Viewing room #02

05.08.14 – 23.08.14
Cape Town

Featured artists include:

Abrie Fourie
Kate Gottgens
Helen A Pritchard
Sandile Zulu

In a short essay published in July of 2008, Portuguese author Gonçalo M. Tavares writes that the architect searches for the beautiful and true sizes of things in relation to their highest degree. An architect cannot simply command the concrete value of the weight of things and distance between them (walls, voids, functions, ceilings, voids), but must know how to manipulate the materials of presentiment which are the root of the activity of the poet and artist. For Tavares, concrete material begins with measurement (man penetrates nature: attempts to dominate nature, the beast that surrounds culture, by way of numbers); the architect, in turn, must not only know how to manipulate concrete material, she must also know how to handle the materials of presentiment which emerge in the human world supported by instinct (instinct: the sudden forgetting of rationality – the beast infiltrating the human).
Seeing architecture goes beyond looking and perhaps admiring architecture as a science that occupies itself with the relationship between distances, scales, colours. To see architecture requires that we look at it as a moral endeavour, one that establishes a rapport with beauty and truth, but also, and ultimately, with justice. As Tavares writes, there are buildings that oblige one to bend, that force us to adopt a servile attitude, whilst others instil in us a sense of creativity and flight. There are places that beckon us, which we slip into almost effortlessly, and others that threaten, whose steps we climb or descend with dread.
Once we find ourselves within architecture’s walls, our perception changes yet again. We are at home, as Gaston Bachelard writes, when we find a protective space, a shelter that allows us to dream, or more importantly, to daydream. We are at home when we feel the psychic weight of a room and sense how it has been occupied. In the home, the psychoanalyst is able to perform a topoanalysis of our memories, locating the place where the unconscious has been fortuitously lodged, or more decisive to healing, indefinitely and roughly dislodged. In the home, we are able to construct and re-construct of reverie, but also those of fear.
Perhaps one can think architecture as oneirically complete or incomplete, of having or lacking cosmicity, of offering or denying that something Tavares calls presentiment…

Nancy Dantas

1 See Gonçalo, M. Tavares, Arquitectura Natureza e Amor, Lisbon: Dafne, 2008. All English translations from the Portuguese the author’s own.
2 Idem, p. 5.
3 See Gaston Bachelard, “The house. From cellar to garret. The significance of the hut” in The Poetics of Space, Boston: Beacon Press, 1994.