Originally intended as a homage to influential Dadaist Kurt Schwitters, Zaha Hadid’s last project at Galerie Gmurzynskam in Zurich, Switzerland, conceived by the architect before her untimely death, has become a double tribute honouring her as well.
An installation of works from the archives of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) reconfigures the gallery’s entire ground floor space into a sleek, futuristic grotto in black and white.
The installation takes its cue from Schwitters’s Merzbau, an endlessly evolving collaged sculpture made of scraps that the artist constructed in his Hannover apartment between the two World Wars.
The original Merzbau was destroyed by bombing in 1937, but Schwitters built several other Merzbauten after the war.
“It’s literally the last project of Zaha, finished by her team.” Patrik Schumacher, senior designer and director of ZHA said,.
Schumacher had worked closely with Hadid since 1988, and sees the architect’s deep interest in modern art as having played a formative role in her vision.
“Zaha Hadid’s most radical expansion of design repertoires for architecture and urbanism is inspired by an explosion of possibilities through early abstract art movements at the beginning of the century,” he said.
Schumacher explained identifies a number of signature elements in Hadid’s design vocabulary that can be traced back to Dada and allied art movements
These include the manipulation of perspective, through the explosion of shapes away from a fixed point, to the concept of a building as a single flowing landscape.
“Every now and then we need radical brainstorming mutation sessions where we have to give ourselves up and allow ourselves to be thrust and pushed out of that space of preconception,” he said. “I think that’s the profound message of Dada.”
The show’s timing and location are highly symbolic: the Zurich space of the gallery is located in the same building where, 100 years ago, the very first Dada exhibition took place. A stone’s throw away, the Cabaret Voltaire—birthplace of Dada—is still in full swing, thanks in no small part to its dedicated director Adrian Notz, who also curated the art works in this show.
“It’s also symbolic for the future of Zaha Hadid Architects,” said gallery director Mathias Rastorfer.