“At the end of dualism: Architecture as the medium?.”


Does it only help to accept the inevitable? Which role plays architecture in the regard of art, after the fall of its liaison became obvious. Fareed Armaly gives an answer. Following the strategies developed by Dan Graham and Michael Asher, Armaly transforms the artistically-conceptual instrument of the predecessor generation. Although his occupation with architecture also revolves around the critics of the ideology of buildings and institutions, he is not articulating his critic as inflexibly direct as Asher, nor does he use the way of writing essays with the hypothesis as Graham. Armaly’s exhibitions Orphée 1990 (M.C.C. Saint-Etienne, 1990), Contact (Galerie Nagel, Cologne, 1992), Brea-kd-own (Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussel, 1993) are showing more of an interest in how situations of cultural mediation cumulate. The locally specific intervention appears at the same time as a construction and reconstruction. The theoretical-aesthetic point of view, with which the architecture and history of Maison de la Culture et de la Communication at Saint-Etienne has been investigated, can hardly be assigned to one specific school of thought nor associated to one common polemical attitude. The exhibition and catalogue influenced the attention of the visitor, so they didn’t have to follow a strict logical argumentation, but they had to rely on the given, indirect thematic order, which represented an organized interest of the artist in the imaginary of the French culture in the fifties and sixties.

In 1993 in Brussels, Armaly continued his cultural and historical underlining. In the venerable Palais des Beaux-Arts, he found another building with a changeable-opportunistic history of cultural communication. The connection between the subjects, chosen by Armaly—‘cultural’/‘public’ space, symmetry, utopia, monument/foundation, geodesic cupolas, etc.—has a reference structure with a mind of its own and is spread over representative functions and user guidelines of architecture - as information, as an aspect with architects, urbanists and historians, who were involved in various rebuilding of the exhibition halls of the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Armaly associates to as to think through the different conditions of the aggregate of architecture and space. Architecture is not only taking over theatrical or monumental tasks, Armaly says, it also transforms out of a more material form into a media form, which is suggesting the public a rejuvenational, saturated urbanity.

With his design of the ars electronica exhibition section in the Linz Design Center this year, it seemed like the architecture-as-a-medium-observation was confirmed by Armaly: “Posters, signs, and guides are literally just as important—and weighty—as the walls.” The exhibition hall as a space of “information flow,” fits the motto ‘intelligent ambience’ of the Cyber-convention. But also other questions then conceptual problems like the ‘traditional questions’ of statics and weight-bearing capacity of the floor were on the agenda of the exhibition architect. In this sense, Armaly writes, the exhibition site is also an exemplary contemporary comment on the simple truths of relations of forces.