I am not a very balanced person. I am fragile and sad – almost as described in Triste Tropiques by Claude Lévi-Strauss. I feel both those adjectives, I grew up with them. I was aware of my fragility even when I was very young – a baby, learning to walk, living somewhere in Africa and already feeling that the number of white persons was very small compared to the number of black persons and also noticing that most of the black persons that I met were gardeners or maids. I felt – I am sure I am not lying – even at that very young age, not a sense of injustice, but a sort of guilt.
Guilt for what? My parents were nice people, they treated everyone well. My father was avidly learning languages, he spoke many African languages and also Pidgin English very well and he used to speak it...
Dresdener Str. 118
Dresdener Str. 118
Late twentieth-century American architecture is so saturated with various forms of irony that it seems suspiciously like the single unifying theme of the age.
The recourse to irony may seem singularly inappropriate to the field of architecture if by architecture one ascribes Durand’s “the art of the necessary.” Building as structure, material, and social program would seem to be the most direct and irony-free cultural phenomenon: structure and materials have a legal responsibility to function properly; and shelter is a basic human imperative. In this sense there is incontrovertible quiddity in the weight, expense, and purpose of architecture. But if one asks, along with Nikolaus Pevsner, if utilitarian structures such as the bicycle shed qualify as architecture, one is forced to recognize that architecture belongs to a discourse that goes far beyond the phenomenal acts of shelter and construction because it is circumscribed by texts and subject to interpretation. With the recognition of the textuality of architecture, the question of irony, a quintessential result of interpretation, becomes a significant effect of architecture, if not...
1. L’art n’est pas la descente sublime de l’infini dans l’abjection finie du corps et du sexe. Il est au contraire la production, par le moyen fini d’une soustraction matérielle, d’une série subjective infinie.
2. L’art ne saurait être expression de la particularité, qu’elle soit ethnique ou moïque. Il est la production impersonnelle d’une vérité qui s’adresse à tous.
3. La vérité dont l’art est le processus est toujours vérité du sensible, en tant que sensible. Ce qui veut dire : transformation du sensible en événement de l’Idée.
4. Il y a nécessairement pluralité des arts, et quelles que soient les intersections imaginables, aucune totalisation de cette pluralité n’est, elle, imaginable.
5. Tout art est venu d’une forme impure, et la purification de cette impureté compose l’histoire, et de la vérité artistique, et de son exténuation.
6. Les sujets d’une vérité artistique sont les œuvres qui la composent.
7. Cette composition est une configuration infinie, qui,...
The radicalisation of the process of civilisation is a challenge to art, even an overwhelming one. High-modernist art, with its claims to understanding and expressing the world, positioned within a world that has become highly complex, is challenged by itself.
How is one to dance against Auschwitz or Hiroshima?
The sheer attempt to “dance against” anything would be naïve! Art after modernism – and I think the date 1945 would serve very well as a point of reference – had to and must now relinquish its own irresolvable complexity and retreat. It becomes in a sense truly radical but it would be more accurate to say it becomes nuclear, focussing on the core. Beckett’s plays are destilled cores – their greatness lies in their smallness. Absolute music, absolute art – Merce Cunningham’s dance could well be termed absolute dance in this sense – cristallises something from out of the cultural forms of bourgeois art, something which can...
The very idea of a Thomas Jefferson Memorial was held up to ridicule: for a few advanced thinkers, it appeared that “the day of the ‘monument’ is over.”
The 1930s were an auspicious time for Jefferson. Never had Jefferson’s star shone brighter or seemed closer; never had it been followed by so many, including the current president. In an epiphany that had left him “breathless,” Roosevelt had recently discovered Jefferson’s pertinence to his own times. Henceforth, Roosevelt spoke privately of Jefferson “as if he had been one of his grandfathers,” while publicly he unerringly sought and found every occasion when Jefferson could be cited or honored, celebrating Jefferson’s progressiveness and making him the patron saint of the liberal but nonetheless most un-Jeffersonian New Deal.
The commemoration of Jefferson could draw on a rich blend of what Merrill Peterson has called the “images of Jefferson.” The older image of Jefferson as the “Great Commoner” and champion “of the little man”—which could not fail to have a special resonance in the period of the Great Depression—and as American revolutionary were complemented...