitions that are especially conceived for the spaces in the Rembrandtstraße location – framed by corresponding publications and lectures.