?

Log in

No account? Create an account
click opera
February 2010
 
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
 
 
 
 
 
 
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 12:01 pm
No house is a hero to its cleaner

During the cultural revolution, Chairman Mao pretended to "let a hundred flowers bloom" -- only to use the resultant openness to find out exactly who his enemies were. I won't say yesterday's Flipwhack Metaloop poll was anything like that, but LiveJournal's extremely detailed feedback on who'd said what did tempt me to investigate the blogs of the critical minority who thought I was, for instance, relentlessly self-promoting. Would someone who thought I was self-promoting be promoting themselves on their blog? What kind of self-effacing culture would they be talking about?



I received a deliciously appropriate answer to that question from one Click Dissenter's blog -- a ringing endorsement of a documentary called Koolhaas Houselife, which looks at the Dutch architect's 1998 Bordeaux house not from the perspective of the owner (a disabled writer whose wheelchair necessitates the house's centrepiece, a vast hydraulic floor that rises and falls across acres of bookshelves like a cherry-picker) but of the housemaid, a plump and fussy cleaner who's far from impressed by the grey, cerebral minimalist slab. I rushed to download the film from my favourite clandestine server.

Now, I love films about architecture -- the kind featured on 0300TV, for instance, or the structuralist kind made by Heinz Emigholz. But Houselife is a step beyond -- or do I mean below? -- other films about architecture, because it concentrates not on the intellectual or utopian blah that characterises much architecture-talk, but on the daily task of vacuuming and dusting the house, catching the drips when it rains, and fixing the broken entry system. This is history written not by the winners but by the cleaners. As such, it's the perfect film for someone who wants to burst an intellectual's self-justifying bubble.



Houselife sees Koolhaas' building from the perspective of Guadalupe Acedo, the frank, no-nonsense maid, as she dusts and vacuums. We see not only the public areas, designed to impress with their originality, but also the maid's own quarters, a humdrum, cramped little flat in a hidden corner of the house, stuffed with depressingly standard equipment and fittings bought, no doubt, from a local branch of Darty. We also hear the maid's opinion of the house she looks after: she wouldn't have any house of her own that grey and that stark, she says. Just as no man is a hero to his wife, so no house is a hero to its cleaner.

The Houselife trailer contains nods to the utopian-dystopian tension in two famous films about architecture and technology, Tati's Mon Oncle and Kubrick's 2001. But the Bordeaux house can't help reminding us, also, of the writer's house in A Clockwork Orange, scene of a terrible rape. The writer in that film is, like the invisible owner of the Bordeaux house, confined to a wheelchair after one too many visits from Alex and his droogs. This misfortune somehow throws his utopian-modern house into much darker relief, giving the enviable setting a heavy dramatic irony. There are also shades of Dr Steven Hawking in the way technology here is an impressive -- but finally inadequate -- substitute for an able-bodiedness most of us take for granted.



Of course, theory trickles back into a film admirably void of it the way rain trickles into a dream house through cracks. It's easy, for instance, to see Houselife as an example of what Koolhaas himself has called post-occupancy design, which I've defined as "the stuff that happens to design after it’s left the designer’s workshop (and architecture after it’s left the studio)... the real test of its quality and character. Occupancy and use shouldn’t see the designer and the architect melting away. They should stick around, take notes, and take photos. The processes of time and decay can be beautiful. The way people use stuff and adapt it can be instructive."

In an interview on the Houselife DVD, Koolhaas himself tries to combat the maid's acerbic disrespect. Far from representing reality, Koolhaas says in this clip, the maid is a sort of ideologue, a Schweikian demagogue: "You see two systems colliding, the systems of the platonic conception of cleaning with the platonic conception of architecture. It's not necessarily daily life confronting an exceptional structure, it's two ideologies confronting each other."

I think he's right, but I can't help finding it satisfying to see an extraordinary building mopped down to size by a waddling, polka-dotted housemaid -- its nemesis, apotheosis, and household goddess. If Koolhaas represents the power of architecture, Acedo is a force of nature; you might as well try to resist the weather.

21CommentReply

zurcherart
zurcherart
zurcherart
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 11:16 am (UTC)

You have a better clandestine server than I do.

(And after this entry, I had to go back and answer your poll. Occasionally my answers might sound "negative", but you shoehorned me into those small categories of answers. Which was probably your point ... but that's what happened.)


ReplyThread

(Anonymous)
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 11:23 am (UTC)
so last year dude

yer slippin...but still cute....


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 11:55 am (UTC)
Re: so last year dude

If topicality were my only thing, today would have seen a eulogy to this guy, who stuck a needle in his arm and lives and breathes no more.



But that's the sum total of my thoughts on Dash: "He stuck a needle in his arm and lives and breathes no more". I need to have more thoughts about something before I want to write about it. And the Koolhaas film -- which I wasn't privileged to see at the Venice Architecture Biennial, as perhaps you were -- gave me more thoughts.


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 12:12 pm (UTC)
Re: dude's last year...

hmmm....sad...feel bad...for his daughter. truism perhaps - overdose follows relapse. oh i didn't see the film at the biennale. when in venice, i prefer to wander cemetery island picking wildflowers and reading rolfe....


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 12:14 pm (UTC)
Re: dude's last year...

THE BARON CORVO!

*high five*


ReplyThread Parent
petit_paradis
petit_paradis
erik
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 02:06 pm (UTC)
Re: dude's last year...

can you an entry about him?


ReplyThread Parent

(no subject) - (Anonymous)

(Anonymous)
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 03:27 pm (UTC)
Re: dude's last year...

yep


ReplyThread Parent
imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 03:58 pm (UTC)
Re: dude's last year...

Wait, are we talking about Rolfe or Snow? Maybe I could write an entry comparing the two! Latest in an ongoing series of unfair-but-telling snap comparisons or "false binaries", as the hataz like to call them!


ReplyThread Parent
petit_paradis
petit_paradis
erik
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC)
Re: dude's last year...

about rolfe

"how avoid a cliched death"

i want it on my desk tomorrow morning! I MEAN...YESTERDAY!


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 12:24 pm (UTC)
Snowfall

It's that 27 number again


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 02:59 pm (UTC)
Re: so last year dude

Why is this news?! There's nothing special about a Paris Hilton of the art world who leaves his artist wife for a model, then displays only weakness and selfishness by leaving his child without a father. If he wasn't a de Menil I don't think anyone would even think twice about it. A sad story, but it happens all the time to lots of people. Not only that but this plouk had all of the resources available to him that others do not to get over his addiction. Lame!


ReplyThread Parent
channingkennedy
Channing
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 02:33 pm (UTC)

So the building's given up on resisting the weather in all uses of the term? How... Taoist? Crappy? What's the word for expensive architecture with a leaky ceiling?


ReplyThread

(no subject) - (Anonymous)
imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC)

It would probably look like CBGBs backstage.


ReplyThread Parent
pay_option07
pay_option07
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
CBGBs

Maybe a local constabulary's drunk tank.

The video trailer has an interesting concept where the rubber meets the road. Not sure the sound track can justify it's comedic appearance as a wee Pythonesque.

Sorry to read about Dash that way. It would have been better if you reviewed one of his shows instead of posting an OD.



Curious about how cultural attitudes
exhibit themselves through labour.


ReplyThread Parent
dannyfloyd
dannyfloyd
___________Moments of perfect clarity
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)

I remember seeing the Houselife on an Architecture book.. many years ago.. was really impressed by it back then and even now too! like kubrick so much ahead of its time. Well thougth of Design vs. Usability.

Another worthy architecture film: MY ARCHITECT - A sons journey - About Louis Kahn

Okay enough of me bullshitting.. I need the film... where can I download it...


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 04:03 pm (UTC)

Ah yes, I've seen My Architect!

I've be sworn to masonic secrecy over my film source, sorry. Even if I could tell you its name, you wouldn't be able to join, I think they aren't accepting new members.


ReplyThread Parent
dannyfloyd
dannyfloyd
___________Moments of perfect clarity
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)

well i should have known that you've covered that and as well as everything else... haha

Its alright then... I'm considering buying the DVD too...


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Sat, Jul. 18th, 2009 10:00 am (UTC)

Why do you suggest it's ok to steal this film, Momus?


ReplyThread Parent
endoftheseason
endoftheseason
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 05:45 pm (UTC)
Becoming the devil

Momus, what are your thoughts on "body modification"?:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/5835529/Guard-swindled-cash-for-operations-to-turn-himself-into-the-devil.html

Have you ever considered a swindle to fund an operation to make yourself look like the devil?


ReplyThread
imomus
imomus
imomus
Wed, Jul. 15th, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Becoming the devil

I do it the cheap way:


ReplyThread Parent

(Anonymous)
Fri, Jul. 24th, 2009 02:58 am (UTC)
cheap wow gold

The latest installment of Walhtor of The Underbog's cheap wow gold (http://www.cheap-wow-gold.eu/buy-wow-goldeu.html) "Series of Embarassingly Avoidable Deaths" is available for purchase. Entitled Drowning in Shallow Water buy wow gold (http://www.cheap-wow-gold.eu/buy-wow-goldus.html), it features Walhtor's bloated, humiliated corpse drifting pathetically under the waves. It joins buy wow gold (http://www.wowmoney.eu/woweu.html) previous offerings Fell Off Teldrassil While Auto-Running, Accidentally Right-Clicked the Horde Flight Master,world of warcraft gold (http://www.wowmoney.eu/wowus.html) and Went AFK in Contested Territory and Was Slowly Beaten to Death by a Level 15.


ReplyThread