Drumming about drumming



“The “silence” of Mies’s architecture has often been interpreted by historians and critics as reflecting and incorporating the uprooting nature of modernity while defining a critical distance from it.

He gathers a mob of writers who make this proposition about Mies: Tafuri, Cacciari, Hays, Mertins, Wallenstein. I find it completely implausible to see Mies as a critical, ironic or even subversive figure. What exactly is this ‘critical distance’ Mies maintains from modernity? Was Mies actually critical of modernity? I was reminded of this from Graham Harman:

“there are those who remain especially intrigued by artworks about art, films about filming, self-referential cabaret shows, fireworks that explode into shapes of themselves, dog biscuits in the form of dogs, and drummers who drum songs about drumming – a kind of ‘drumming at the limit.’ In each case, the supposed cleverness comes from the fact that the activity in question not only happens, but also refers to itself ‘as’ what it is. But this fashionable trend only represents the worst of metaphysics in the old-fashioned sense, since it declares self-reflexivity to be a privileged moment in the relation between the two faces of being” (p. 75).

Being critical is one possibility of architecture, but the attempt to make criticality the defining characteristic of architecture, as Aureli does, is just strange.



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