Patrik Schumacher on Art &/vs Architecture

Extract from Patrik Schumacher (Zaha Hadid Architects) recent argumentation published on Face Book that followed the release of Architecture Biennale program:

Once more on the distinction and relation between art and architecture:

Historically painting, sculpture and architecture were a continuous practice engaged in by the same protagonists (Michelangelo, Rafael, Bernini etc.) for a unified purpose. Why am I insisting on the sharp distinction of contemporary art and architecture? In order to allow us to see the radically new arena of discourse-practice that is contemporary art as an utterly boundless, freewheeling platform of experimentation outside of all immediate instrumentality and thus necessarily without any responsibility … contemporary art is pure provocation, stimulation, confronting this world with possible other worlds. Architecture – like many other instrumental practices (technology, communication design, filmmaking, advertising, political activism) – like art’s stimulation and instrumentalize it as elements in their respective practices. The most creative protagonists of these disciplines might even temporarily enter the art-arena to fund and show their experimental work in its early not yet functional state. Avant-garde architects do this too – e.g. we have done this via experimental installations, Marc Fornes is another of many examples, in fact nearly all avant-garde architects use the art world in this way. These works are art-works within the art-world as long as they lack instrumentality. These works are works of architecture within our discipline as long as they point beyond themselves towards an architectural performance (instrumentality). The orientation of the respective discourses (which only overlap in these artefacts themselves as points of reference) is very different, the communicative chains diverge, the respective criteria of success (of art and architecture) pull in diametrically opposed directions. Works of architecture aim towards a framing role in everyday life, facilitating social purposes that are set by architecture’s clients/users rather than by the architects. (There is the odd one out: the projects of Francois Roche – an artist who mistakes himself as architect – are art rather than architectural designs, they are entirely intended as provocative statements, meant to function as contrarian comments on the world or upon an urban or institutional reality rather than constructing or contributing to an everyday reality. … Its great, stimulating (art-)work !!!)

The framing communications that architects provide are attributed to the host institutions that invite participants into their spaces and not to the architects.
However, there can be a stimulating architecture inserted into everyday life that offers moments of provocation subverting habits of seeing, moving, living. However, these provocations/subversions can only be partial, subsidiary moments within the performance of these respective architectures. They operate as mutating moments within the ongoing everyday instrumentality of the architecture. (They too will/must be attributed to the host institution rather than to the architect.) Although it makes sense to talk here about an artistic moment or potential within architecture, this does not transform this piece of architecture into a piece of contemporary art. Deconstructivism was meant to operate like this. We could also talk about moments of mutation, perturbation leading to innovation … art is pure stimulation, “professional” perturbation … architecture is at its best as transmuted and appropriated everyday instrumentality … the protagonists are also very different, a totally different cast of characters: Damien Hirst vs Richard Rogers, Moriko Mori vs Kazuyo Sejima etc. etc. (.. and … just to test this with respect to my categorization of Francois Roche’s work: in which line up does Francois Roche fit? …

(Francois, I hope you don’t take offence at my reflections on you as a “category mistake” … your work, disciplinary position and persona are theoretically very intriguing, the exception that confirms the rule, the paradigm case or exemplar that allows the demarcation problem to be made concrete and could be discussed with a degree of specificy … but that would be another post.)

Patrik Schumacher, March 2014