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Art and Architecture: Critical Spatial Practice
I have been interested in generating new interdisciplinary knowledge and understandings through concepts and processes such as ‘critical spatial practice’ first introduced in my article ‘A Place Between Art, Architecture and Critical Theory’, Proceedings to Place and Location (Tallinn, Estonia, 2003), pp. 221-33 (published in English and Estonian) and later consolidated and developed in my book Art and Architecture (London: IB Tauris, 2006).The traditional boundaries between art and architecture are increasingly blurred in work that has been variouslydescribed as site-specific art, public art and urban intervention. In art, such work has been variously described as contextual practice, site-specific art, public art, and in architecture, as conceptual design and urban intervention. In my book Art and Architecture I coin the term 'critical spatial practice' to describe practices which intervene into sites in order to critique them. I visit works produced by galleries who operate ‘outside’ their physical limits, commissioning agencies and independent curators who support and develop ‘site-specific’ work and collaborative groups who produce various kinds of critical projects from performance art to urban design, asking crucial questions about the nature of public art and about the notion of ‘function’ in art and architecture. Looking back to precedents in land and community art, I discuss a wide range of artists including Andrea Zittel, Jeremy Deller, Anya Gallaccio and Jane Prophet and pioneering work by architects as varied as Lacaton + Vassal, Shigeru Ban and Sarah Wigglesworth. More than a survey, Art and Architecture draws on concepts from disciplines such as feminism, critical theory and cultural geography to explore the relationships between art, architecture, place, space and site. In the last ten years or so a number of academic disciplines have come together in debates concerning ‘the city’. These discussions around the urban condition have produced an interdisciplinary terrain of ‘spatial theory’ that has reformulated the ways in which space is understood and practiced. I draw on such influential spatial thinkers as Rosi Braidotti, Walter Benjamin, Michel de Certeau, Luce Irigaray, Doreen Massey and Edward Soja, as well as art critics such as Hal Foster, Suzi Gablick and Rosalyn Krauss, to provide starting points for considering the relationship between art and architecture with reference to several different theoretical themes such as ‘the expanded field’, ‘the dialectical image’ and ‘social sculpture’. The research demonstrates an original combination of art works, architectural projects and theoretical ideas. It maintains a rigour in its investigation of the relationship between concepts in spatial theory and works of spatial practice, and makes an original contribution to the field of public art criticism by defining a certain mode of practice as ‘critical spatial practice’. The research has been the topic of over 40 invited talks and papers (9 at international venues), 16 book chapters and essays, 2 refereed articles, and 2 keynote contributions, and translated into Estonian, Portugese and Spanish.
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