hejduk

2020
apposing the shells of architectural thought

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The Object/Subject is a pair of almost identical anthropomorphic constructions that enact a mating ritual. Each of the Object/Subject pair consists of a cube made of uniform smooth panels that are tautly bolted in place and supported on four posts with cross-bracing. The legs are just a little taller than the height of the cubic torso. Each of these two Object/Subjects has a communication disk on top and a side arm supporting a miniature version of itself with window/eyes and spiky ears. Where one figure has a single wedge-shaped projection on its "front" side, the other has two wedges that create a space perfectly formed to receive the wedge of the other figure. The two are positioned to suggest their intimate communication and immanent coupling.

It is significant that Hejduk's Object/Subject is not a single object, and does not serve to figure an organic resolution of the subject/object split. Instead, Hejduk presents the interplay of two objects that are almost interchangeable and potentially interlocked óneither is solely "the object" nor "the subject." In fact, each construction bears a double inscription as both object and subject, autonomous form and immanent spirit. In Hejduk's metaphorical terms, they may be considered to be inert matter shaped by the hand and then brought to life by The Breath of Bacchus :

Your Carrara lips part
inhaling softly a whisper
which disappears into the grey hollow
of a voided stone...
your creator made a miracle
through the surface
of his hands and wrists
he blew air into your
impenetrable white marble
producing the first
inanimate sigh
silencing all sound2

Hejduk's embodiment of the subject / object duality in gendered and spiritualized architectonic figures takes the ostensibly natural question of human dividedness out of the realm of philosophy (ontology and epistemology) and places it squarely into the world of human production and artifice. Here in the rich, fictive, cultural world, the question of human dividedness is continually renegotiated in the fabrication of tangible things, of artifice, rather than in abstract terms. "Art," Hejduk writes "Evening in Llano," "be it painting, literature, or architecture, is the remaining shell of thought. Actual thought is of no substance. We cannot actually see thought, we can see only its remains. Thought manifests itself by its shucking or shedding of itself; it is beyond its confinement."3

2. Ibid., frontispiece (unnumbered).
3. John Hejduk, "Evening in Liano," in Elizabeth Diller, Diane Lewis, and Kim Shkapich, eds., Education of an Architect (New York : Rizzoli International, 1988), 340-341.





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