A Very Special Museum
Hubert Damish, "A Very Special Museum" in Skyline: The Narcissistic City (2001).
The fact that almost ten years later the exhibition "Manifeste," mounted by the Centre Pompidou to assess its own activity, included, in addition to many related drawings, some very beautiful working models by contemporary architects, and that at the same moment a gallery specializing in such objects opened in Paris, evidences an evolution consistent with the tendency I have been describing: that of an interrogation of what design-work--architecture as work--is, and what it might be. It is no longer a question merely of describing an opposition between the real practices of architects and a set of imaginary practices, but of understanding, by means of the museum, the nature of the relationship between conception and realization. To put this differently, using, with some hesitation, the language of "deconstruction": of using the museum to raise doubts about the supposed opposition between the art of building and building itself, between architecture and construction. And this, not to confuse the two or to reduce the one to the other, or even to suggest that the silent order of the built is superseded by a rhetorical order specific to architecture, but to improve our understanding of the nature, actual or potential (the latter being a persistent concern), with regard to architecture, of construction. As Philippe Boudon noted in the catalogue of the exhibition "Images et imaginaires d'architecture," there is a radical difference between an architectural drawing whose sole function is to communicate or represent, and an architectural drawingthat serves to advance the process of elaboration, and whose referent, while part of the developmental process, is nonetheless subject to specifically structural constraints insofar as it is meant to be "realizable.24 But the museum, by abstracting the objects it receives from their contexts and delivering them from their functions, weaves between them new relations, ones that have the advantage of displacing the questions of construction and realization, so as to inscribe them within another dimension, one that is more strictly historical.
The CCI collection includes a few fragments by Jean Preuvé that are essentially structural in nature, like those deemed appropriate for nineteenth-century museums. We might regard as symbolic the absence, the lack, of this great design, itself built around a central void, the tower's central core having been subdivided and relegated to the building's four corners. Inside-out architecture, if you will, like a good deal of earlier modern architecture, and, like it, of interest to readers of Borges. An architecture such as we might have hoped for had things played out differently, if not in the National Education Ministry, then in the new Bibliothéque Nationale de France. Reduced as we are, momentarily, to Babel, we can only reread "Aleph" and dream, if not of the library then at least of the museum now being planned, hoping that, like a painting produced in accordance with Delacroix's views, it will retain something of the freedom of its preparatory sketch.
Quondam © 2016.08.05