No. 12 (2017): Issue No. 12, April 2017 - Topic of Issue: Architecture with(in) Art and Theory

On the cover: Irena Gajić, Paper Architecture

Looking back at high modernist art theories, we might recall Clement Greenberg’s well-known view that experience precedes theory. Apart from advocating certain formalist solutions as more acceptable than others, this claim also postulated a sort of model for making and observing art. Among Greenberg’s many, undoubtedly complex premises, there were two significant implications that – in terms of autonomy – defined poetic relations between different artistic disciplines and theoretical relations between art and society. When neo-avant-garde practices challenged this kind of modernist aesthetic hermeticism, it opened experimental and in-between space for work, while art retrieved – once again, after the historical avant-gardes – its ability to make critical commentary on the disciplinary conditions and society in general. As a result, medium-specific art was widely replaced by mixed-media art, which was welcomed and assimilated by postmodern pluralist theories.

The topic of this issue is to examine the role of architecture in this art-theory complex. The reference to Greenberg should be (just) a metaphor for a similar, but by no means identical process in architectural discourse. In architectural terms, this story goes something like this: in its (hermetic and, conditionally speaking, autonomous) domain of engineering, technology, and ergonomics, high-modernist architecture was largely disconnected from the other arts and theory. Still, some theories, such as rationalism, positivism, pragmatism, functionalism, and behaviorism appeared in architecture from time to time, and the formalist language of avant-garde abstraction remained. After decades spent in its modernist enclosure, the postmodern era saw the opening of architectural discourse to the contamination of art and theory. During the late 1960s and 1970s, the first wave of postmodernism introduced leftist strains from structuralism and phenomenology as a means of building a theory around a privileged architectural object. In the mid 1980s, the second wave of postmodernism showed a desire for artisticness in architectural practice, as well for sophisticated readings in theory. Literary genres (dirty realism and cyberpunk), sculpture in an expanded field (minimal art and land art), ambient art, performance and so on, became topics in architectural project, while the critical cutting edge of postmodern hermeneutics (weak thought) and poststructuralism (deconstruction) became embodied in the domain of interpreting architecture.

We were looking for papers that might theorize different historical and contemporary models of making and thinking architecture outside the framework of its own discipline, emphasizing interaction with the domains of other arts and theory, positing those interactions in a broader social context.

Guest Issue Editor: Vladimir Stevanović

On the cover: Irena Gajić, Paper Architecture
Published: 20.04.2017

Beyond the Main Topic