A short post over at Archinect seeks to start a dialog on the nature of architecture, the role of our trade magazines, and what role and place art exhibitions on architectural work should play… This article and topic was brought to my attention by a colleague up in Chicago, who also wrote about it here. The art exhibition which spurred this debate is called ASAP (Archive of Spacial Aesthetics and Praxis) and seeks to elevate the field of architecture through a conversation that’s not exactly about the buildings themselves (or at least, not exclusively about them.)
Please take a moment to read it, and more importantly, the dialog afterward. This is a relatively heated topic, with strong opinions on both sides, but I’d be interested in hearing what non-architects thoughts are on the subject.
Architecture, to me, is an art and more. It’s not merely a service, hence the bar for becoming a licensed professional is so high and takes as long as it does… With that said, architects need to work on how we’re perceived by the general public, in terms of what value we bring to society. Certainly we do bring things of an aesthetic value and stir up debate like other types of artists, but we also shelter and protect people and property. There isn’t, as far as I’m aware, another art field in which people’s lives are in the hands of the artist in such a literal way, and I fear that we do a historically bad job of reaching out to the rest of the public about the weight of that responsibility and the qualifications it entails.
I welcome the debate, but prefer the field of the built environment as the context for the discussion. When talking about our roles in regards to societal needs, ethics, ecology, et cetera… I find it difficult to take an architectural conversation seriously when the actual subject of the debate is not, in any direct way, related to the icons, images, or pieces included in the exhibition. That’s not to say that these artifacts aren’t related to architecture, they very clearly are, but they all seem abstracted or somehow separated from the art and science of building. With that said, I’d love the opportunity to see this exhibition in person. Who knows, maybe I’ll find myself in New York in the near future?
Thanks for reading. And in case you missed it, I was also given the recent opportunity to share a little bit over at Triangle Modernist Houses. (My short piece is directly under Chad Everhart’s.)
Great quote from Tina di Carlo showed up via the discussion post article:
I don’t advocate architecture as art … I advocate architecture and its value as part of a broader discourse, this doesn’t undermine traditional practices and it does seek to represent architects through the myriad media in which architecture is practiced. It also aims to expand architecture’s public which can — quite simply — bring work. ASAP advocates different positions within architecture, and it aims to produce as well as collect work. It is not a traditional storehouse, but an archive of practices. There can be nothing that speaks more strongly of the value of architecture as a discipline in this way. This was a position that is rooted in architecture’s own history by the way, from Miesian to MoMA. If you are going to take on a debate — which I don’t mind and in fact welcome — then at least practice responsible journalism and be sure you have a good understanding of the subject matter that you are covering.
The intention of the post was not to bash the exhibition at all, but ask a question that came up as a debate with a good friend. Still, the debate so far has been entertaining, if not productive.