Shower Curtain Wall

Proposal: Installation / Performance

2020  

TBD 

Shower Curtain Wall speculates on the cultural and disciplinary space between the shower curtain and the curtain wall, and the oppositional spheres they occupy: keeping water in versus keeping it out, soft vs hard, private vs public, interior vs exterior, etc. This phenomenal opposition between the surfaces has its parallel in the immaterial domain of disciplinary (architecture) discourse, i.e. the degree to which they attract scholarly investigation. Additionally, this pairing of opposites illuminates the boundaries of the discipline, with the curtain wall firmly confined within its limits, and the shower curtain - with its quotidian associations, “a fleeting object of study” 1 - at its fringes, wallowing away in the laxness of discursive obscurity. In projecting modernist virtues of bureaucratic transparency via the material transparency of glass, the former attains the status of a disciplinary project, invariably becoming a tad too disciplined. If the identification of a medium is an act of institutional reification 2, then the curtain wall presents as modernism’s medium par excellence. The research culminates in an exhibition proposal that stages a caress of opposites, of the shower curtain’s surface against that of the curtain wall. In seeking moments of approximation within a spectrum of institutionally assigned value, the project unpacks this messy notion of disciplinary proximity.

Surface Rituals  Surface Rituals Surface Rituals                  

The project adapts performance to mediate binaries: the requirement for maintenance and cleaning shared by both surfaces plays out as a cleansing ritual, a performance of suggestive gestures. Conflating the public and domestic realm, this ritual extends beyond the cleansing of inanimate surfaces to engage the subject surface (the corpus) as is the case with the cleansing of oneself (showering). Staged in the interstitial space between the curtain wall and shower curtain, the ritual is refracted as a spectacle that coopts the curtain wall’s transparency in service of screening modes of uncodified spatial occupancy. In positing performance as a medium for the production of architecture, the project teases the disciplines' plasticity, extending the range of contents that perforate its discourse, while allowing others circulate out into a broader field of cultural consumption and evaluation. 


1    Sylvia Lavin, “Critique passionnée or a folie à trois,” in Flash in the Pan (London:                         Architectural Association, 2014), 7.
2    Waled Beshty, “Aesthetics and Distribution Case (1): Preliminary Notes on Art’s Ability to       Radicalize Academia,” in 33 Texts: 93,614 Words: 581,035 Characters (Zurich : JRP | Ringier, 2016), 213.

Images: Elevation and axonometric fabric print studies depicting the curtail wall of the Pepsi-Cola Corporation World Headquarters by Natalie de Blois & Gordon Bunshaft of SOM.

Design Research  
While the physical research component of the proposal is directed towards the design and fabrication of custom fabrics and curtain track systems, the staging and design of these objects is an attempt to mine ephemeral and immaterial outcomes of the aforementioned caress. The research attempts to corrupt staid notions of the shower curtain as pre-modern and curtain wall as thoroughly modern. Via ornamentation and decorative patterning, the former retains its affiliation to a pre-modernity whose erasure led to the realization of the latter. Albeit conflicting, this shared link to ornamentation is activated as an area for research that seeks to transpose the application of ornament upon the respective surfaces.

Methodologies: Curtain wall (as readymade)
The staging of the exhibition requires the procurement of a space whose curtain wall or storefront is subsumed into the project as a readymade object that is at once object and site of inquiry. In the space of the exhibition, the curtain wall undergoes an estrangement, its use-value subverted to engage the temporal contingencies of an event that entices its participation. This estrangement seemingly dissolves the curtain wall's rigidity to permit extant modes of disciplinarity and inquiry to occur.