BEATRIZ COLOMINA SEXUALITY AND SPACE PDF

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Colomina Beatriz - Sexuality and Space. Karen Cuak. Space Art -Congresses. Space Architecture -Congresses. Sexuality in art-Congresses. Colomina, Beatriz. Title: Sexuality and space. S8S48 '. It is interesting to note that the work of the many architects and scholars who have visited the School is generally well known, yet very little of what is actually seen and spoken here is recorded.

An awareness of this situation led to the decision last year to undertake a project to publish the full range of activities taking place at the School. This book is the first of a series, the Pri11cetoll Papers Architec- ture, which will chronicle the full range of activities at the School. The series will trace the issues being discussed at the School.

Our intentions arc to inspect the limits of architectural discourse, uncover hidden possibilities for better understanding of architec- ture and architects, and to document discussions and images gen- erally left out of the architectural mainstream.

If we are successful we will contribute to the widening of the architect's intellectual and artistic boundaries in the face of the particular cultural and environmental challenges facing us as we approach the turn of the century.

The sympo- sium was organized by Beatriz Colomina, Assistant Professor of Architecture, who is also the editor of this book.

The School is indebted to her for her extraordinary insight, the efforts put into organizing the symposium, and the editing of this book. It is most fitting that the symposium and the publication of this book have been sponsored by the Jean Labatut Memorial Fund and the Hobart Betts Publication Fund.

The late Professor Jean Labatut, often referred to as the "dean of teachers," initiated the cultural interests that have always pervaded the School, and the Betts family has consistently stood behind the School with their generous support and commitment to quality education.

This measure, which is based on the addition of the words sexual orientation to the university's Equal Opportunity Policy in , represents the first practical acknowledgment of lesbian and gay students. In a way, you could say that this is their first "admission," in the legal and spatial sense of the term-and admission is arguably the central function of any university.

It is significant that this admission occurred around the highly symbolic issue ofhousing. Deprived of the right to be housed, the students were not really "let in," "allowed entrance or access," or "made room for in an enclosed space," as the dictionary defines admission. Sexuality was, at least officially, left at the door.

But as the dictionary argues, admission is also a question of acknowledging, recognizing, accepting as valid. To be admitted is to be represented. And space is, after all, a form of representation. The politics of space are always sexual, even if space is central to the mechanisms of the erasure of sexuality. I have used the above event as an example not because it has any more to do with sexuality than anything else, but because the concern of this sym- posium was to identify precisely these kinds of close relationships between sexuality and space hidden within everyday practices, many of which appear to be concerned neither with space or sexuality.

In recent years much contemporary critical theory has been appropriated by architectural theorists. At the same time, a number ofleading critical theorists have focused on architecture. But in spite of the growing reciprocity in the exchange of ideas, the issue of sexuality remains a glaring absence.

All the different kinds of work on representation and desire developed over the last fifteen years by feminist theorists have been conspicuously ignored in architectural discourse and practice. This is obviously part of a more general repression of sexuality in most "critical" discourses, about which Meaghan Morris and Rosalyn Deutsche, among others, have recently written. The symposium "Sexuality and Space" was an attempt to address this absence, not simply by importing the work on sexuality into architectural discourse, but by setting up some kind of interdisciplinary exchange in which theories of sexuality are reread in architectural terms and architec- ture is reread in sexual terms.

The concern of the symposium was not with space as yet another symptom of sexuality, repressed or otherwise. It is not a question of looking at how sexuality acts itself out in space, but rather to ask: How is the question of space already inscribed in the question of sexuality? This formulation required that we abandon the traditional thought of architecture as object, a bounded entity addressed by an independent subject and experienced by a body.

Instead, architecture must be thought of as a system of representa- tion in the same way that we think of drawings, photographs, models, film, or television, not only because architecture is made available to us through these media but because the built object is itself a system of representation. Likewise, the body has to be understood as a political construct, a product of such systems of representation rather than the means by which we encounter them. To simply raise the question of" Sexuality and Space" is, there- fore, already to displace Architecture.

In the end, this book is but the documentation of a small event in the larger project of this displacement. Of course, the symposium and this publication would not have been possible without the support and labor of many people. I am very grateful to both Dean Robert Maxwell and his successor Dean Ralph Lerner for their enthusiastic endorsement. To Pat Morton, who assisted in the organization of the event as well as in the initial publication coordination.

To Phil Mariani, who edited the texts, and Lisa Simpson, who assumed responsibility for pro- duction of the book. To Silvia Kolbowski, who designed a memo- rable poster, and John Nichols, who printed it. To the students ofPrinceton University who offered their time. As Marx once quipped, "One does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself" There is not now nor has there ever been a metanarrative or a transcendental space.

Theory exists everywhere in a practical state. Ann Kaplan London: Verso, , pp. Sexuality and Space 2 SINCE MY ARGUMENT in this paper is marked by recent debates in Cultural Studies rather than Architecture-debates about the methods appropriate to studying popular culture, about the value of textual analysis and of basing generalizations on readings of local objects-I want to begin with a few rather abstract remarks in order to clarify the argument's structure.

My paper has three parts. The first is a brief discussion of two models of "the tower" as etaph01; one of which is corporate- populist, the other academic, and neither of which is grounded in a psychoanalytic discourse in any serious sense. Since I then go on to analyze two social spectacles involving actual towers, it would be easy to frame my material with a thcmatics of the gaze and thence, of surveillance. Instead, I'm going to be concerned with summits, points, and climaxes.

Next, the tower spectacles arc analyzed as efJellfs. The second and third parts of the paper concern two incidents that happened in downtown Sydney during the huge real estate boom of the late os. One was a "King Kong" theme promotion of some very expensive office space in a renovated building, and I analyze a comic that was part of the campaign. The other was a kind of criti- cal "stunt," in which a young man climbed the tallest building in the city, Sydney Tower a tourist-telecommunications tower which is around a thousand feet high while his friends filmed him doing it.

The video that resulted A Spire was later shown on national TV In spite of the popularity of references to King Kong in cultural production today, from cinema and homemade video to custom- ized postcards and fiction, I think that only the second of these events would qualify as "popular" culture in any of the currently accepted senses of that term, including the one that I prefer to usc, Michel de Certeau's notion of the popular as a dtls opcrcdi-a way of doing things characterized by an art of tiing, rather than by a topological relation to some other "zone" whether "high," or "elite," or "mass" of cultural space.

However I shall read both events, both moments of social climbing, as engaging two differ- ent concepts of simulation one deriving from Jean Baudrillard, the other from Gilles Deleuze -and thus as entailing different models of intellectual, though not necessarily "academic," prac- tice.

If this already sounds allegorical, I must admit straight away that it is. Allegory gives me a convenient way to use these two events to frame a critique of a narrowly etonyic argument quite prevalent in Cultural Studies today, whereby a singular form in the built environment "the" tower is taken, by a process of infla- tion and conflation, to be emblematic not only of a general condi- tion of culture a tendency in Baudrillard's work which has now been extensively criticized , but also of a historic intellectual "place" of enunciation-which "advanced" or "postmodern" the- ory today would then require that we renounce.

In relation to places and times, I should say here what I shall mean in this paper by "space. Reversing the customary assumption that "place" is a structured space, "space," says de Certeau, "is a practiced place. My interest in space emerges from a larger project about half a dozen spaces in the Australian tourist-consumption economy, spaces produced primarily, though not exclusively, by women's work and the practices of women's everyday lives Sydney Tower, three suburban shopping malls, a motel, a memorial park , studied over a ten-year period.

All subsequent page references appear in the text in parentheses, and this system of citation is used throughout the essay. Sexuality and Space 4 Part of my method is to refuse a morphological description of the sites of that economy "the" tower, "the" mall, "the" freeway in favor of a historical analysis attuned both to socioeconomic con- texts and to the individuating local intensities this tower, this mall that Deleuze and Guattari, adapting an old philosophical concept, call "haecceities.

In their work, a human face can, but certainly need not, entail "faciality," just as in psychoanalysis the penis can, usually does, but need not, represent the phallus. It is not even that of the white man: it is White Man himself, with his broad white cheeks and the black hole of his eyes. The face is the typical European, what Ezra Pound called the average sensual man Not a universal, but facies totitls iversi.

Jesus Christ superstar: he invented the facialization of the entire body and spread it everywhere the Passion of joan of Arc, in close-up. Thus the face is by nature an entirely specific idea, which did not preclude its acquiring and exercising the most general of functions: the function of Meaghan Morris 5 nism situated at the intersection of a semiotics of signifiance a para- noid, despotic regime of interpretation which is "never without a white wall upon which it inscribes its signs and redundancies" , and a semiotics of subjectification "never without a black hole in which it lodges its consciousness, passion and redundancies," a passional, or "monomaniac," authoritarian regime of prophecy It is all the more appropriate to refer the concept of faciality to a tourist-telecommunications monument like Sydney Tower in that the face has, "as a correlate of great importance," the formation of lm1dscape Tourist towers, with their revolving restaurants and observation decks, not only exist to create a landscape for consumption, but they also, in their role as "must-see" objects dominating the tourist city, help to "populate" with faces the landscape they create.

My purpose in using the concept of"face" is not to claim that it gives us a better way of thinking about the imperial economy of corporate architecture than do the psychoanalytic concepts com- monly used in contemporary theory. One could perhaps defend such a claim, especially given the difficulties of thinking sex with race and class in a psychoanalytic framework although in my view, the polemical address to psychoanalysis in their Anti-Oedipus should not lead us to ignore the way that Deleuze and Guattari's work often involves an irritably para-sitic use if psychoanalytic theory, rather than a simple opposition to it.

By say- ing this, I am affirming my own qualified commitment to the value of analyzing individuated "texts" in popular culture: prob- lems in doing so arise, it seems to me, not at the level of epistemol- ogy or of a conflict between aesthetic and sociological construc- tions of culture "text" versus "audience," for example , but as a function of the political issue of how and why we construct our contexts of reading, and the practices that ensue.

This leads me to my final introductory remark. In my own work in Cultural Studies, I do not find it useful to construct an unmediated mirror exchange between a given theoretical dis- course on the one hand, and an object or practice of popular cul- ture on the other "Here's a bit of A Thousand Plateaus, there's a building GEE WHiz! Just as I want to insist on a historical anal- ysis of tourist spaces, so I prefer to begin "in the middle" or "in the milieu," as Deleuze and Guattari say created by the popular the- ories developing about, and because of, tourist places.

This does not mean effacing my intellectual class position and identifying in fantasy with "the people. So I want to begin now with a quotation from a Sydney-based property developer, John Bond, who said, one day in , through clenched teeth on Sydney radio: The tower is all ego thi11g.

You do11'1 spwd a billio11 dollars ego. Meaghan Morris 7 Now, after avidly following the saga ofDonald Trump in New York, I have a suspicion that in spite of his pugnacious claim to be asserting one of the universals of capitalist common sense, John Bond was also expressing a profoundly unAmerican assumption. In a culturally comparable milieu of corporate USA, it seems almost to go without saying at least, it did in the late os that if you have a billion dollars to spend on ego, you do it in a very big way.

While this kind of casual comparison is certainly dubious cul- tural analysis, it does raise questions oflocal resonance-and this is my point. What is John Bond disavowing in Sydney, and why? What is at stake in his refusal to conflate a building form with a concept in pop psychology? One way of approaching these prob- lems is to interrogate a little more closely the terms of Bond's assertion.

My first question, however, is not "what is 'the tower,' if it isn't an ego thing?

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But this would presumably have been too literal a project for the theorists gathered. The approaches taken by the authors are also widely divergent. Yet most of the articles, despite their apparent divergence of subject, are united by theoretical protocols as well as by the central concern of the book as a whole, which is not eroticism but gender, and not architecture but space in a variety of manifestations, many of them historical. The main uniting factor is psychoanalytic theory. The material throughout is rich and detailed. Beatriz Colomina contributes an analysis of representations of house designs, particularly interiors, by Adolf Loos and Le Corbusier. She explores the way in which these houses are photographed, and some of the ideas informing them, drawing out the way in which these utopian, perfect rooms are—paradoxically—theatrical sets for dramas of domestic life.

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