"It’s like a jungle sometimes"
”Yes, I’ve had a facelift, but who hasn’t?”, 9 April 2017, Rudolph Schindler’s Bethlehem Baptist Church, Los Angeles.
According to Ruskin and his “Romantic Restoration”, restoration is an immoral and violent act. In complete opposition with the French Viollet-le-Duc, restoration must conserve the existent, aiming for the maintenance. Ruskin’s theory was surely influenced by his attraction for the ruins decay, exactly in line with the romantic thinking. One of the greatest estimators of the ruin was Piranesi with his famous engravings illustrating the decomposing architectures of the Roman countryside. Those ruins were represented as magnificent. Ruskin gave life to a new school of restoration: instead of intervening with “cosmetic surgery” on the architectural body, the goal is embalming. The aging building is stopped, hibernated, ready to become a perpetual ruin. If we compare the cosmetic surgery with the architectural restoration, we understand that the first one, in many occasions, instead of preserving the body, aims to adapt it to the context and its aesthetical canons. According to Ruskin’s idea and to the following Boito’s Charter of Restoration, if the building presents additions, these must remain and be conserved throughout history. If we look at the pictures narrating the evolution of Schindler’s Church during the years, the presence of many graffitis on its facade captured our attention. Graffitis are a frequent element of a “decadent neighborhood,” as it is South Central or Compton, and of the hip-hop culture that has fulfilled Los Angeles in the last decades. According to the theory of conservation, who allows us to cancel those signs, typical of the culture of those who live there? Why don’t we evaluate this stratification? If cosmetic surgery means to adapt our body to particular canons, isn’t the presence of graffiti a form of expression of the change of Compton? Isn’t that a real form of cosmetic surgery? Provocatively, the project we would like to present re-elaborates some of the graffitis present before the renovation of the building, thus taking them back on the facades. In this way, we would like to reflect critically on what today means to restore and conserve the architectural body, and on the paradox of deleting the time a building had lived. These elements will be transfigured and re-elaborated through different materials (golden plate, mirrors, hologram film, fake fur). In this way, we would create a strong juxtaposition with the delicate and gentle signs of Robert Barry’s intervention. What makes the interior intervention “art”, and the external graffiti “vandalism”? If architecture only survives where it negates the form that society expects of it,” the violence of the graffitis on the facade represent “the negation of society itself by transgressing the limits that history has set for it? The work wants to be a praise of the ruin. of its eternal beauty and of the marks of time as a form of resistance against the continuous and contemporary aesthetic mania.
Curated by 501(c)3 Foundation (Shyan Rahimi), Jessica Kwok and Adjustments Agency.
Artists: Alison Rose Jefferson, Amanda Williams, Andreas Angelidakis, Andrés Jaque, ÅYR, Colleen Tuite, Juanito Olivarria, Julia Tcharfas + Tim Ivison, Marcelo López-Dinardi, Matthew Doyle, Nick Poe, Olivia Erlanger, OOIEE / Matt Olson, Parasite 2.0, Sam Stewart, Sasha Marie Tillman + Paul Krist, Sean Raspet, SSTMRT.