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Mr. Predock, as an architect living in Albuquerque, New Mexico, what does the desert mean to you?

There’s a latent power, a mystery about the desert that has always intrigued me. My desert exposure started when I was a kid and I guess it really stuck with me — it’s a hypnotic kind of place and my beginnings in architecture are obviously here. My earliest memory of architecture would be coming to New Mexico in the 50’s and seeing the power of the big, blank adobe wall — especially the church in Las Trampas, New Mexico. The big, mute wall really compelled me. There’s an aura in the desert that is inescapable.

An aura? What do you mean?

I don’t think you can think about aura — aura is like some essence that’s ineffable, intangible and indescribable. It’s like what you get to Ryoan-ji in Kyoto: of all the gardens there, this is a spectacular garden of gravel and stone — period. Here’s a way to think about that: the great Spanish poet, Federico García Lorca talked about “duende.”

“The Pantheon is imbued with such power and I think it’s mysterious. You finally get to the point where you can’t explain why.”

You mean like a spirit or soul?

Right, literally translated from Catalán, duende means “soul.” A spiritual aura. Conceptually, he thought of it as most clearly embodied in the flamenco performance, yet a poem can obviously contain duende, as can a performance or even a building. Take the Pantheon for example, there’s something about it, it’s transcendental; it’s mystical like the Alhambra in a way. And you can say, “Well it’s a one-liner building,” because you walk in and it’s just a big dome. But it’s imbued with such power and I think it’s mysterious. You finally get to the point where you can’t explain why.

Is that something you think about when you’re designing a building?

Well, you can’t make it happen. You can’t say, “I’m going to put some duende in my project now.” Something from within you — through process, through hard work or maybe this is really easy sometimes — comes out and touches other people in the way that García Lorca’s poetry has touched people. I think that it’s something you can’t strive for. You keep the doorway open. And sometimes it’s the side door where something can sneak in. It might surprise you. It might be more authentic than your central focus.

How do you keep that doorway open for yourself?

I used to ride motorcycles across the desert — I still do. A motorcycle is a tool, but for me it’s a spiritual companion. And riding a motorcycle is very much about architecture.

Nelson Fine Arts Center at the Arizona State University, 1989© Antoine Predock Architect PC

In what ways?

Well, through the experiential contact with the landscape and the world. I was camping in Chaco Canyon and there is an incredible ruin there called Pueblo Bonito that is from the medieval times, built around the 12th century. And I was sleeping there under the stars — and a kangaroo rat got in bed with me! Kangaroo rats are really cute, you know. (Laughs) And I just said, “Okay, he’s just getting warm,” because the desert night here is very different from the Mojave Desert for example, where it’s like being in a furnace all the time. This was the desert with extreme diurnal temperature swings: it’s cold at night and really hot in the daytime. I could go on and on about my desert experiences!

How does this fascination translate to your work as an architect?

Here’s an example… I found a beer can in the Arabian desert when I was working in Qatar and the desert climate had sandblasted it. It was pure, beautiful aluminum and on the other side where it was buried you could see the Pepsi Cola brand. That became an iconic thing for me, a symbol of what it was like to work in the desert — you don’t mess around! You don’t just bring things you’ve done in the rest of the world to some new place and just put them there for the hell of it , because you can’t think of any kind of response.

César Pelli said that it’s a mistake for American architects to go to other countries and design an American building.

Right, that’s just lazy to me. And that can be the case anywhere, not just in the desert, I’m going to think about the same stuff. But I am like a closeted cultural anthropologist! (Laughs)People used to say, “Oh Antoine, you’re just a regionalist from New Mexico.” I’m proud of that! But I’m a portable regionalist because I take what I learned here anywhere I go.

“What I do is a dance with the client. It’s a poetic encounter.”

Regionalist yet very forward thinking, almost futuristic. Your CLA Building even plays a central part in the sci-fi film Gattaca.

Being site-specific doesn’t mean that it’s nostalgically site-specific. It has nothing to do with that. Site-specificity has nothing to do with architectural style. It has to do with the spirit of the place, “alma de lugar” as they say in Spanish, “soul of the place.” When I make my work, I think of me being like a movie director or a choreographer because what I do is a dance with the client. It’s a poetic encounter. And a dance is back and forth, right? You have a client who is a believer and most clients are not going to connect me with me if they’re not some kind of believer.

But you’re also trying to make the viewer a believer as well, right?

Exactly, you’re making an episodic, yet connected, experience for the viewer. That building is a very exploratory building and there are choreographic intentions about space: it’s about connecting points in space with the body — I think architecture is definitely choreographic. This kind of thinking bypasses rational understanding and goes directly to an inner impulse. This is an old-fashioned way of thinking, and that extends into my work at every level, it’s not a clear-cut intellectual process. Architecture is a ride, for sure. Take a ride, and let your thoughts give you a ride. And don’t control them too much!

Source: The Talk

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‘The Square’ Interview with Ruben Östlund, Claes Bang and Elisabeth Moss




Director Ruben Östlund is an adventurer of Swedish film and a hard man to satiate. It is seen in his Oscar-nominated film – The Square that has received much attention. Here is an excerpt from the interview with The Playlist as actors Claes Bang and Elisabeth Moss share their experience with the movie and the director.

Claes Bang: Can I tell you a funny story from Cannes?

Elisabeth Moss: Yeah.

Claes Bang: When we were [at Cannes] there was this Screen International journalist, Wendy Mitchell, and she saw the film, she loved it, and she started [rooting] for me as best actor. She put on her Facebook page she put “The Daily Bang” and posted a new photo of me every day. Invented the hashtag #BangforBond.

Elisabeth Moss: So good!

Claes Bang : At the end of the festival, all these predictions come out, right? My agents were fanning me. “It says in Variety now that you’re gonna win. It says in the Daily Telegraph you’re gonna win. It says in The Guardian.” It said everywhere and I started fucking believing the hype. I did. I started believing the hype, because everybody was saying, “It’s an amazing film. It’s so fucking good, but you’re not gonna win the big thing because it’s too funny.” So when we got that phone call on Sunday…

The Playlist: And they told Ruben to come, too, it wasn’t just…

Claes Bang: No, no. They invite the entire crew that is there. So they said to come and I was like, “Fuck, I’m gonna get [an] award.” So when they said, “And the award for Best Actor goes to,” I was almost fucking getting my ass out of the seat and then they said, “Joaquin Phoenix.” I was like, “Okay, I’ll stay put.” Then the next prize went, the next prize went, the next prize went and there was just one left. I leaned over to Rupert and I said, “Unless they’re really fucking with us, we’re gonna get the big one.” We got the big one and I was like, really, really so fucking happy about it, and he was, and everything was exploding, and then five minutes later I was like, “Wait a fucking second. What the fuck was that? He stole my award,that fucking Swedish wanker.” (Laughs.) So what happened is that all the people that get the awards, they go off to a press conference.

Elisbeth Moss: Yeah.

The Playlist: Yeah, I was at the press conferences.

Claes Bang: There’s an amazing party that starts out on the top of the Palais overlooking this harbor with all the boats and everything. Then you go down to the beach where there’s a department of a French restaurant that’s just the most amazing food, champagne, people in tuxes. I mean, amazing. I started to get a little bit pissed. I got quite drunk and then Ruben came back from the press conference and I saw him over there, and I was like, “I’m fucking gonna hurt him now. I’m fucking gonna go over there and kick his ass.”

The Playlist: Really?

Claes Bang: I was so mad. I was really … and I have done really, really stupid stuff when I’m drunk. So, I said to my wife, “We need to leave now.” So we left.

Elisabeth Moss: That’s the danger of believing the hype! That’s why after eight nominations I will never convince me of anything else other than that I’m gonna lose.

Claes Bang: And Ruben texted me something at [1 AM asking] “Where the fuck are you? I mean, we won and everybody’s asking for you.” I mean, everybody there had seen that film and unless you know Ruben, you don’t know that he is the guy, but everybody knew that I was sort of the lead of the film. And I was just…

Elisabeth Moss: Gone.

Claes Bang: I was gone.

The Playlist: But when you woke up the next morning with the hangover were you at least excited?

Claes Bang: I had to get up like, fuck dead early the next morning. That was one of the things. I had a show in Edinburgh that next night.

The Playlist: But when you were going to the airport, on the plane, you must have been thinking “Holy cow!” because when you make a movie you don’t necessarily think it’s going to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

Claes Bang: No, and my wife, she was so fucking mad with me. She said, “We’re leaving the party of our lives. There’s boom boom boom and they all want to talk to you, and now we’re leaving.” “Yes,” I said, “This is not where I’m gonna kill a director or try and break the Palme d’Or in half to say ‘This is mine’ or something.”

Elisabeth Moss: But how Ruben Ostlund would that have been if the lead actor and the director got into a fight?

Claes Bang: Exactly.

The Playlist: Yes!

Claes Bang: When I told him this story, because I’ve told him and I’ve told the press and everything now, he was just like, “This is the best story of the whole shoot.”

Elisabeth Moss: Yeah, it’s the greatest!

The Playlist: He’s gonna put this in a movie now. You realize this, right?

Claes Bang: It’s cool. It’s fine. It’s no problem. Listen, what I actually find quite funny is that when you think about it, it’s like, “Oh my God, no. Did I do that?” But when I tell the story people are like, “Finally, someone is coming out and saying I was really, really disappointed not to win.”

Elisabeth Moss: Right. Totally, yes.

Claes Bang: It was literally something like five or six places where it said, “He’s gonna win it.” I fucking believed it.

Elisabeth Moss: Of course. It’s dangerous!

The Playlist: By the way, I’m one of those people that do the stuff that say “these people are going to win.”

Elisabeth Moss: Right, exactly!

The Playlist: So, I guess I apologize?

Elisabeth Moss: No, by all means. It’s your job, but it’s like…

Claes Bang: I have this thing also that was like, “Okay, they really invited a rookie to Cannes. Now we’re gonna fuck with him.”

The Playlist: It’s not personal!

Claes Bang: “We’re gonna build him up, we’re gonna make him believe, and then-”

Elisabeth Moss: “We’re gonna take it away. Just to teach him a lesson.”

The Playlist: Elisabeth, you weren’t at the ceremony. Were you there for the premiere and then you left?

Elisabeth Moss: I went to Antibes which is like 45 minutes, a half an hour away or something. Nobody asked me to go to the Palme d’Or Ceremony.

The Playlist: Oh, they didn’t call and tell you? I thought they gave everyone 24 hours notice.

Claes Bang: No. For instance, if you’re in Japan and you’ve gone back to Japan and you’re getting an award, they will let you know in time so you can get on a plane.

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Christo, you and your wife Jeanne-Claude were born on the exact same day in 1935, but in completely different countries. Do you believe in destiny?

Jeanne-Claude always said, “There are a million people born on the same day.” But it happened that we met, that’s all. That is something not unusual. But there are many things that are not destiny. You make your own destiny.

You worked together for nearly 50 years. Would you have become the same artist without her?

It’s the same question to ask, “What would happen if I were Chinese?” (Laughs) We cannot discuss these things – if, if, if – there are no ifs. After living for 80 years, there are no ifs. I can only say one if and it was that I was rather lucky to escape in 1957 to the West. I had never been outside of Bulgaria until 1956 and if I didn’t go to the West, things would have probably been different.

The Soviets had a very strict policy against modern art so you might have not made art at all.

I was drawing all the time as a little boy, like 5 or 6 years old, and it was at this age that I decided to be an artist. There was never a thought about anything else. But it’s true, in the late ’40s and early ’50s most modern art was not permitted to be seen in the Soviet Bloc countries. There were some very bad reproductions and old books… I desperately tried to go beyond Bulgaria and the Soviet Bloc, but even going to other communist countries was very difficult. Fortunately my aunt and my uncle were living in Prague and finally I succeeded in finding a way to visit them. And I was totally flabbergasted by Prague!


It was the most Western country. Even before the chance to fully escape came into view, I had already decided that I was never going to go back to Bulgaria! I was going to stay in Prague. I was young, like 21 years old, and when you’re young and you discover the relatively small freedom of the Western art in Czechoslovakia and Prague in the late ’50s, suddenly you dream of going to Paris! And this is how the stage was set for me to go to Paris.

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Ms. Roš, what are the main challenges in Slovenian cuisine today?

I think Slovenia is slowly, slowly stepping on the world gastronomic map. But my generation of chefs needs to fight for every single step, and every decision is opening a new door. If you work in Italy or Germany, and you cook well, sooner or later you will get the recognition that you need — there is the Michelin Guide, there is Gault Millau, there is the L’Espresso Guide. While in Slovenia, you can be really good, but up to the moment when the international community acknowledges you, you are actually no one.

You have been the head chef of Hiša Franko in Kobarid for almost 20 years — and it wasn’t until this year that you were recognized as the number one female chef by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants academy.

Right, it’s a very, very slow process. Everybody travels for food to Copenhagen, London, or Paris, but who knows where Kobarid is? So it has been a long, long struggle and fight. It doesn’t have only to do with the quality of the restaurant; you have to prove that you are worth certain awards three times more than in developed countries.

“Creativity is something that does not come only from our childhood — it has a lot to do with our own personality.”

I guess the former Yugoslavia doesn’t necessarily come to mind as a haven for creativity in fine dining. What was it like growing up there in the 1990s?

Well, my mother was actually a brilliant cook. She was a journalist and a very creative person, so our meals at home were very colorful and never repeated. But if I think of the food from my childhood, I think of a simple pasta dish with homemade tomato sauce. It really was a super flavorful meal, with a drop of olive oil on the top and with no cheese. That was the most loved meal when I was a child! That is what they call, “happy food.” You know, my children would kill for it.

My parents lived through the communist regime and told me they used to get so excited over simple things like bananas because they were so rare.

Yes but you know, Yugoslavia never had a very strict organization of the country — the borders were open and we could travel. Tito was a “bon vivant” and he was letting his people have a pretty free life. So Yugoslavia had a lot of good things as well. I think Yugoslavia was a place with a lot of creative people; culture was super strong, especially in Zagreb and Belgrade. But I think that creativity is something that either is in a person or is not. Let’s say I have two children and they are both raised in the same way. The girl is super creative and totally irrational, while the boy is totally rational and not creative at all. I think it is something that does not come only from our childhood or from our upbringing or from the regime in which we lived in — it has a lot to do with our own personality.

Do you feel more creative and irrational, or the other way around?

Oh, I’m too instinctive sometimes! You see, my problem — and sometimes it is also a good thing — is that I don’t question a lot. I actually just jump in the water and swim and I am a kind of personality that is never happy with average results. At Hiša Franko, I never questioned myself about how it is going to be like, especially because I never had any prior experience of seeing how a restaurant really works and I’m completely self-taught so it was like a total experiment and we are still making corrections.

Source: The Talk

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