Note on Interracial Communication
Image: TOP Office Luc Deleu
Global Center for Interracial Communication (1980) is a work by Luc Deleu & T.O.P. Office
The Queen Elizabeth sails past two identical buildings, or at least what seem to pass for buildings. Let’s just call them buildings, if only because the title of the drawing suggests as much. One building stands, the other lies. Both volumes display a structure made up of narrowing cubes, evocative of the golden ratio.
In the scant literature about the work, limited reference is made to the artist’s biography. It is said that Luc Deleu found inspiration during his travels around the world, with among others a visit to the Twin Towers (New York), The Fallen Monarch (Los Angeles), a lying obelisk in an Egyptian archaeological site, etc. Geert Bekaert interpreted the work as an architectonic study in perspective, manipulating our sense of perspective, referring to horizontally positioned highway lighting at the St. Lambert’s Square in Liège (1985) and ditto electricity pylons at St. Peter’s Square in Ghent (1986). These biographical and architectural reflections nevertheless distract attention from the intrinsic value of this curious work. That spectators, in adoration of the accompanying scale model, forget to read the caption on the wall is forgivable. But observers of the drawing must be well and truly blind not to read that the work evolves around an ‘idea-design’.
The cryptic under script brings us back seamlessly to the cheerful boldness noticed by Geert Bekaert in the work of Luc Deleu, which he described as ‘radical realism’. The biographical and architectural references are nonsensical at this point. The questions that matter here are: What is the idea-proposal? What question does the work raise? What is the ethical commitment? What is the reality value? The observer is given no word of explanation and has to manage with that one cryptic description of interracial communication. In 2020, and in the light of #blacklivesmatter, I can only understand the work as a spatial argument for urban planning on a planetary scale – i.e. what Luc Deleu has called orbanism –as part of an equally planetary social programme for interracial communication.
Published in: Peter Swinnen and Anne Judong (eds.), Luc Deleu & T.O.P. Office: Future Plans 1970-2020, Flemish Architecture Institute, Antwerpen 2020. Link: https://www.vai.be/publicaties/luc-deleu-t-o-p-office-future-plans-1970-2020