Shower Curtain Wall

            Proposal: Installation / Performance
            2020 - Ongoing

Shower Curtain Wall speculates on the cultural and disciplinary space between the shower curtain and the curtain wall, and the oppositional spheres they occupy: keeping water in versus keeping it out, soft vs hard, private vs public, interior vs exterior, etc. This opposition between the surfaces has its parallel in the domain of architecture discourse, i.e. the degree to which they attract scholarly investigation. Additionally, this pairing  illuminates the boundaries of the discipline, with the curtain wall firmly confined within its limits, and the shower curtain - with its quotidian associations, “a fleeting object of study”1 - at its fringes. In projecting modernist virtues of bureaucratic transparency via the material transparency of glass, the former attains the status of a disciplinary project, invariably becoming a tad too disciplined. If the identification of a medium is an act of institutional reification 2, then the curtain wall presents as modernism’s medium par excellence. The research culminates in an exhibition that stages a caress of opposites, of the shower curtain’s surface against that of the curtain wall. In seeking moments of approximation within a spectrum of institutionally assigned value, the project unpacks this messy notion of disciplinary proximity.

Surface Rituals

The project adapts performance to mediate oppositions: the requirement for maintenance and cleaning shared by both surfaces plays out as a cleansing ritual (performance). The ritual extends beyond the cleansing of inanimate surfaces and engages the subject surface (the corpus), an allusion to cleansing oneself (showering). Furthermore, this ritual cuts through the metaphysical realm of the discipline (its value assigning regimes) and the material space of the profession (with its maintenance policies). Intersecting the shower curtain and curtain wall, the ritual becomes refracted as a spectacle that coopts the curtain wall’s transparency in service of screening modes of occupancy that flicker between the strange and the routine.

1    Sylvia Lavin, “Critique passionnée or a folie à trois,” in Flash in the Pan (London:                         Architectural Association, 2014), 7.
2    Waled Beshty, “Aesthetics and Distribution Case (1): Preliminary Notes on Art’s Ability to       Radicalize Academia,” in 33 Texts: 93,614 Words: 581,035 Characters (Zurich : JRP | Ringier, 2016), 213.

Images: Elevation and axonometric fabric print studies depicting the curtail wall of the Pepsi-Cola Corporation World Headquarters by Natalie de Blois & Gordon Bunshaft of SOM.

The staging of the project is an attempt at mining ephemeral and immaterial outcomes of the caress. Via ornamentation and decorative patterning, the shower curtain retains filiations to a pre-modernity whose erasure supplanted the conception of the curtain wall. Albeit conflicting, this shared link to ornamentation (in both surfaces) is activated as an area for research that seeks to transpose the application of ornament between surfaces. Subsumed into the project as a readymade, the curtain wall (or storefront glass) engages the temporal contingencies of an event that entices its participation. Its rigidity dissolves to permit extant modes of disciplinarity and inquiry.