The (Dis)enchanted Subject of Architecture – Part 1

Lecture date: 2016-11-22

Organised by Douglas Spencer & Nadir Lahiri

The (Dis)enchanted Subject of Architecture: Between Neoliberalism and Neobaroque

Contemporary architecture stages the re-enchantment of the subject. Its recent turns toward the charms of the market, self-organization, complexity, and affect seek to discredit and devalue the radical act of disenchantment achieved by critical thought. In place of reason we are supposed to be dazzled by the new phantasmagoria, to ditch our critical faculties so as to enjoy the sensory pleasures of formal innovation and environmental immersion. Two recent publications, Nadir Lahiji’s Adventures with the Theory of the Baroque and French Philosophy and Douglas Spencer’s The Architecture of Neoliberalism, each analyse and challenge this scenario. Addressing the conception and experience of architecture from the perspective of subjectivity, Lahiji and Spencer revive the supposedly outmoded concepts of power and ideology in order to critique Neobaroque and neoliberal practices in architecture. Addressing, in particular, the instrumentalization of philosophy to valorize these practices, they also seek out ways in which critical theory and philosophy might instead be recovered in order to contest them.

To mark the publication of these titles, Lahiji and Spencer invite others, from within and outside of the discipline of architecture, to join them in this symposium to further explore and develop their concerns and arguments. Addressing radical philosophies of the subject, architecture’s fetishization of circulation, critiques of autonomy, the politics of affect, the thought of Badiou, Tafuri, Lacan, Kracauer, Benjamin and Adorno, and other themes, this event seeks out ways to conceive of and critique the politics of a turn in architecture that supposes itself to have transcended such concerns.

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