Critique and ideology | Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz

I do efforts for following the intention of moving away rather what happens in my country to finish a series of comments that it had come doing on the critique. And I speak about effort because the last things that have gone out to the light, which the Venezuelans already we knew and they expose in a more direct way a highly corrupt panorama, they do that to separate it of the look turns into a very difficult company. We make it nevertheless, not before wonder if it is a total blindness or simply bilge, opportunism or fear of losing a post, which does that some high civil servants of the Regime, between them colleagues who have enjoyed the Power, continue supporting a political mediocre and perverted project doing a senseless effort to conceal the immense dough of mediocrities, inconsistencies, assault to the public funds and shamelessness that characterizes it.

And I speak about effort because the last things that have gone out to the light, which the Venezuelans already we knew and they expose in a more direct way a highly corrupt panorama, they do that The lived separate it of her in the latter Venezuelan months it had interrupted the comments that I him dedicated to the critique and I still had for publishing a few notes dedicated to the inconvinient one and often baneful weight that the ideology like superstructure exercises in the critical vision of the architecture, weight that had consequences in the debate of the sixties of last century, when in certain Marxist sectors there was done the useless effort to clear to the exercise of the architecture of the ” artistic prejudices ” simultaneously that was turning to the technical aspects linked to the conception and production of the building into the fundamental reference to evaluate the relevancy of an architecture, of his value as result.

Angelus Novus, Paul Klee’s engraving, 31 x 24 cm., identical with 1920 | oscartenreiro.com

These notes are not but it, short reflections that do not aspire to another thing that to place our points of view brings over of the critical exercise. They do not try to be exhaustive and less still of academic range, but they fix with his parsimony the general tone of what I write here, inspired especially by a desire of communication that wants to be from accessible language to all, out of specialized pretensions.

But it is not only the ideological question but the very widespread attempt of doing of the critique something like branch of the philosophy, a luck of philosophy of the built-up environment, that I consider to be also an equivocal exercise that has served in the recent times to build architectural prestiges on very weak bases. I am afraid that he has contributed to it the proliferation of courses of post-degree and conferred a doctor’s degree on ” theory of the architecture “, way of thinking up that it wants to be a body of concepts that base the exercise of the architecture, without giving due reflection to the inability to elaborate theories on activities as ours, that though with important technical contents, it follows processes based on the intuition, on the managing of references from an enormous diversity of origins  (of the memory, of the personal experience, of the capacity of invention, of the jumps of genius very located and specifics but eventually present, of associations of images) that resist to the reasoning and do not fit in the world of the concepts.

To this intention of thinking the architecture I have been called her a critique filosofante and am persuaded, repeat, of that it has used as foundation to turn in figures of the architecture to personalities, and enclosedly buildings, which had deserved few attention in less attentive times to the “illustrated” deployments.

By virtue of some of the things that I have just said and of many others that I have expressed in texts that I want to publish opportunely, I have promoted the idea of going towards a way of exercising the critique of architecture analogous to the one that occupied place in times of the first modernity (up to the Second War and a bit later) when a thinkers’ handful of enough calibre, not salesmen of the publishing industry but of his own convictions and of his intellectual prestige, were accompanists of the attempts of change of the architects who were seeking to erode the academic thought and to realize a significant work in the middle of innumerable difficulties. They were times very loaded with the ideological – political controversy, but good part of these men of thought, they could be kept in a more autonomous intellectual space up to managing to promote an architecture which genuineness in terms of aesthetic values associated with the response to pressing problems of this historical time, is indisputable and the constructed examples hold to more than three quarters of century of distance, matter that it contrasts with the promotions of the most recent times, names that already they have forgotten and buildings destined to be simple vestiges of a more or less overcome memory.

I am not in any way seeking to revive old women sew but expressing an active dissent with regard to the form since it has gone being orientated to pass on architecture and the advertising of the manners of acting.

I call the attention nevertheless on two principal things: on the one hand the trend to focus the look exclusively on the world of the opulence (with crisis and without crisis) and his preferences. The architectures that we could call “substitute” of those of the world of the spectacle, which to tone with the economic crisis now want to be promoted, end up by being always those who “are” “chosen” from the same opulent world. There are extracted like by tweezers “young” values that are fitted without difficulties by the revisionist worries in vogue and one continues being far, very far, of the realities of the exercise in the fourth three parts of the world and especially of the interesting efforts, full of sense and undoubtedly valuable for the architectural scene, of many architects only known in his own means. ” Only known ” I say because inevitably the opulence knows only what expresses to itself inside the opulence, which demands certainly the language Englishman first and to be in a “emergent” country also first, being “emergent” one that does not have political warm and decadent problems but it is integrated, already, to the fluid exchange of an included economy.

And the second thing that I am interested in indicating concerns those who locally exercise the critique. Few ones, but – it is to it to what I want referirme – too shy as for his aptitude to understand better the environment in the one that unrolls the practice of the architecture of the companies in which they live. Interested parties seem sometimes in excess in bending to the manners of the opulence, with which they end up by despising or disdaining what ” the architects ” (these uncontrollable subjects and always problematic) of his own way do, considering them wrong or disoriented because they do not wear shoes in his schemes. And when it is not like that, at the time they affect ignorance, submerge for example in the academic world and try to fix his look in a past that generally offers fewer problems. They devote themselves then to value the already valued, the prestiges of the deceased who always win in consensus the alive ones, praise the founders, which in general are seen by benevolence and abstain from indicating carefully nothing precise towards whom they are as them fighting against a problematic present, trying to construct, languishing sometimes without relying on a support that it might open some doors.

I will return on this topic.

Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz, Architect
Venezuela, May 2013,
Entre lo Cierto y lo Verdadero

Óscar Tenreiro Degwitz

Es un arquitecto venezolano, nacido en 1939, Premio Nacional de Arquitectura de su país en 2002-2003, profesor de Diseño Arquitectónico por más de treinta años en la Universidad Central de Venezuela, quien paralelamente con su ejercicio ha mantenido ya por años presencia en la prensa de su país en un esfuerzo de comunicación hacia la gente en general de los puntos de vista del arquitecto acerca de los más diversos temas, entre los cuales figuran los agudos problemas políticos de una sociedad como la venezolana. Tenreiro practica así lo que el llama el “pensamiento desde y hacia la arquitectura”, insistiendo en que lo hace como arquitecto en ejercicio, para escapar de los estereotipos y cautelas propios de la “crítica arquitectónica”. Respecto a la cual no oculta su desconfianza, que explica recurriendo al aforismo de Nietzsche sobre el crítico de arte “que ve el arte desde cerca sin llegar a tocarlo nunca”.

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