hejduk

apposing the shells of architectural thought

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What is so striking in comparing the animistic figures of the Berlin Masque (1983) with the revisionist Corbusian project (1968) is not only the new representational and associational explicitness of these objects, but their extreme opacity, in terms of both perception and meaning. Perhaps, it was this opacity that prompted Peter Eisenman to tell John Hejduk that his Berlin figures "are not architecture because you can't get in them." To which Hejduk replied "YOU can't get in them."25 Protecting the interior from physical, visual, and psychic penetration is a structural condition of the mask that serves to create the aura and mystery so important to Hejduk's safeguarding of the unknowable, the ostensible locale where essences reside. But Hejduk's reply to Eisenman may also signal the subterranean significance of another anti-mimetic discourse, that of empathy, which focuses on the ability of objects to stimulate feelings and on the transference of emotions into objects--projecting or feeling oneself into them rather than "understanding" them through theory.

7. Projection : Body and Feeling
At the same time that the stamped silhouetted figures of Hejduk's catalog recall the physiognomic studies of Lavater, and with them Ledoux's architectonic characters, they are perhaps more akin to the indeterminate woodcuts of Jugendstil and Expressionism, surrealist ink-blots, and caricatures. Where physiognomy sought to narrow the gap between form and immanent meaning, Hejduk's interweaving of form with narrative and program has been as carefully indeterminate and ambiguous as these early twentieth-century forms of expression. His object / subjects simply hint at the passage of thoughts and engage the viewer in an open state of reflection and reverie.

25. "Conversation between John Hejduk and David Shapiro: The Architect Who Drew Angels," Architecture and Urbanism 01, no. 244 (January 1991): 62.

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