Francois Roche was recently invited to give an exhibition and a lecture at Sci-Arc about R&Sie(n)‘s work, starting on April 6th. However he just canceled both of them and made public the reasons in an open letter which text is the following:
I have no other way than to cancel the Sci-Arc exhibition in the Gallery (scheduled in May 25) and the lecture (scheduled the April 6-2011)
The gap of point of view, and the lack of interest for politics and attitude, reducing the architecture process to a unique design agenda cannot fit with our scenario of production and scenario of speeches.
Our works and attitudes are toxic, animal, dangerous, regressive, politic and computational.
Architecture is mainly an affair of resistance and self-defense, against hypocrisies and “in”voluntary servitude, to quote La Boetie. It cannot be reduced to a design goal, exclusively dedicated and trapped by tooling. I disagree on the way the knowledge is framed by and for predictable professional, without any potential to corrupt and desalienate through educational procedures the “coming out” of neoplagiarism and neocopism, which remind me the Beaux Art symptom and syndrome. I ‘m French and know perfectly the stickiness of this sliperring addiction.
I just want to precise that this voluntary abandon, cannot be understood as a “tantrum or capriccio” against the Sci-arc students pool, but it is at the level of Sci-Arc staff arrogances and ignorances, which seems to shrink architecture purpose to a simple affair of design agenda.
F Roche /
PS Speaking and writing are done, here, in my Frenchglish dialect / I let you the opportunity to translate it in the Shakespeare “mayonnaise”.
Beside the pleasure I can have that my favorite architect is tackling one of my less favorite, Eric Owen Moss (see the article I wrote a bit more than one year ago about his abject aesthetization of the US/Mexico border), I think that it is rare enough to observe an ideological debate within the education system to look a little bit closer to the problem.
In fact, Sci-Arc does not seem to me as being more problematic than most of the mainstream schools of the world. It is even there than we had the delight to see one of the very most interesting projects of last year: Latent City by Yaohua Wang that I published a while ago. However, one has to recognize the two main issues enunciated by Francois Roche in his letter:
- the obsessive fetishism for the tool
- the constitution of a brand for each school (which ends up to be pretty similar to the others anyway) that can be reproduce year after year
The question then, is whether or not Architecture schools should be considered as speculative laboratories of ideas and techniques, or simply the place of transmission of knowledge from a generation to another in order for the latter to be apt to enter the market after its graduation.
One could obviously accuse me of caricaturing and polarizing the discourse, and that is true, but those two propositions constitute two horizons very different that schools have to choose without compromise.
It is thus probably time than the three bodies of the Universitarian structure take their responsabilities:
- The administrative staff (that Francois Roche blames here) should give up this “branding” of their school which make them certain to propose an attractive image to potential students who are far too much considered as clients, especially in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom in which schools are insanely expensive.
- The professors should give up this idea that teaching is only what makes them be sure to have a salary at the end of the month and to consider students like their employees who will anonymously provide the slides of their insipid lectures.
- The students (and they are those who I know the best) should give up their absolute need of paternalist structure that prevent them from being passionate and fully engaging in something that they might actually love. Their laziness is not characterized by their amount of hours of work but by their total absence of effort to propose an emancipated radicalism.
If these three conditions are established (especially the last one), then we could start to imagine a school of architecture in which a real political (in the true meaning of it) debate can be possible. I therefore invite everybody in schools to spread the word (this one and others) and to trigger meetings (if you have the dean with you, that’s great, if not, you don’t need his permission) about what should be the essence of your school.