The Construction of a New 'ism' - The Rhethorical Context of Architecture

Thordis Arrhenius


By looking closer at the creation o f Deconstructivism, an architectural 'ism' that established itself on the architectural scene towards the end of the 1980's, this paper will discuss some of the different desires and rhetoric that may underlay the contemporary tendency for architects to establish working relations with philosophy. The introduction of the term "Deconstructivist" into architectural parlance can be traced back to the exhibition Deconstructivist Architecture held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1988. The paper therefore returns to the material presented in the exhibition. Focusing on the text Deconstructivist Architecture by Mark Wigley in the exhibition catalogue, the paper begins with a brief discussion of the relationship between the philosophical term 'deconstruction' and the architectural term 'Deconstructivist' in order to reveal the underlying rhetoric behind the concept 'Deconstructivist Architecture'. This rhetoric is discussed further by investigating the exhibition's references to the avantgarde of Russian Constructivism and by considering the political connotations of architectural form. Continuing, the paper claims in opposition to the curators of Deconstructivist Architecture that the architecture of the exhibition gained its critical edge specifically through discourse, and concludes by arguing for the necessity of a rhetoric in contemporary architectural practice.

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