Vito Acconci & Robert Mangurian

Espace public pour Washington State University, Seattle, 1988

“Space must be public in the sense that it is a place for meetings, discussions and exchanges.  In other words, it becomes a place where minds move but also a place capable of becoming a forum.”  V. Acconci

For the campus at Washington State University, located in Seattle and frequented by large numbers of students, Acconci and Mangurian pictured a withdrawn place removed from the urban throb.  They drew inspiration from the model of the monastery, a place at once community-oriented and suitable for individual reflection.  The reliefs of the terrain were transformed into an oasis, the terrace roofs of the administrative premises were diverted from their function to become a field of wheat, pastureland, breathing in a space akin to a huge forest.  The architecture engendered the nature which it had raised up from the ground towards the sky.  A series of miniature, portable elements was sculpted and placed to incarnate expansion and incursion in the living space.  Like leeches, they clamber, clinging to the buildings, wrapping the walls of courtyards, and climbing over walls.  This visual occupation of the premises was amplified by loudspeakers constantly broadcasting in the trees, as if they had been endowed with words and invasive sounds.  Everywhere towers rose up, like watchtowers, in a jungle with artificial geometry.  The set of photo-texts, with a combination of collages, writings, and doubly exposed words, as well as the collection of drawings, retraced a process of spatial research whose essential content remained the same as the research which informed Vito Acconci in the 1960s—research to do with the body’s mobility and the demands made on it in space.  In this project, architecture became performance. 

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