Fabrication: Tom Farrage Co.
Dancing Bleachers was a part of the exhibition, “Fabrications,” that was organized and presented simultaneously by the Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio. Four projects were presented at each of the three venues. The Dancing Bleachers was presented at the Wexner. In total, Fabrications presented full-scale architectural installations by each of the twelve architects.
Dancing Bleachers contests the conception of building premised on the grid as a structural order, as a spatial order, as an organizational order. The new Wexner Center by Peter Eisenman is an exhaustive exploration of grid derived space. The grid as a plan or section norm, or that same grid folded or bent variously accounts for the form and space, inside and out, of the Wexner gallery where the Dancing Bleachers was installed. The grid, in an abstract conceptual sense, whether as a town plan or a curtain wall, is a system of equity, even neutrality, rather than hierarchy. In its essence, the grid has no center. The Dancing Bleachers project offered an alternative to the order of the grid. So the Dancing Bleacher exhibit challenged the design premise of the hall in which the exhibit was housed.
Dancing bleachers originates as a sequence of curvilinear forms, and in that fundamental sense, offers what the gallery space cannot – the concept of center. As an alternative to the order of the grid-based gallery space where it sits, the Dancing Bleachers consists of a concentric ring of seats, organized around a center or focal point where performance takes place. The connection of the ring structure to the gallery structure amends, temporarily, the single-mindedness of the grid.
The organization of curved steel structural supports for the seats all reference a single center in plan. Because the design had to fit within the allotted space of the gallery, the conventional representation of seating was not plausible, nor was it necessary to the conception. The suggestion of a seated audience – the stepping steel rods – with imaginary performers at the conceptual center was sufficient.
Although substantially different, both in scale and as building typology, an essential connection exists between the Dancing Bleachers and the Jefferson Tower (#18). Located in Los Angeles, the tower pursues a structural typology that challenges the traditional gridded structure and curtain wall, suggesting, as in Columbus, that the concentric structural ribbons, an analogue to neither conventional columns nor beams, but to column-beams simultaneously, originate at a single center as origin of the geometries that surround it. The two projects – exhibit and tower – were designed at roughly the same time in 1998.