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The Architect with who I am honored to have an on-going and great friendship and who chose not to have his name disclosed is a professor of the history of architecture at a university in Eastern China. His other practice is, to borrow his own words, necronautical architecture, which he practices as a lead architect in the state-run Architecture and Design Institute in an Eastern Chinese city. The story with The Architect started on a day of no signicance. I was sipping my coffee and ipping through the daily newspaper. There was a piece of news with a government building as backdrop. It was a magnicent, larger-than-life building in European classical style. So pristine and untouchable in the mild daylight, it radiated a calmness by which I was hopelessly captivated. No, I was in a delirium, I was in a dj vu that I was somewhere else, I felt a comfortable warmth, and I wanted to laugh. The dj vu lasted two seconds, and soon after I realized I wanted to nd The Architect behind The Building. Weeks have gone by since this moment. The search turned out to be very complicated. For one thing, it is a government building and as such information about its architectural design is deemed irrelevant and not publicized. Furthermore, when I inquired about the architectural design at the information desk, the safety guards stopped me as they somehow decided I was intruding on state affairs. In the few architecture journal articles that I could nd a mention of this building it is attributed to the Architecture and Design Institute, and the architect as individual is not mentioned. I followed many architecture related accounts on Weibo (Chinas answer to Twitter). There, on one of those days, I stumbled upon a series of photographs of European court buildings, many of which seemed to have inspired the design. In a state of ecstasy, I examined all the entries of the blogger, and they suggested that he teaches at a renowned polytechnic university in the Eastern Chinese city. The class was halfway through when I nally located the classroom. A middleaged, very earnest-looking man in a black suit was lecturing. He was talking about Leon Battista Alberti and his On the Art of Building in Ten Books. No, to be precise, he was reading from it to the class. With ease and lightness, he enunciated through the pages, and it resonated in my mind: He must be of the greatest ability, the keenest enthusiasm, the highest learning, the widest experience, and above all, serious, of sound judgment and counsel, who would presume to call himself an architect. The greatest glory in the art of building is to have a good sense of what is appropriate. 1 Such a cultivated man is hard to come by in Chinese universities. As it was later revealed, The Architect was born into a modest family, both of his parents were high school teachers, both taught biology. He never took an interest in molecular structures but was keen on building bigger structures, and studied architecture rst in China, then in Europe. He traveled on student pilgrimage trips to all the revered sites of architectural history, ranging from the Roman Empire to postmodernism. Even now, he seeks every possibility to get in touch with the Western world.

I went up to talk to him after class, claiming I am interested in architecture theory. He seemed delighted and spoke with a light air that I should come to the class and discussions more. I couldnt put myself to asking the question directly, so I said, by way of a nicely dressed detour, that, Id like to discuss with him the whole business of Western inuence on Chinese contemporary culture, especially in the arts. I drew an allegory to the case of oil paintings produced in the village of Dafen, a village on the outskirts of Shenzhen in southern China, where over half of the worlds consumer oil paintings those sold in Walmarts or to hotel chains are produced by workers whose painting skills are honed in one-month crash courses. I kept seeking the nest trace of his reaction. Yet The Architect had a deadpan face. He handed me a piece of photocopied text from his briefcase, left me with his card, apologized that he had to run and dashed out. The text reads: [Benjamin] speaks about copies (repetitions) and their epistemological value. Benjamin comes to the conclusion that the copies of works by Mondrian are much more multi-layered and more complex with regard to its meanings, than the original. Through the process of copying, the original is not merely repeated; additionally, meanings are activated that, in the meantime, have been assigned to the original. In this way the copy becomes an immaterial palimpsest which accumulates all the other meanings that have been created including the idea of the copy itself. 2 After class the following week, he explained that this is a text about a certain Walter Benjamin who spoke about copied Mondrian oil paintings. This Benjamin is a contemporary artist who signs his exhibition pieces as Walter Benjamin. The Architect seemed to be in buoyant mood when I seemed confused and defeated by this complication of authorships.

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We were in a period of intensive email exchanges. I deliberately kept the conversation owing and refrained myself from asking him about the building that enchanted me. Our emails were lled with real quotes and ction, wry humor and dry intellect. In one of those days, The Architect showed me: The gure of Alberti, an attractive one for many reasons, exemplies the view of architecture in permanent reconstruction in the tenth and last book of his De re aedicatoria, that admirable treatise which, as Francoise Choay has written, celebrates time, bearing within it life and death, creation and destruction. It is difcult indeed to imagine a better description of this beautiful book than this reference to its celebration of time (Leon Battista calls it obstinate time that upsets things ), the treatises true protagonist. Alberti assures the reader that time conquers all things and that the batteries of old age are dangerous and very powerful; the body has no defense against the laws of Nature and must succumb to old age; some think even heaven is mortal, because they are a body. 3 Time, asserted The Architect, renders the ultimate destructive force and at the same time the greatest creative drive for his profession. We were sitting at The Architects home when we discussed this. The Architect was wearing a light grey suit, the kind that reminded me of the architect in The Matrix; his wine-colored framed glasses lend a playful look to his otherwise very sober face. The wrinkles around his eyes seem calculated and sculpted, or maybe they are digitally fabricated. He exclaimed, we live under the terrorism of time. There is not a second that we dont live under the dominance of time. The creative energy stored in-between this moment and the next, that some philosophers with all their good intentions phrase so well, is nowhere to be found; if they are to emerge, they are capitalized in the next instant. We work, we work out, we desire to work and gain more, we buy insurance so that we live for more time, or for being longer. He paused. Im sure it was my grim face that made him smile in almost a mocking way. In order to creatively be in the world, we must reinvent our relation to time. And thats why, he cleared his throat, Im erecting buildings after the originals. They are iterations that exist beyond this time, which lead to its demise, but that exist in all the other times. I expected myself to be at tears when learning from his own mouth that he is The Architect, that this is IT. But I was calm. I was exuberant with joy, and I kept on listening. Why have you not asked me why I call my discipline necronautical architecture? There are those folks of International Necronautical Society,4 who are keen on mapping the space of death, or becoming-death, or after-death. Bourriaud wrote a beautiful introduction for their recent publication: Forms have become ventriloquists. The emptiness that results from this that is, from the place once occupied by the enunciator who was rmly fettered to his tools of enunciation is now lled by a procession of ghosts. Although the past is past us, it returns ceaselessly, but in delirious shapes. Everything leads us to believe that our era is traversed by a multitude of spectral forms. 5 Now the good thing about necronautics, you see, he went on explaining, is the tending-toward-death part, which explains the thrill of seeing every single piece of great architecture the decadent ruins aside. The imminent danger they are exposed to makes up their beauty, so in a way, they are already specters in becoming, specters hovering

over themselves. Some of the necronautics are interested in, on a conceptual plane, how to die in more creative ways. Of course, they are in the end grounded in thinking in bodily and direct ways. Obviously, I care more about how the buildings live on in creative ways, and to certain degrees, live in another matrix of situations with their own specters. This is the very founding idea of my discipline. I asked, is there another way of escaping the regime of time? What about emerging actors in the eld, such as algorithmic architecture recently? I remember having read, algorithmic architecture may offer us the opportunity to discuss the nature of algorithmic objects beyond formal mathematical and physical models. It may contribute to unraveling the speculative reason of algorithms that may well overturn what is meant by the digital governance of space-time. 6 Blobjects, they are all blobjects. The Architect sighed. He seemed reluctant to talk. The visit ended there. For a while I was occupied with other things. I still thought fondly about my dj vu experience from time to time. Then one day, The Architect invited me to tour his buildings. It was a sunny day even though monsoon was approaching. His neat hair was glowing of sweat. I was secretly exhilarated. We approached the building from its front. The Building, in all its majesties, was showered in light, glowing, as if embodying a marble fairytale. Its presence is reminiscent of the great Palais de Justice in Brussels, only its juxtaposition with its immediate neighborhood of messy Shanghai makes The Building more outstanding. My footsteps became heavier as I advanced toward the staircase leading up to the portico, I was walking on the central axis of the building, the perfect symmetrical columns seemed to warp around me again in a symmetrical way as I was involuntarily led, almost sucked, into

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the gigantic iron door of the building. (The Architect would remark, the black hole and the white wall, as Deleuze and Guattari rightly suggested.) Isnt it amazing, I heard the voice of The Architect, that the building, despite its transient and accidental being, enjoys an extended life? But the really amazing thing is, he smiled, if you walk out from the other side of the building We hurried through a series of winded corridors and were in the sun again. Then I looked up at the rear side of the building and saw the same portico anked by columns and the main building behind it the backside of the building is identical to the front, it only varied in scale. It is the same marble fairytale. Time, I admit, is defeated in the moment I see this architecture. I was approaching history from both sides. Many months passed. As I was just about to publish this article, I chatted with The Architect again. Are you happy? I asked. Hmm, he uttered gravely, recently I have heard things from my Belgian friends about an architect who works in the eld of necronautical architecture, and perpetuates the eld in a very respectful and revolutionary way. 7 I sensed a certain degree of sourness. I asked what does this architect do. He is commissioned by a business tycoon to build the most marvelous house for his own afterlife. A house, so exquisite that no architect can ever conceive, that will ultimately be burnt to ashes at this mans memorial. Thus it gains eternity. This is a deed of truly high command.
Johannes Post

2013, Wikipedia-Eintrge, Johannes Post

20 21 Florian Slotawa Andere Rume, Ausstellungsansicht Arp Museum Rolandseck, November, 2012, Foto: Achim Kukulies, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, 2013 22 23 Suzanne van de Ven

C/ Aleschija Seibt

Performance im Rahmen von You Are Invited, Five in a row (11. Juni 2011) Aleschija Seibt, Foto: Jacob Birken
D/ Michael Schmitt

2010, Holzkohle, im Rahmen von Five in a

row (5. November 2010)

Michael Schmitt, Foto: Jacob Birken
E/ Maika Hassanbeik / Rodrigo Hernndez

Andy Kassier

2013, 3D Grafik, Andy Kassier

Germaine Kruip, Rehearsal, 2003. Foto: Nils Klinger, courtesy Kunsthalle Fridericianum Kassel. 24 25
Lina Sieckmann

donghee nam

2013, Fotografie gefalzt, 23,5 34 cm,

2013, donghee nam

Lina Sieckmann 9
Stefanie Pluta

10 11 Renate Buschmann Plakat zur Ausstellung in der Kunsthalle Dsseldorf 2007 12 13 Projekt Kaufhaus Joske Treppenhaus Projekt Kaufhaus Joske, 2009, Projekt Kaufhaus Joske, Foto: Frank Hhle 14 15 Lilian Haberer A/ Barry Le Va, Velocity Piece #2, 1970, aus: Christophe Cherix (Hrsg.): Barry Le Va. Fictional Excerpts, Interviews, Scrapbooks, Notes 1969 2003, Ausst.-Kat. Cabinet des Estampes, Genf, 2003 B/ Barry Le Va, Velocity Piece #2, 1970, aus: Ingrid Schaffner (Hrsg.): Barry Le Va. Accumulated Vision, Ausst.-Kat. ICA , Philadelphia 2005, S. 29 16 17
Miriam Gossing

2013, Fotografie, Stefanie Pluta

Mi You

Postscript I hereby would like to thank The Architect for generously allowing me to use his own photo document of his building to accompany this text.

Dario Mendez Acosta

Ausstellungsansicht Five in a row @deuxpiece Basel (2. Juni 2012) Maika Hassanbeik / Rodrigo Hernndez, Foto: Jacob Birken F/ Ausstellungsansicht Das Blut an meinen Hnden, Kunstverein Ludwigsburg Alexander Basile, Klrendes Gesprch, 2012. Mixed Media; Habib Asal: (Artist Ranking, 19.3.2013, 1.736 Knstler/innen von 300153), 2013, Pigmenttinte auf Wand Alexander Basile / Habib Asal, Foto: Jacob Birken G/ Ausstellungsansicht 17 8, Badischer Kunstverein Karlsruhe Arbeiten von Nelly Rempel, Kim Josef Stahl, Jrg Gelbke, Tim Bohlender (von vorne nach hinten) die Knstler_innen, Foto: Jacob Birken 36 37
Lea Letzel

2013, Text, 24 17 cm, Dario Mendez Acosta 28 31 Simultanhalle Strich und Faden A/ Barry Le Va, Velocity Piece #2, 1970, aus: Christophe Cherix (Hrsg.): Barry Le Va. B/ Barry Le Va, Velocity Piece #2, 1970, aus: Ingrid Schaffner (Hrsg.): Barry Le A/ Barry Le Va, Velocity Piece #2, 1970, aus: Christophe Cherix (Hrsg.): Barry Le Va. B/ Barry Le Va, Velocity Piece #2, 1970, 32 35 Kunstraum Morgenstrae
A/ Nele Grber & Julia Sinner

2010, Dokumentation der Performance, Lea Letzel in Zusammenarbeit mit Fabian

Offert 38 39
Katharina Klemm

1/ Leon Battista Alberti: From On the Art of Building

in Ten Books (1846). In: A. Krista Sykes (ed.): The Architecture Reader: Essentail Writings from Vitruvius to the Present. New York: George Braziller Publishers, 2007. 2 / Inke Arns: Mondrian 63 96. In: Inke Arns and Gabriele Horn (eds.): History Will Repeat Itself: Strategies of Re-enactment in Contemporary (Media) Art and Performance. Frankfurt am Main: Revolver, 2008. 3/ Luis Fernndez-Galiano: Fire and Memory: On Architecture and Energy. Trans. Luis, Cario, Gina, Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 2000, p. 92 3. 4/ See Tom McCarthy, Simon Critchley, et al.: The Mattering of Matter: Documents from the Archive of the

International Necronautical Society. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012. 5/ Nicolas Bourriaud: New Entry on Mediums, or Death by PDF: a Glossary of the Exploratory Zones of the INS . In: Tom McCarthy, Simon Critchley, et al.: The Mattering of Matter: Documents from the Archive of the International Necronautical Society. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012. 6/ Luciana Parisi: Algorithmic Architecture. In: Wiedemann and Zehle (eds.): Depletion Design: A Glossary of Network Ecologies. Institute of Network Cultures, Amsterdam: INC Publications, 2012. 7/ See the latest Iteration of Artist In Residence Project (, an art project by Katleen Vermeir and Ronny Heiremans.

Ausstellungsansicht Simultanhalle, Juni 2013, Katharina Klemm 40 44

Mi You

2013, Setzkasten, Mitgliedskarten,

Email, Fotografie, Miriam Gossing 18 19

Katharina Klemm + donghee nam

Performance im Rahmen von Five in a row (11. Juni 2011) Nele Grber, Julia Sinner, Foto: Jacob Birken
B/ Alexander Basile

2013, 2 C -Prints, 1 Text, The Architect

2012, Performance im Rahmen von Five in a

2013, Handzeichnung, DIN A4 , Katharina Klemm + donghee nam

row @deuxpiece Basel

Alexander Basile, Foto: Jacob Birken



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