The Journal Spéciale'Z is a publication of the Ecole Spéciale d'Architecture in Paris, explores architecture's complex contemporary context. Each issue is structured around four thematic questions critical to current debate on the built environment, bringing together contributions by researchers and practitioners — artists, architects and urbanists. The Journal mediates the wider cultural experiences that feed into the knowledge-culture of spatiality with open calls for submissions ensuring a dialogue between emerging and established voices. Articles appear in either English or French, with selected French texts also translated.
The Journal Spéciale'Z is distributed by Bruil & van de Staaij, one of the world's leadings distributors of architecture, art and design magazines.
Contributors are: Odile Decq, Etienne Chobaux, Justin Fowler, Office for Subversive Architecture, Beate Niemann, Claude Parent, among many others.
In architectural publications such as this one, art is fair game — 'architecture and art' uttered in nearly the same breath. The latter is understood to share many concerns with the former, warranting frequent critical forays by architects into the realm of art. Indeed, in practice itself, the phenomenon of architects shifting away from the profession's traditional remit to make art in one of multiple declinations — sculpture, installation, photography, drawing, is today prevalent. Historically and across cultures, art and architecture formed a continuum with engineering, offering a coherent and complete mode of interrogating the world. In the 20th century, le Corbusier's paintings were one example of a deviation into what could be considered an art practice; yet these works raised spatial questions that fed back into his architecture, becoming instruments of an architectural project.
From le Corbusier forward, it is possible to cite numerous architects who have embedded artistic modes of operation in their practice or who have abandoned, either abruptly or in steps, architecture for art entirely. Yet, it would seem more difficult to name artists who have made the opposite journey toward built works of architecture; Vito Acconci comes to mind but few others. Indeed, architecture may have become such as highly professionalized discipline that the notion of an artist making architecture is simply untenable considering the technical skills that one assumedly needs to build. The highly regulated distinction between architecture and design (whether of interiors, industrial, or otherwise) is one that some architects insist upon, arguing that architecture is a specific discipline with its own set of technical and conceptual needs. Do architects then harbour an entrenched skepticism towards the kind of crossing-over that they themselves sometimes engage in?
For some in the art world, architects simply are oblivious to the bad art they produce. The co-opting of art practice by architects — and these include the now also highly professionalized institutional structures that support artists: galleries, museums, grant-making foundations — is an unjustified incursion into terrain for which architects are ill-prepared. The debate raises larger questions about the differences between architecture and art; when, if at all, does one become the other? Do architects have a legitimate claim to art-making? Are architecs ever free from an understanding of production that is bound to a notion of a process leading toward an ultimate end which is building?
Contributions can be sent to specialez until May 15, 2012. Click Here for details.