Of the architecture without ideology? | Pedro Hernández

Vicente Serrano | abc.es
Vicente Serrano | abc.es

In 2011, Vicente Serrano publishes the book Spinoza’s wound, where it approaches, from the philosophy, the topic of the happiness. In the chapter v –Biopoder without ideologies– it exposes and analyzes how, actually, any way of being able tends to control, to order and articulate any thing that falls down under his influence. It is Highland what, using Nietzche’s words, it qualifies as will to be able: the ambition of every person for achieving his desires, even over other one or of the natural thing and that he denies the existence of any limit that should not be subordinated to this will.

The object of the power would not be another thing that the search for fulfilling this insatiable desire for appropriating of everything. On the other hand, the ideology is not so much that one that gives form to this power, but only it is a mere front: a group of signs and low symbols which it can, come the case, organize a set of persons.

In this frame, “the power stops being a visible and unidentifiable institution to turn into a fabric that generates fictions and establishes spaces” where his “last object is the life itself in his biological sense”. It exactly would explain how ideologies as different as the Nazism, the communism or the capitalism end up by exercising similar forms of repression – an aspect that has been analyzed widely in the 20th century in voices like Foucault, Agamben or Zizek.

Thinking now about architecture and taking so distant authors as modals in the time and the look as Victor Hugo, George Bataille or Reyner de Graaf –member of OMA who said in a recent text that the architecture only was a tool of the capital–, we can expose with certainty that architecture –that one realized by the architect, to less– is undissociable of the ways of being able, taking part directly of them. Also we might aim that his language –his way of expression– is linked always to certain meanings and symbols and, therefore, interlaced directly with some certain ideology, though it would not explain of clear form how, for example, the modern architecture Nazi took part both of dictatorships and of democracies or the famous clash of the pavilions –also seemed between yes– of the USSR and the Germany in the Universal Exhibition of Paris of 1937.

pabellones -también parecidos entre sí- de la URSS y la Alemania Nazi en la Exposición Universal de París de 1937.
Pavilions -also seemed between yes- of the Germany Nazi and the USSR in the Universal Exhibition of Paris of 1937.

Here I would like then to throw some questions: can architecture be thought beyond the ideological expression and be associated only with the idea itself of the will of being able? That is to say, does architecture exist without ideology? Provided that it turns out difficult to eliminate the idea itself of an action -a power, an architecture – without the existence of an ideology- for definition

Aquí me gustaría entonces lanzar algunas preguntas: ¿puede pensarse la arquitectura más allá de la expresión ideológica y estar únicamente asociada a la idea misma de la voluntad de poder? Es decir, ¿existe la arquitectura sin ideología? Dado que resulta difícil eliminar la idea misma de una acción -un poder, una arquitectura- sin la existencia de una ideología -por definición

“the set of ideas that characterize a person, school, collectivity, cultural, religious, political movement, etc.”-,

I would like to tint the previous questions. What I am interested is rather if we can or not to analyze the architectural fact out of his ideological question. If it was possible how would it be?

When I have dared to throw these questions always I have received an identical response:

“Not, it turns out impossible to think it without ideas or without ideologies”.

To rest on his response, some of my speakers have used a classic example: the architecture Nazi and, in I make concrete, the concentration camp as archetypal demonstrations of the architecture of the biopoder and manifestations of the national socialist ideology.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to do some precisions. The same Vicente Serrano appears, mentioning to Roberto Esposito, that

“the biopolitic is not a product of the Nazism”,

but rather

“the Nazism is a degenerate product of a certain form of biopolitic”.

That is to say, the biopolítica came first. Likewise, the ‘invention’ of the concentration camp is not given during the years that precede the Second World war, but his history can be planned already from the 18th century.

Being necessary more, what yes it appears during these years they are the fields of extermination, a few places where the biopolítica derives in necropolítica to give death to all those persons who were not entering inside the cánones imagined by Hitler. This way so the field of concentación is not a product of the Nazism, but this one appropriates it up to taking it to the end itself: the absolute control of the life and of the death. The concentration camp, so, is the result and the manifestation of the bipoder in general, not of the Nazism especially, and has his raison d’être –a reason, certainly, so based sometimes that scares– in the last management of each and every of the aspects of the life of those who occupy it –is not for it trivially that Giorgio Agamben imagines as the form of politics of the contemporaneousness.

Mujeres y niños Bóers en un campo de concentración británico hacia 1900, durante las Guerras de los Bóer. Fuente: Wikipedia
Women and children Bóers in a British concentration camp about 1900, during the Wars of the Bóer. Source: Wikipedia

Now then, the architecture Nazi yes can serve very well to enter a bit more the question of if architecture exists beyond the ideology. ‘Another’ architecture Nazi, used as tool for the diffusion of the regime, was imagined by Albert Speer and applauded and defended by the own Hitler. Speer conceived an architecture turned into ruin, inheritor of the empires Greek and Roman. The German dared to imagine – causing the panic between high agents chief executive – the end of the Third Reich, but, in exchange, it gave to him to the ’empire’ the possibility of become eternal1. For this Speer used of another characteristic: his designs it was only a scenery, pure front behind which there was nothing, exhibiting, this way, and to the perfection, the concepts expressed for Highland. Any ideology, any net ideological architecture, is pure front, mere theatre done to impress to the masses, behind which only there hides itself the misery itself that produces. Of there the massive expression of this architecture, of there his vision in ruin, of there his excess on a large scale, the use loaded with statues and symbols, which seek to relieve any lack of content. The power always conceals his shames after the lights of the advertising.

On the contrary, the concentration camp is thought unthinkable and imagines unimaginable. A debate that spreads during the whole second half of last century and that has rested often on the scanty number of photos that exist of places as Auschwitz-Birkenau in functioning, especially of his crematories, of which only they exist four photographies that Jean-Luc Godard said had been “extracted from the same hell” for “to save the honor of the royal thing”.

In such circumstances, of being able to be reduced to something -sew, in fact, difficultly- the concentration camp might be a terrible graph, the own one of a factory or a slaughter house: an access; a place where to divide suitable and not suitable men and women; a few basic big huts that try to act shamelessly as spaces where “to rest”, crowding bodies some against others; a few places where to give death. A scheme so cold that produces terror. The concentration camps are a manifestation -it carries to extremes if it is wanted- of that disciplinary company expressed by Michel Foucault.

It is necessary a sorrow to remember that the French thinker never imagined ‘an’ architecture -this is, one makes concrete or royal- but it was kept always in the line of the graph, in I make concrete of the panóptico imagined by Jeremy Betham.

A graph exposes the relations between the different parts or elements of a set or system. Following this definition, the architect Léopold Lambert in his text “Foucault and Architecture: The encounter that never was“, published in Castilian for the Chilean magazine SPAM_arq, also it exposes, from Michel Foucault’s writings, the use of the graph as form of expression of the power:

“Foucault reads this architecture (that of the panóptico) from a form of representation in two dimensions that it expresses several forces expressed by his lines (…) Foucault is not interested in the panóptico as a building but as the combination of lines of visibility that shapes relations of power between the individuals affected by these”.

If the graph is the expression of forces and tensions that expire or there are submitted the bodies that they it live, it happens to develop almost in terms maquínicos. The graph, Gilles Deleuze was appearing, there is

“the map, the cartography, coextensiva to the whole social field. It is an abstract machine. It is defined by functions and informal matters, ignores any distinction of form between a content and an expression, between a discursive formation and a not discursive formation. An almost mute and blind machine, though it makes see and makes speak”.

The ‘architecture without ideologies’ probably be exactly this one, that one which expression diminishes to the graph. Nevertheless, to the graph he lacks something, so it expresses the ideal situation of a few ideas or an event. In the graph everything is “abstracted of any obstacle, the resistance or friction”. He lacks the weight of the things, his resistance, his force, his determining ones, his circumstances, these moments of friction of that one that it does not work in agreement with the planned thing, that one that Clausewitz was naming

“the effect of the reality in the ideas “. The graph therefore is never sufficient. Lambert aims that ” the graph has no way of constituting a mechanism of power without his form of architectural accomplishment.”

Now then, liberated finally of his of the language or of the style, to think the architecture without ideologies leads us to seeing her as expression of forces and tensions between the bodies that occupy her and / or constitute it. It consists of seeing his frictions. There where it resists, there where it fails, his ideal graph. These points where is decided the repression or freedom of the bodies: doors, walls, windows … beyond his material expression or his language, extracting what it means as well as also his material capacities. To think the architecture without ideologies is to see her as a form of battle in which the bodies hit some against others: architecture like friction.

Protestas en Ucrania
Protestas en Ucrania

Pedro Hernández · architect
Ciudad de México. march 2016


1. “I exposed Hitler under the slightly pretentious title of “theory of the value as ruin” of a construction. His point of item was that the modern constructions were not very adapted to constitute the “bridge of tradition” towards future generations: it was turning out unimaginable that a few rusty rubbles were transmitting the heroic spirit of the monuments of the past. My ‘theory’ had for object solve this dilemma: the employment of special materials, as well as the consideration of certain structural specific laws, had to allow the building construction that, when they were coming to the decadence, after hundreds or thousands of years (this way we were calculating), they could make alike a bit his Roman models.” | Albert Speer, Memorias

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.

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