by Jacqueline Pezzillo Assoc. AIA LEED AP
Event: Toward ANARCHITECTURE: A Conversation between Architects and Artists
Location: Center for Architecture, 12.16.09
Speakers: Vito Acconci — Artist, Designer, Acconci Studio; Dan Graham — Artist; James Wines — Founder & President, SITE
Moderator: Beatriz Colomina — Professor of Architecture & Founding Director, Program in Media and Modernity, Princeton University
Organizer: AIANY New Practices Committee
Gordon Matta-Clark defined “anarchitecture” as “an attempt at clarifying ideas about space which are personal insights and reactions rather than socio-political statements.” Matta-Clark was not anti-architecture; he re-interpreted the discipline’s formal definition. In the fourth and final panel discussion of the series “Toward Anarchitecture,” a collection of designers whose portfolios reflect Matta-Clark’s school of thought discussed their work and trajectory of thought throughout their careers.
James Wines, founder and president of SITE and author of several books on the fusion of art and architecture, cited Le Corbusier as an innovator in cross-disciplinary context and hybrid design. His chapel in Ronchamp is exemplary of an “edifice as a piece of sculpture,” rather than sculpture being applied to a building as art, Wines claimed. In his own work, he found that by revisiting formal strategies he could uncover “a way of dissecting and transforming prejudices about buildings.” His work is sensitive to art and ecology, and operates in a domain that Wines described as “high risk,” explaining that its indefinable character causes architecture to be threatened by it and art to lack an understanding of it.
The works of artist Dan Graham and artist and designer Vito Acconci similarly cross borders. Graham creates habitable spaces and employs materiality and texture to create detailed interiors. He believes that all artistic work should be quasi-functional, breaking out of the confines of a gallery and creating site-specific work that is both spatial and sensory. “Everything I’ve done has been a hybrid,” he said.
Acconci’s career, stemming from an interest in writing, integrates multi-disciplinary thought, from fashion to industrial design. Acconci’s revelation that art is a field without inherent characteristics allowed him to use other disciplines in his work. Throughout his career, he slowly removed both himself and the envelope in which he worked, allowing his art to create its own spatial definitions through public participation. “I don’t think I wanted viewers, I wanted inhabitants, participants. The thing that drew me to architecture and design is that you can deal with all the everyday occasions of everyday life,” he reflected.