On Track: Walead Beshty and Marrikka Trotter (February 19, 2020)



Marrikka Trotter begins the conversation by asking Walead Beshty his impressions, after teaching last term, of the role of art at SCI-Arc. Beshty describes his professional jealousy of the immediate, concrete political stakes of constructing a built environment. Trotter in turn describes architecture’s jealousy of art’s freedom from programs and clients, and the way that a proposal may constitute the work. This leads to a debate about the boundaries, contexts, and networks that structure both art and architecture. Where Beshty pursues art as a porous kind of discourse, rejecting the way the term ‘art’ “creates a moat around the object,” Trotter argues that architecture and architectural discourse necessarily construct boundaries, marking out different spaces to resist “the entropic homogenization that seems to be the default mode of the status quo.” Regarding the cultural fantasy of ‘the artist’ and ‘the architect,’ Beshty comments, “The more rarified the field, the more deviation is acceptable—because the stakes are lower.” They both critique explicitly politicized art and architecture as inherently compromised. Beshty proposes transparency as his goal, rather than disruption or demystification. They debate the connection between opacity and power. They conclude with a discussion of public discourse and the shop talk of experts.

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