Inside SCI-Arc

APRIL 2010

LECTURES: Wed, March 3, 2010

Raimund Abraham: The Profanation of Solitude

Wednesday, March 3, 7pm
W.M. Keck Lecture Hall

WATCH Raimund Abraham's last lecture >>

Eric Owen Moss introduction to Raimund Abraham's lecture at SCI-Arc on March 3, 2010. Abraham died hours later.

Ishmael's interrogatory to every reader of Moby Dick:
"Who ain't a slave? Tell me that."
"Who ain't a slave?"
Maybe Raimund Abraham.
Flying out is different than flying in.
Leaving what we know for what we don't.
Exchanging what we recognize for what we won't.
We know who we are because of where we are.
Take away the where, and who are we?
Maybe Raimund can tell us.
The city is a double map.
It's literal.
It's figurative.
A method for those who sign up.
A system for those who sign in.
But Raimund's not a signatory.
The city, any city, builds the culture's rules.
Raymond denies the culture rules.
We run in the city's streets.
We hide in the city's buildings.
Raymond runs, but he can't hide.
We know what happens to guys who draw their own maps:
Columbus, looking for India, lands in Cuba.
Raimund's his own map maker, landing in countries where no one else lives.
We're a world of affiliations.
We're a world of subscribers.
We're a world of allegiances.
Raimund doesn't affiliate,
Raimund won't subscribe,
Raimund's a man of non-allegiance.
Who we are is where we are:
City, neighborhood, street, home.
Thomas Wolf got it backwards:
we all go home again and again and again.
Except Raimund.
He's homeless.
Where we are is who we are:
The party says so;
The country says so;
Google says so....
Raimund says no to so.
Predictability and comfort:
We all fit....
We all fit.....
Raimund doesn't fit.
We have a past and a present and a future....
The internet says so.....
Raimund's not all over the Internet.
Categories, and frames of reference, and system definitions.....
Where do we fit the man who doesn't fit?
Or is it New York?
or Vienna?
or L.A.?
or Mexico City?
Maybe Cooper?
or Harvard?
or the Angevante?
or SCI-Arc?
My place?
Your place?
No place?
Here's the answer:
No permanent allegiances.
No enduring relationships.
No obligatory friends or enemies.
The Raimund model is kinetic.
No final stops.
No ultimate destinations.
Raimund is a concert with Raimund as the audience…
.....well, almost....
His compatriots?
Maybe Hejduck and Woods.
Adversaries? Maybe everyone else.
Plato, an architect by another name, taught us the form of the form never has a tangible shape … it can't be built....
Raimund Abraham's architecture is the Plato rejoinder: he argues, he can make the ethereal tangible -- the geometric ideal is constructible, he says....
James Joyce, Plato's collaborator, 2500 years later, up-dated Plato with the Stephen Deadelus rule: solitary, insular, independent:
no one
other than tools which are "forged in the smithy of your own soul"…
Raimund is the Platonic smithy.
I remember a number of years ago, architects at work on the Wagrammarstrasse, a social housing competition in Vienna.
Raimund Abraham was one of those architects.
At an important juncture in the discussion, the developer, Mr Spiegelfeld, delivered some banal critique of Raimund’s project; instantly Raimund was up, and out of the room.
Forever Hasta la vista.
An epiphany of the architect at work.
Please welcome Raimund Abraham, the Platonic smithy from everywhere, before he disappears out the door.......

About Raimund Abraham
Born on the 23rd of July 1933 between water and wine/
Water: inaccessable / mysterious / gravitational
Wine: open / reflective / weightless
Water / locus / mother (Lienz / East-Tyrol)
Wine / anti-locus / father (Girlan / South – Tyrol)

Most significant memory during childhood:
The entire sky covered by a metallic sheet of warplanes
(Later confirmed by Marinetti)
Later: merciless conqueror of the uppermost tree-line /
Even later: rock- obsesses wanderer of vertical space /

First sub- conscious lesson in Architecture:
Cracks / edges / chimeneys / overhangs / battling fear /
Presentiment of love for a tree-less desert landscape /
Dream of an infinite horizon

Everything else could be re-read in official curriculum vitae

ON ARCHITECTURE by Raimund Abraham

A drawing for me is a "model" that oscillates between the idea and the physical or built reality of architecture. It is not a step towards this reality and in this respect it is autonomous. However, for me there must be the anticipation of the physical reality and its commemoration of the idea. In this sense, an architectural drawing can never be rendered. On the contrary, it has to be constructed so that it reveals the idea of the syntactic form through the medium of lines. In much the same way it has to anticipate the sensuality of the material through the layering of colour.

More specifically, architecture can only be understood as a polarity between geometric and physiological space or as a collision between the ideal and matter, and while the ideal represents the notion of infinity or, let us say, the eternal, matter can be regarded as the symbolic representation of the body - its presence and its absence. To put it in other words, while man's conceptual powers aspire to the infinite, his body is essentially fragile, temporal, a corpus which will be laid waste, like material itself, by the unremitting action of time. If there remains any hope for recreating the iconic in the modern world, then surely this will only come from reinterpretation of the archetypal existence of man; that is to say, new icons cannot possibly be established on the basis of motifs drawn or transposed from the lost historical epochs. New icons will either come from recognition of our intrisic ontological limits or they will not arise at all.

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