hejduk

apposing the shells of architectural thought

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If we focus on the corporeal presence that Hejduk gives to his troupe of institutions, personalities, and urban forms--such as Senate/Council, Cultural Center, Mayor/Cardinal, and Typical Street--it is possible to discern the existence of a second troupe, an extensive repertoire of architectonic types, elements, and devices that are immensely powerful in their own right. In designing these figures, Hejduk mobilizes architecture as a medium in a way that draws on two practices that have been opposed over the past two hundred years: allegory and expression. If the Clock/Collapse of Time signals the folding together of cyclical and linear time into a state of timelessness, then Hejduk's conception of the medium of architecture likewise folds together devices associated with representational theories of architecture, such as mimesis (imitation), and tactics that were developed as architects sought to step outside of representation and memory. Hejduk's work revisits modern architecture's problematic relationship to mimesis, which, since the collapse of confidence in classicist representation during the eighteenth century, has haunted the discipline and confused its social role. Hejduk's work negotiates a recuperation of representation by absorbing the results of anti-mimetic research about the nature of architecture and of perception into the representational devices of type, memory, body, and image, thereby collapsing into a revitalized theatricality two centuries of effort aimed at transparency of "form" and "expression." Hejduk passes techniques once considered transparent to meaning back into the opacity of the mask: these shells are capable of evoking in ways that are both direct and indirect, that engage conventions and associations as well as the perceptual apparatus of the body.

Be they animistic, anthropomorphic, or architectonic, Hejduk's troupe of Object/Subjects is composed largely of archetypal forms--variations on house, tower, block, slab, theater, gate, pavilion, garden, labyrinth, street, square, bridge, machine, and sphinx. While this list goes well beyond Quatremère de Quincy's originary types for architecture--the hut, the cave, and the tent--Quatremère's meaning of type as "the root of" or "preexistent germ" has implicitly been reactivated, along with its role in a theory of imitation, not as the naturalistic presentation of reality, but as "a necessary fiction that supplies its place."4 But where Quatremère invokes the idea of type to buttress the waning authority of classicism, it is precisely such authority that Hejduk's work renders problematic. Quatremère's pleasure in evoking the originary type is displaced by Hejduk's melancholy about institutionalization. Hejduk's depiction of the originary within modernity is acutely critical and works to unlock the violence and repression ordinarily suppressed by modern social institutions--Ministries, Museums, Cemeteries, Guards--and disciplined by architecture. Hejduk's mimesis does not refer to ideal types but rather seeks to illuminate and consequently redeem the types that govern ordinary life. The melancholy of his objects arises from the tension of working within the historical and material reality of modern life to bring out the repressed and the redeeming in the same transformative movement.

4. Quatremère de Quincy, An Essay on the Nature, the End, and the Means of Imitation in the Fine Arts, J.C. Kent, trans. (London: 1837; reprint New York : Garland, 1979). See also Quatremère de Quincy, "Extracts from the Encyclopédie Méthodique. Architecture," in 9H no. 7 (1985).

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