Shower Curtain Wall
Proposal: Installation / Performance
Shower Curtain Wall speculates on the cultural and disciplinary space between the shower
curtain and the curtain wall, and the oppositional spheres they
water in versus keeping it out, soft vs hard, private vs public, interior vs exterior, etc. This
phenomenal opposition between the surfaces has its parallel in the immaterial
domain of disciplinary (architecture) discourse, i.e. the degree to which they attract
scholarly investigation. Additionally,
this pairing of opposites 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,
wallowing away in the laxness of discursive obscurity. 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 proposal 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.
The project adapts performance to mediate binaries: the requirement for maintenance and cleaning shared by both surfaces plays out as a cleansing ritual, a performance of suggestive gestures. Conflating the public and domestic realm, this ritual extends beyond the cleansing of inanimate surfaces to engage the subject surface (the corpus) as is the case with the cleansing of oneself (showering). Staged in the interstitial space between the curtain wall and shower curtain, the ritual is refracted as a spectacle that coopts the curtain wall’s transparency in service of screening modes of occupancy that oscillate between the strange and the routine. In positing performance as a medium for the production of architecture, the project teases the disciplines' plasticity, extending the range of contents that perforate its discourse, while allowing others circulate out into a broader field of cultural consumption and evaluation.
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.