Letter to the Editor> Francois Roche responds to Patrik Schumacher’s reproach of the Chicago Architecture Biennial

Architecture Letter to the Editor Midwest
(Courtesy City of Chicago)

(Courtesy City of Chicago)

[Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email editor@archpaper.com]

The Architect’s Newspaper recently published an excerpt from Patrik Schumacher’s now-infamous Facebook post which he also sent to AN. In response, Thailand-based architect Francois Roche sent us the following letter from his Facebook page; an edited version was also posted on Dezeen.

For context, here is part of Schumacher’s text, and Roche’s unedited response. Read Schumacher’s full statement here.

“The State of the Art of Architecture” delivered by the Chicago Architecture Biennial Exhibition must leave lay-visitors bewildered by one overwhelming subliminal message: Contemporary architecture ceased to exist, the discipline’s guilt and bad conscience has sapped its vitality, driven it to self-annihilation and architects have now en masse dedicated themselves to doing good via basic social work. A less charitable interpretation sees the hijacking of the newly created Chicago Architecture Biennial by a marginal but academically entrenched ideological tendency within the discipline that has abandoned their societal remit of innovating the built environment at the world technological frontier and instead pours its allocated resources into concept-art style documentation and agitation of behalf of underdeveloped regions and milieu.
—Patrik Schumacher

From inside / a review far away from the Neo-Liberal Jealousy and last Übermensch libertarian Patrik Schumacher jiggering… this past week / but within the ideological and political Tabula rasa that operated on the situation / Chicago Cultural Center was (is) before everything a social center… the last homeless spot in downtown Chicago / With a tacitly organized passive violence, during the Biennial opening days only “members” with authorized badges were admitted / Rejecting the regular “trashy-freak” users / To quote Bourdieu … Taste is an affair of business, exclusion, and social class… contemporary museums widely betray the emancipating hypothesis of their origin and foundation / At the Biennial all architects were participating to this “hygienist” strategy / But the most absurd … was to listen to their speeches about bio-politics, greenish-color and bottom-up slummy romanticism, saving Willy and the world with Joseph Grima (the curator in charge of this specific Activism Carnival) on the throne of those selves-complaisance-indulgence… at the spot and the time where the Cultural-Social Center became “bunkerized.”

… Between Patrik and Zaha, who are ignoring with cynicism the workers’ dramatic condition of servitude in Abu Dhabi, and who participated to the biggest brainwashing enterprise of these past ten years: technologies as a strategy of ignorance-arrogance-positivism (pleonasm), and symmetrically the participants of this Biennial who “naively and innocently” excluded the damaged bodies and disordered minds, while wearing their black Penguin suits to moralistically enact political entertainment… WHO are the most criminal?

Simply the two faces of the same coin or bitcoin… feeding themselves as a reciprocity simulacrum, as Ping-Pong between the Cynical and the Clown… the history of intellectual Tabula rasa… of architecture discipline…

Could we find a crack between the techno-fetishism and at its opposite the techno-regression? It is so comfortable to choose one of these chapels… there are many advantages to reduce or to falsify consciousness and knowledge… Techno-sciences shouldn’t be an Object any more…. but a Subject that we have to re-appropriate in “democratic anthropo-technic” strategies…

Francois Roche

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