Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret designed and built Villa Savoye between 1928 and 1931. The modernist marvel was intended to represent the late architect's Five Points manifesto, in which the practice, aesthetic and intention of architecture was questioned through the lens of modernity.
The manifesto began as a set of five principles, developed by Le Corbusier at the beginning of his career. Firstly was Pilotis, whereby supporting walls were replaced by a grid of reinforced concrete columns in the aims of achieving a new aesthetic.
Secondly, Le Corbusier championed the absence of supporting walls in hopes of keeping the interior flow as unrestrained as possible. He then looked to the free design of the façade, meaning that the front of the building was separate from its function. His last points involved horizontal windows running the length of the facade, and roof gardens for both domestic and preservation purposes.
Each of these elements are most visible in Villa Savoye, located on the outskirts of Paris in Poissy. And it is the building's association with modernity that artist Asmund Havsteen-Mikkelsen was compelled to discuss through his latest work 'Flooded Modernity'.
'Villa Savoye from has played a major role in my art,' he said. 'The house is perhaps the most iconic construction within architectural modernism because it expresses Le Corbusier’s Five Principles of New Architecture as a living-machine. Like a space ship, the house has landed on earth with the promise of a new time for a new human being freed from history and living in a rationally illuminated world.'
The artist felt it reflected an almost 'optimistic' belief, that the world really could be made better through critical reason – and describes it as a 'ghost haunting our collective consciousness'.
Jump from 1928 to 2018. We're in the midst of some of the most unpredictable and turbulent times the world has seen recent history. Events taking place across the globe have got the general public questioning their own view of modernity – what does it mean in 2018? Where's the optimism that the term once reflected? Havsteen-Mikkelsen isn't sure. But to him, it is slowly grinding to a halt.
'I let Villa Savoye ‘run aground’ in Vejle Fjord, it is a comment on the state of modernity today. The geopolitical events of recent years – Brexit, the election of Trump, Putin’s interference in democratic elections, the advancement of right-wing radicals in Europe – are happening with a background in and through the new digital media, which challenge modernity’s classic notions of a critical public. A challenge through the formation of fake news, private information bubbles, and in dissolving the economic foundation of the traditional critical news media.'
However, it isn't all doom and gloom. While the work is absolutely intended as a critique of the present, it also strives to place importance on the future, and how the legacy of modernity can be served.
Floating Modernity is currently on show as part of the Floating Art Festival at Vejle Museerne, which runs until 2 September.
All photography by Asmund Havsteen-Mikkelsen.