the rigorous m

bits and bobs, quotes and catching up

Archive for November, 2016

de Zegher on Hartoum’s dirt and disorder

Posted by rigorousm on November 22, 2016

“The work horrifies some, who avoid contact with Hatoum’s bodily rejects as if they threaten defilement. A stray hair on a shirt or a dress or a coat is instantly brushed away. While connoting beauty and identity, the most delicate, eroticized and last of human materials is also considered unclean, as ‘matter out of place.’ To quote Mary Douglas… ‘dirt is essentially disorder; there is no such thing as absolute dirt: it exists in the eye of the beholder.’ This approach implies two conditions: ‘a set of ordered relations and a contravention of that order. Dirt then, is never a unique, isolated event. Where there is dirt there is system. Dirt is the by-product of a systematic ordering and classification of matter, in so far as ordering involves rejecting inappropriate elements.’ Leading us directly into symbolic systems of purity– and consequently towards issues of power and oppression– Hatoum’s work is a complex reflection on bodily pollution, involving the relation of order to disorder, being to non-being, form to formlessness, life to death. … the screened yet excessive presence of an absent, dispersed body.”

Catherine de Zegher, “Hatoum’s Recollection: About Losing and Being Lost,” 88-107 in Mona Hatoum.p 93.

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On museums

Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

The idea is that of immobilizing the presumed totality of the world in a finite space. The totality is imprisoned in the drawer where the flux of time remains frozen. Accumulation has as its correlative the infinitely small– miniaturization. [In response to our current trend toward specialization of knowledge] we perhaps need to ask how such setting, aimed at containing the entire world in a single place, can so pique our interest….

Georges Teyssot and Jessica Levine, “”The Simple Day and the Light of the Sun”: Light and Shadows in the Museum.“ Assemblage 12, 1990. pp58-83. p 66.

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on costume

Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

The right costume makes one want to kill. It shifts the body’s weight and so alters its opinions. It is a way of hiding. It gives us freedom from ourselves, just as jail frees the prisoner from life […] [Lars] was austere by nature, and here he was lost in the luxuries of death. Few men can swagger naked. They need the weight of steel boots.

People of the Book, David Stacton. LARB review.

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Arets on architectural realization

Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

Architecture is a desire for purity, a striving for perfection. Its principal colour is white. White marks a process in which the undecidable is respected and in which, for a short time, it is neither a question of meaningful or meaningless.
… Architecture is virginal. Its entire logic is a logic of the maidenhead: it risks something that is only of short duration. It appears only to disappear. … It presents us with its freshness and untaintedness, but only briefly, for it will lose those properties precisely by offering them to us.
Architecture is therefore a between, a membrane, an alabaster skin, a thing that is at once opaque and transparent, meaningful and meaningless, real and unreal. To become itself, architecture must lose its innocence; it must accept a violent transgression of its existence. It can only become part of the world by entering into marriage with its surroundings.Therefore architecture is not only virginal but violent too, and its violence once again has two sides. On one side it is violent because it resists having to be the victim of its surroundings and on the other it can influence those surroundings and bend them to its will. Marriage has lent it cunning
.

“An alabaster skin,” Wiel Arets.

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Manaugh on Lebbeus Woods

Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

Architecture, if you will, is a Wile E. Coyote moment where you look down and realize the universe is missing—that you are standing on empty air—so you construct for yourself a structure or space in which you might somehow attempt survival. Architecture is more than buildings. It is a spacesuit. It is a counter-planet—or maybe it is the only planet, always and ever a terraforming of this alien location we call the Earth.

Geoff Manaugh on Lebbeus Woods

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on Hartoum

Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

If dirt/disorder spoils pattern, … it also supplies the source materials for pattern. [Extended description of Recollection, wherein scattered hairballs define organized ‘smooth space’ and regularly hanging hairs define entangled ‘striated space,’ invoking the difference between optical and material arrangement and the logic of weaving.] … Because order always indicates limitation, disorder has by implication limitless potential for patterning. A destructive force for any existing pattern, dirt also has this potential and therefore symbolizes both danger and power. One of the most fundamental principles for organizing space is the grid, which originated in the plain weave with its horizontal-vertical intersection of two separate systems of thread: the weft and the warp. …
.. the grid structures in Recollection allude to corporal chastisement; its ‘hard lines’ paradoxically evoke the sadistic impulses of the blank space, trapping the viewer in disorientation. While the grid can potentially provide a sense of security, its rigid structure also implies the compulsion to master three-dimensional space and to define both the land and the body as territory or property. Through the beholder’s movements, Hatoum’s regular tracings seem to dissolve or dematerialize. A careful phenomenological reading of her work even compares to the finely drawn grids of Agnes Martin’s canvases or Gego’s kinaesthetic wire structures Reticularea (Ambientacion) and Dibujos sin papel (Drawings without Paper) which reveal transformations in materiality as the viewing distance changes. The fabric of the grid, the very weft of the work, distorts, shifts or fractures, leaving the subject-viewer without a singular vantage point to provide a sense of control. Hers is a haptic rather than optical perception; the artist is unwilling to provide a precise focus for the eye, a unique locus from which to observe the other. Drawing on the grid and its obsessive structure of repetition while subverting its logic of organization, her works embody multi-directional relations to a world where ‘threatening’ difference is mitigated and negotiated.

Catherine de Zegher, “Hatoum’s Recollection: About Losing and Being Lost” pp 99-100.

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Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

Knowing how to live is the fundamental question before modern society, everywhere, in the whole world. An ingenuous question and one that could be considered childish. How to live? Do you know how, reader? Do you know how to live soundly, strongly, gaily, free of the hundred stupidities established by habit, custom, and urban disorganization?

Le Corbusier, introduction to When The Cathedrals Were White, 1946.

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living in vs using space

Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

The idea of living is easy to define.
You use a hotel room, you live in the room in your home.
It is therefore obvious that to live implies extending your own personality into space, and marking it out and shaping through your own choices. It has not always been possible to do this freely, especially in the past. Our choices (in terms of arranging objects and featuring the space) have often been condition by fashionand by the desire to imitate models… more or less handed down…. But… society was … moving towards forms of eclecticism which I have defined as “neo-eclecticism,” and in this sense the use of instruments for organising space was freed up, without taboos. … there are still ways of “defining” the way we signify our lived space. These are directly linked to different sense of belonging … more than the possibility otherwise of buying specific objects.
The idea of living, however, is not only linked to domestic space, but also to collective space. In the 1950s, the Situationist International argued that “to live is to be at home everywhere,” a slogan which marked out collective space as a place where individual or common social personalities could be mapped out and expanded.
Living the city allows for the expansion of your own identity and for experimentation with various kinds of socialisation which leads us towards an idea of the city which is not that of architects (who make buildings).
“If you think about it, your city is made up of the people you talk to and communicated with everyday,” I wrote in 1978. Following these guidelines, we can start to rethink the city as a place not simply made up of houses and streets, but of places to live in.

Ugo La Pietra, arbitare 532, “reading the designed environment,”  7/2013.  

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Categories of public space

Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

Fear is a primary force driving the proliferation of socially homogenous and controlled enclaves, gated communities, and theme parks. And it is fear that determines the definition of what is left of public space.
To keep fear– all the various forms of fear that have possessed us– at bay, we have resorted to remedies such as the illumination of public space, its enclosure and segregation, and video surveillance. According to Steven Flusty, certain characteristics are introduced into urban spaces in order to make them repellent to the public. Flusty’s discouraging list includes: “stealthy spaces” (spaces that cannot be found); “slippery spaces” (spacaes that cannot be reached); “crusty spaces” (spaces that cannot be accessed); “prickly spaces” (spaces that cannot be comfortably occupied); and “jittery spaces” (spaces that cannot be utilized unobserved). … urban space ought to be shaped by the concept of “mixophilia,” to favour and encourage the possibility of “living peacefully and happily with difference, and taking advantage of the variety of stimuli.”

Mirko Zardini, “Toward a Sensorial Urbanism,”Sense of the City: an alternate approach to urbanism, p 20.

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On privacy and garbage

Posted by rigorousm on November 20, 2016

Prosecutor Mark McDonnell says that once you set your garbage out on the curb, it becomes public property. … “She placed her garbage can out in the open, open to public view, in the public right of way,” McDonnell told Judge Jean Kerr Maurer earlier this month. “There were no signs on the garbage, ‘Do not open. Do not trespass.’ There was every indication…she had relinquished her privacy, possessory interest.”

The question of whether your trash is private might seem academic. It’s not. Your garbage can is like a trap door that opens on to your most intimate secrets; what you toss away is, in many ways, just as revealing as what you keep.

There is something about poking through someone else’s garbage that makes you feel dirty, and it’s not just the stench and the flies. Scrap by scrap, we are reverse-engineering a grimy portrait of another human being, reconstituting an identity from his discards, probing into stuff that is absolutely, positively none of our damn business.

Willamette Weekly’s RUBBISH! Portland’s top brass said it was OK to swipe your garbage–so we grabbed theirs. (original article link)

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