The Graphics of Wrath

With Countryside, The Future, Rem Koolhaas and the Guggenheim offer a foie-gras approach of feeding the arts establishment uncomfortable, seemingly indigestible content.

Laurian Ghinitoiu/Courtesy AMO

  • Countryside, The Future, curated by Rem Koolhaas and Samir Bantal, was on view at the Guggenheim Museum from February 20, 2020, to February 15, 2021.

A New York architect born and bred on the great rural plains of Nebraska, I’m here to offer some country-almanac predictions for the not-yet-installed Rem Koolhaas/AMO/Guggenheim exhibition Countryside, The Future.

Koolhaas, in refusing to follow Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid’s lead as the third in a line of recent architectural subjects warranting full-spiral career retrospectives at the Guggenheim, has opted—as might be expected—for the unexpected choice instead: to fill the museum with research on the countryside done by his office and students. Here we will enter the world of data—or in this case, the data of the world—as the exhibition aims to “explore radical changes in the rural, remote, and wild territories collectively identified here as ‘countryside,’ or the 98% of the earth’s [landmass] surface.”

The move is a welcome respite from the predictable alternative-universe scenario: a Guggenh…

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