In a recent conversation with Xxxxxxx Xxxxxx in SOMA,, she asked me to explain, in synthesis, which it was doing at the moment of facing the accomplishment of a (artistic) project “as if he was saying it to a taxi driver”, in order to place in an exercise of being able to report (me) in a little time to someone who did not know me you are welcome. Though I hesitated in my response and it was something intricate it might summarize in:
“I am an architect, who neither constructs, he is not even interested, that in addition writes (and it does photos) but that does not consider writer (not even photographer).”
The response contains several denials that I am not going to develop much any more. Followed by it I told him my work, the first one that I did where I drifted apart from the practice of the architecture that had had till then. In I make concrete I taught a few accounts to him photographies that form a part of the series 1Kilómetro. I spoke to him about the importance that he supposed for my that exercise, not only because it was bringing with it this first moment of denial (of constructing) but also it was enclosing an impossibility that, as architect, had to be able to act there, giving place to what already I have mentioned: a capture of distance.
Distance with regard to several things: to the architecture – both material and professional – to the landscape, to the laws, etc. It is not chance that, in my capture of distance, was choosing the photography – documentary – and the text as principal tools. One, was allowing myself to return to look, across the interposition of a filter (the chamber) that was serving in addition to frame what it saw. For against, the text was helping myself to think, to verbalize. That is to say, it was helping him give a language, putting name in order to produce an offer that “was not diminishing to the critical analysis of a local reality, but it establishes a categorization of the possible actions, orientated to the manufacture of a set of instruments who wants to be disciplined skilfully to interpret and to operate in fragile contexts as this”. This is, it was an exercise that it was not limiting itself to documenting but to establishing a theory in if same. Two actions: to look to think, that they opened me many of the worries that I realize now: the investigation, the writing, etc.
It is evident that this approximation supposed a connection with the world of the academy, with his pros and his cons, which I take to a question on the part of Xxxxxxx Xxxxxx. She, more illustrated in the field of the art, was putting openly in doubt that the academy is a route to make a project “public”, of communicating it. In fact, and returning to 1Kilómetro, it was asking and insisting why I had decided to support the such distance that was not managing to begin contact, for example, with the neighbors of the housings (thing that, thoughtfull good, seems to me to be debatable, but I will enter it hereinafter), to what it added that it belonged “very to architect it of not speaking with the people”.
I am not going to begin to value the image that has of my profession that, as any topic, he guards something indeed (gained pulse), but that, as any topic, is of limited vision. If to this we add his question of the academy – where it seemed inscribirme – for his lack of action, we have that the problem was diminishing to the topic of the distance. For her, as architect or since out what it was doing (to write, to come out in photographs, etc), I was too far.
It is curious as, after the conversation or for the conversation, I have been thinking several texts that they speak about this notion of distancing. I copy later some fragments, not directly connected completely between yes or with I it want to say, but interesting to rest:
“When the Germans already it had lost the war and the concentration camps it had been liberated, the Allies photographed and filmed the fields with the survivors and the fingerprints that were indicating the death of million persons. The most striking images were those of the batteries of shoes, the spectacles, the dental protheses and the mountains of hair. Probably images should exist to the distance, in order that the unimaginable thing can be included. (Harun Farocki, To distrust the images)
The distance is equivalent to separation, to establish an emptiness that prevents the contact, the implication and the commitment. (…) The withdrawal minimizes the options of configuration (setting, point of view, etc.) on having devalued the eventual digest of decisions adopted as the operator; and, on the other hand, the withdrawal assures a flatter image in which the photographer does not feel obliged to emphasize anything. In the accomplishment of the authentic document, since a photocopy does, it would be absurd to try to highlight a fragment on other one. (Joan Fontcuberta, Pandora’s chamber)
In any theoretical passion there is something of wonder and strangeness: to see something since before had not been seen. It is a matter of taking distance, of estimate the distant thing even at the cost of the nearby thing (…) those who try to do theories on what they have to hand, they do not do any more that “to remove to his object of the daily familiarity, pushing to a distance where it turns out to be so strange as the stars ”. (Alejandro Hernández Gálvez, Parasols, hats, shades)”
Three texts, each one to his way, they speak of taking just distance from which to see the things. Not closely together, “in order that the unimaginable thing could be understood”, not very far, where the things get lost between the noise. They embrace the idea that to think, one must move away knowing that it can get lost in the theory, in the pure vision or in the mere documentation.
To take distance, in those days, was at the time my necessary exercise. To see the things from one out (of the space and the time) from the one that as architect was “forced” to locate me. I renounced, moving away, of the architecture; in the process I found more comfortable – too probably? – it is this comfort – this withdrawal – something that allows to act or is only a way of being kept in the margin, in the periphery of the conflict? Is my distance too much near the theory?, can it be the theory a practice in yes same? Xxxxxxx Xxxxxx would reproach me, since I have said, that should not position me together with any neighbor, almost as if it had seen that they were most abandoned of this situation, and his practice in that zone was an exercise of resistance opposite to a powerful State that only wanted to expel them under the Law of Coasts. But what she did not notice or I could not make him know well it is that nobody was “innocent” in that situation; that they all had his own – and egoists – reasons to be kept there and that at what I was looking they were not only a few exercises of resistance (local or state) for controlling the space but the incongruity between what he says the plane, it that the architect would do, and the material reality that existed there, denouncing, not only that the architect was not, but it did not have anything to say in that place, because his work was the base itself of the conflict.
It was necessary to be kept out to be able to denounce everything – and to all – without being “bound to emphasize nothing” not to nobody. It was a question of establishing a critical look that it was establishing which were the reasons and consequences that he had constructed there “my profession”. But I did not limit myself to looking, also I experienced the place of daily form: it was going there every week, was crossing it, was living, was suffering and enjoying, always from a distance that was allowing me to observe, to write and to think the sufficient thing – or this way I believed. It was, basically, an exercise of approximation and distancing: I was coming closer the place and was moving away, at the same time, from the architect who had to be. Definitively, I was moving away from the design (that was not going to save anything), but probably, in the process, since it was aiming At Xxxxxxx Xxxxxx, I turned into “documentary maker or academician”, limiting myself to describing only.
A position that, under my own experience, seems to be marginal for many members of the art: her come too much removed from any royal possibility, as if the art (that would be understood as action) was not removing not well at all with the academic thing: stopping to guess that thought and action, though they are not faced, are two phenomena too much removed between them: the theory, they seem to demonstrate, it is lacking in practice. Feeling at that Alejandro Hernández aims in his text: “The theory [the description] it it seems to be constituted the description as such on having separated of the practice, on having taken distance “; but, in this process of withdrawal, the theory “establishes his own practices”.
Would the theory, the withdrawal, the description, the pure vision, the documentation, be forms at the time of action?
Pedro Hernández · architect
ciudad de méxico. february 2014
Soy arquitecto por la Universidad de Alicante, pero mi interés sobre esta disciplina se encuentra alejado de su papel tradicional de diseño de espacios. Más bien, me interesa entender cómo las representaciones de la arquitectura, el paisaje, el diseño o el territorio construyen y materializan determinados discursos ideológicos, imponiendo posturas, subjetividades y formas de acción sobre los cuerpos que la habitan.
En mi trabajo edito estos discursos –sus imágenes, sus historias o sus restos materiales– y reelaboro comentarios críticos que ponen en evidencia sus controversias y contradicciones, formalizándolos en diversos formatos como textos, fotografías, vídeos, objetos o instalaciones, muchas veces entrecruzados entre sí.
He publicado artículos y ensayos en diversos medios de Estados Unidos, Italia, Croacia, España, Chile y México. Desde enero de 2013-2018 residí en la Ciudad de México donde trabajaba como coordinador de contenidos en Arquine. Actualmente resido en Madrid.