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Mr Monkey sees osa/MERZEN/ at the CUBE, 9th March

Mr Monkey looking at a Merz collage by Kurt Schwitters
Mr Monkey looking at a collection of random architectural features
Mr Monkey looking at a window made of plastic crates Once he'd seen I'm Electric, You're Electric, Mr Monkey scurried along to to Portland Street to visit the Centre for the Urban Built Environment to see the osa/MERZEN/ exhibition.

This exhibition is organised by the Office for Subversive Architecture (who had impressed Mr Monkey with their Urban Oasis in 2005) The exhibition is inspired by the work of Kurt Schwitters (1887 - 1948), who invented a collage technique he called merz (the name apparently appeared when the letterhead of the Commerz und Privatbank was torn up for a collage).

He applied the same collage technique to arranging his house in Hanover. Starting in the 1920s Schwitters created a complicated series of decorated rooms and grottoes over several floors, calling the whole thing the Merzbau. He carried on modifying the Hanover house until he fled Germany for Norway after being declared a degenerate artist by the Nazi party. In 1940 Schwitters had to leave Norway for Great Britain, where he lived for the rest of his life. He constructed merz buildings in Oslo and Ambleside; the original Hanover building was destroyed by an RAF bombing raid in 1943.

Mr Monkey studied a collage created by Kurt Schwitters, YMCA Flag, Thank You, Ambleside, 1947, then looked at the vastish collection of potential components donated by various organisations for the osa to turn CUBE into a sort of merzbau. He scampered around the rest of the building searching out the architectural interventions that the osa had arranged. Mr Monkey wasn't sure exactly who had put in all these installations, but he enjoyed scampering around the building looking at strange arrangements of doors, and windows created from plastic crates, and just general bizarreness with a merz-informed aesthetic.

The project is ongoing and Mr Monkey decided it would probably be a good idea to visit it again to look for changes.

After he'd explored osa/MERZEN/ Mr Monkey examined Something in the Pipeline by Jason Minsky and William Titley, also at the CUBE.

8th April

Mr Monkey looking at the osa/MERZEN/ door in the window of the CUBE
Mr Monkey looking at a strange structure of plastic components
Mr Monkey looking at wooden pallets concealing a collage by Kurt Schwitters
Mr Monkey looking at a glass door sticking out of a wall
A little less than a month after his first visit to osa/MERZEN/ Mr Monkey scampered back to the CUBE. Between visits the osa had completed the osa/MERZEN/ installation, and Mr Monkey wanted to see what they'd done.

He saw a door on the outside of the building which he hadn't noticed before (though it might have been there the first time), and found that the collage by Kurt Schwitters had been concealed by a wall of old industrial pallets. The collage is still visible, but only to people good at peering between strips of wood.

Beside the window made of plastic crates he found another elaborate structure of plastic crates and assorted bits.

At the foot of the stairs Mr Monkey was rather taken by an unconventionally positioned door.

Later he left the gallery via the RIBA bookshop, going through a human-shaped arch to get there.
Mr Monkey looking at the human silhouette cut-out on the way to the RIBA shop

osa/MERZEN/ runs until April 16th 2011.

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