Bodo Buhl

Flamingo, 1982

The work Flamingo involves sculpture, an apartment lamp, urban lighting fixtures, and the architectural model all at once. With a hexagonal structure, it develops upwards, punctuated by the layering and regular juxtaposition of translucent red rectangles, and plays on the light, appearing lit up or dark depending on the ambient brightness. A sign—the word Flamingo—from the 1950 surmounts the tower. In 1946, Bugsy Siegel, a member of the East Coast American mafia, opened the Flamingo casino in an arid area on the border of three states (Nevada, California and Arizona), at the southern tip of Death Valley. He thus ushered in what would become Las Vegas otherwise known as “sin city”. Other hotels were built round about and borrowed this name and image of a pink flamingo, reproducing this idea of a “flaming” space: burning like the sun, excessive, fuelled by alcohol where “big spenders” came to gamble their fortunes as well as their lives. Flamingo became the myth of architectural, urban and financial boom in the middle of the desert. The work thus formally conjures up all the features attaching to the name which it brandishes like a sign. Running counter to the modern and minimalist understanding of the idea of foundation, Bodo Bühl here reminds us of the role of the narrative account, which cannot cut itself off from its historical, social and symbolic context.

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