hejduk

apposing the shells of architectural thought

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In recalling the influences on his student work in the period 1947-50, Hejduk lists an unexpectedly mixed, although for that period typical, constellation of figures: the tail end of the Bauhaus with Walter Gropius at Harvard, Josef Albers at Black Mountain, the Catalano-Caminos group under Henry Kamphofner, Oklahoma and Bruce Goff, Herb Green, Frank Lloyd Wright, Alvar Aalto, Paul Klee and, finally, Le Corbusier, to whose work he was initially opposed. "I was very anti-Corbusier. Very. I was empathetic to Wright, somewhat to Aalto." In contrast, his initial studies at The Cooper Union were less "structured," more emotionally based and intuitive. "The work was poured out, felt out. One sketched them out, drew them out, without a structural frame" (referring probably to the "structuring framework" of precedent rather than literally to a building structure).

While I do not intend to belabor these autobiographical statements, they do serve to reinforce what is evident in the work itself, namely that Hejduk has developed his architectural repertoire by working freely from the shells of architectural thoughts, absorbing and working through inherited paradigms of architecture, moving toward the articulation of formal concepts and modes of expression, which are then "poured out," "felt out," and "drawn out." What interests me about the more recent projects is the explicitness with which this process is itself represented formally and how this explicitness in the work is at odds with the conventional image of Hejduk's work as un-theoretical and even resistant to theory. My purpose is to thematize this embodied self-reflexivity about the medium of architecture, to draw out the implications of Hejduk's absorptive and poured-out practice. While an aura of mystery and poetics has been constructed around his work through careful appropriations and hybridixations that forget their source, it may be revealing to reconnect the formal devices that Hejduk has absorbed to the theories of representation and nonrepresentation that they were initially linked to. The implications of Hejduk's practice as exemplified in Vladivostok are, I believe, greatest with respect to his undeclared work on the structures or shells that mediate architecture as a mode of thought.

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