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17/10/2017

Verslaafd aan architectuur

Een artikel over de betekenis van de Biertempel discussie voor de architectuurcultuur in België

05/10/2017

Wafels, bier en architectuur

Een artikel naar aanleiding van de herbestemming van de Beurs in Brussel tot biertempel naar ontwerp van Robbrecht & Daem Architecten.

18/09/2017

Creatio ex nihilo

Column #1 over de oorsprongsmythen van de architectuur

03/08/2017

Zorg dragen voor architectuur

Artikel over gebruik en postproductie in de architectuur naar aanleiding van het Jozef Plein in PC Cartias (Melle).

20/06/2017

Do Good architectuur

Artikel over de rol van ontwerp in zorgarchitectuur.

18/03/2017

Sprak er iemand over healing environment ?

Lees hier over de bijdrage van Charles Jencks en de postmoderne architectuur aan de ontmanteling van de kliniek.

22/02/2017

Pic Nic Architectuur

Een retroactief manifest voor Pic Nic the Streets als bijdrage aan de architectuurcultuur in België. Version Française

13/02/2017

Wraak op de commons

Een artikel over het nakende einde voor Agrocité en de toekomst voor architectuur onder zelfbeheer.

03/02/2017

Architectuur van de schaamteplek

Wie grip wil krijgen op de problemen van in psychiatrische ziekenhuizen, begint bij het ontwerp van de isolatiekamer.

22/12/2016

Van Utopia naar Wuustwezel

Er zijn weinig termen die zo’n beladen betekenis hebben in de architectuurgeschiedenis als utopie. Version Français

21/12/2016

Relational Architecture

Read about the production proces of the Kanunnik Petrus Jozef Triest Square in the Psychiatric Centre Caritas, Melle. Article in DutchEnglish / French

12/12/2016

Hoeveel samenwerking kan architectuur verdragen?

Artikel over de tentoonstelling 'Ensembles. Architectuur en Ambachtschap' in deSingel en Vlaams Architectuurinstituut.

15/10/2016

Bouwstenen voor het psychiatrisch centrum van de toekomst

Lees meer over de visieontwikkeling rond het psychiatrisch centrum van de toekomst gepubliceerd in Psyche.

03/10/2016

Eco-politiek in Brussel: Bas Smets en de Brussels Urban Landscape Biennial

Artikel over het nut en nadeel van landschapsarchitectuur als instrument voor regionale ontwikkeling in Brussel.

28/09/2016

Architectuur vol van verlangen

Artikel naar aanleiding van de opening van het Kanunnik Petrus Jozef Triest Plein in Melle.

26/09/2016

(Re)Politicize!

Proud to present the A+261 issue on architecture and politics - Dutch and French edition.

21/09/2016

Architectuur met schaduw

De 20ste eeuw baarde vele duivelspacten tussen architectuur en politiek. Opvallend genoeg wordt de architectuur van het Italiaanse fascisme tot op vandaag geprezen omwille van haar abstracte vormentaal. Dergelijke rehabilitatie is de architectuur van het Derde Rijk nooit te beurt gevallen. België heeft zo zijn eigen kleine trauma in de relatie met de politiek.

24/06/2016

Ingebedde architecten

Lees meer over de architectuur van oorlog en vrede

07/06/2016

Vakmannen aan het front

Een recensie over de bijdrage van Bravoure in de Architectuurbiennale van Venetie.

04/06/2016

Toiletemmers in Werelderfgoed

Er is iets curieus met de inrichting van de gevangenis van Merksplas, waar enkele weken geleden een opstand uitbrak. De geschiedenis van de site reflecteert een utopisch beeld van de gevangenis van de toekomst, de manier waarop omgegaan wordt met die geschiedenis symboliseert dan weer de gemiste kansen.

04/12/2015

FPC Gent: geen markt, geen gevangenis

De opening van het Forensisch Psychiatrisch Centrum in Gent zorgt na één jaar werking voor een grote opluchting - zelfs bij voormalige critici. De juiste vraag is niet of aanvankelijke bezorgheid terecht was, maar wel of de opluchting niet een beetje voorbarig is? 


28/10/2015

Het penitentiair verdriet van België

In de bouw van het gevangenisdorp Haren vormen de lokale en regionale overheid samen front met de actiegroepen tegen de federale overheid - of toch niet? Hoe kunnen we de knoop tussen activisme en politiek ontwarren?

23/10/2015

Een psychiatrisch centrum bouwen we samen

Ook architectuur heeft zijn plaats op de Vlaamse Hersteldagen. Doe mee op 18 november in de Vooruit.

01/09/2015

Eindelijk een kennisplatform voor humane gevangenisarchitectuur

De website www.prisongear.be presenteert het onderzoek naar een humane gevangenisarchitectuur.

07/04/2015

Ontmanteling van de psychiatrische kliniek

Lees de gevalstudies over zorgarchitectuur in Vlaanderen gepubliceerd in Psyche

22/10/2014

Een sterke leefomgeving begint met ruimteregie

Wat deelt een onafgewerkte verkeersinfrastructuur in Godsheide, een vervallen vierkantshoeve in Grote Spouwen, een gesloten mijnkatedraal in de Eisdense Tuiwijk en een geplande gevangenis op Domein Riegersvliet?


21/08/2014

Wie is er bang van het Bouwmeestercollege?

Iedereen lijkt het roerend eens dat de Vlaamse architectuur zonder de Bouwmeester overgeleverd is aan de wetten van de markt en de willekeur van het politieke bedrijf. Lees de opinie 'De Bouwmeester en de onheilsprofeten'.

20/12/2013

A humane prison is coming to your neighbourhood

As part of the Conflict & Design Triennial the knowledge platform Prison Gear presents design studies that pave the way for a humane prison in Leopoldsburg, Belgium.

16/12/2013

Een humane gevangenis komt naar je toe

Als onderdeel van de Conflict & Design Triënnale presenteert Prison Gear twee visieontwerpen voor de toekomstige gevangenis op het militaire domein Reigersvliet in Leopoldsburg.

09/10/2013

Limburg City / Stad Limburg

Read the memorandum of the Limburg Europa Workshop / Lees de projectnota van Atelier Limburg Europa

15/09/2013

The dismantling of the psychiatric clinic

Read the case studies on care architecture in Flanders

21/08/2013

Wat is ontwerpend onderzoek?

Drie vragen over ontwerpend onderzoek, drie antwoorden vanuit de Noorderkempen.

10/04/2013

Heeft een gemeenplaats ook een gemene waarde ?

Commentaarstuk bij het Architectuurboek n° 10: Radicale Gemeenplaatsen - Europese architectuur uit Vlaanderen

03/02/2013

Is onzichtbare psychiatrische zorg mogelijk?

Review van de opstart Pilootprojecten Zorg door de Vlaams Bouwmeester

06/11/2012

Limburg heeft ambitie / Limburg has ambition

Presentatie van de Startnota Provinciaal Bouwmeester Limburg / Presentation Initial Memo Limburg Government Architect

12/10/2012

Hoeveel vernieuwing kan de gevangenis verdragen ?

Lees hoe de modernisatie van de gevangenisarchitectuur in handen van Stéphane Beel begon en eindige bij het Ducpétiaux-model.

12/07/2012

San Gimignano aan de Zenne

Lees de column naar aanleiding van de Keukentoren van XDGA

11/04/2012

Sociaal-realisme of zelfcensuur

Met Jonas Staal schreef BAVO een pleidooi voor een nieuw sociaal-realisme in de kunst. Sociaal-realisme is broodnodig in het tijdperk van de hysterische reproductie.

21/02/2012

Nu ook een schreeuw om architectuur!

Niet occupy-en, maar de gevestigde orde verleiden om in crisistijden te investeren in leuke projecten. Lees hier meer over de Studio for Unsollicited Architecture.

20/01/2012

Gesloten architectuur is ook humaan

Lees meer over Fleur Agema's gevangenismodel

21/11/2011

Waarom kunstenaars niet fascistisch genoeg zijn

Lees het artikel in het decembernummer van Rekto:Verso.

12/09/2011

De Culturele Elite

Lees de bijdrage.

29/08/2011

Artist Participation in South Africa

The international PR campaign to showcase Rotterdam's robust policy on artist participation is now also tapping into the emerging African art markets.

17/06/2011

Denkverbod op liberale kunst

Column over de stellingenoorlog naar aanleiding van de aangekondigde bezuinigingen in de cultuursector.

07/06/2011

Maak liberaal kunstbeleid liberaal

Lees BAVO's advies aan staatssecretaris Zijlstra met betrekking tot de noodgedwongen keuzen die de cultuursector in Nederland te wachten staat.

18/03/2011

International promotion campaign of the Office for Artist Participation kicks off

The City of Edinburgh will be the first to host an international promotion event of Rotterdam's innovative cultural policies for enforcing the participation of artists in heightening a city's competitiveness and securing social peace on the local level.

28/02/2011

Culture and Contestation

The essay 'Neo-Liberalism with Dutch Characteristics: The Big Fix-Up of the Netherlands and the Practice of Embedded Cultural Activism' is published in the book volume 'Culture and Contestation in the New Century'.

19/01/2011

Art and Activism

BAVO's essay 'Artists... one more effort to be really political!' is published in the volume 'Art and Activism in the age of Globalisation'.

20/10/2010

Boek verschenen: Too Active To Act

Het boek biedt een kritische analyse van de maatschappelijke betrokkenheid van culturele actoren in Nederland in de afgelopen tien jaar.

CULTURAL ACTIVISM TODAY

The New Myth of Relative Manufacturability

project: CULTURAL ACTIVISM TODAY

date: 24/03/2009

author: BAVO

source: Open #15

status: article

In the struggle against the global world order Lieven De Cauter calls for a rehabilitation of manufacturability and the realization that political choices do matter.1 And rightly so. The triumphal march of the global world order – at least at an ideological level – is being made possible by an apolitical view of society. We see it as a ‘occurrence’, a spontaneous play of conflicting forces that constantly short-circuit one another and seek out synergies. The role of politics has been reduced to merely ‘policing’ the orderly course of this play of forces, without the ambition to want to guide it, as was the case during the heyday of the manufacturable society.2 Nonetheless ‘manufacturability’ still treads the societal stage. Monitoring, after all, also concerns the safeguarding of the essential conditions for the societal occurrence, such as parliamentary democracy, press freedom and the free circulation of goods and capital, conditions that the ‘police troops’ of the global world order defend with force if necessary.

Remarkably, however, De Cauter also immediately puts the brakes on his call for a ‘repoliticization’ by immediately speaking about a ‘relative’ manufacturability. At first glance this defensive approach is understandable. To start talking again about a total manufacturability would not only be unacceptable, but above all not credible given the current consensus on the causal link between manufacturability and totalitarianism. The manufacturability of society has become an anathema over which hangs a corny paternalist haze. De Cauter’s emphasis on the relative, however, is more than merely strategic. With it he expresses the more general conceptual movement to make thinking and acting in terms of a utopia – the framework within which attempts at manufacturability were invariably undertaken – acceptable once more by no longer viewing it as an ‘guiding-image’, but as an ‘counter-image’. The term utopia no longer refers to the representation of an alternative model of society as the guiding thread for a political project. On the contrary, it is understood in terms of an ‘unceasing indictment’ against the inequities intrinsic to the existing world order.3

De Cauter himself seems not to believe in the possibility of repoliticizing the global world order. Within his train of thought, critical counterforces can at most make an ethical appeal to the global order to better control its excesses – what on closer examination is also the basic position of the ‘global governance’ movement.4 This assumes that the global world order is not infallible, but is capable of regulating its own shortcomings, without external political interference. The assumption is that globalization, in its current, neoliberal form, is an inevitable, quasi-natural process, which at most requires the stipulation of certain ethical (behavioural) codes. A defining feature of these ethical codes is that they are drawn up by the parties involved themselves. Think of the Dutch publicly traded corporations that recently formalized their own behaviour with the famous Tabaksblat Code. Alternative globalization ethicists, like De Cauter, can at most exert pressure to accelerate this natural process of self-regulation.

It is precisely this ultimate naturalization of the global order that needs to be combated. A merely ethical counterposition is not sufficient for this purpose.5 What is needed is a political critique of the global world order: the global world order must be stripped of any pretence of naturalness by critically reconstructing its ‘manufactured’ character, as well as exposing the last fragments of utopian thinking that lend this order its coherence.6

The Manufacturability of Spontaneous Initiatives

A good start for such a project is to expose the superficial character of the ‘demonization of manufacturability’ in today’s society. For all that it is taboo these days to speak in terms of manufacturability, the philosophy of manufacturability is nonetheless being applied on a massive scale. Geographer Erik Swyngedouw rightly points out that, despite what official ideology would suggest, neoliberalism maintains an intimate relationship with state intervention.7 Not coincidentally, he made this observation in connection with the development of the Zuidas in Amsterdam, a large office, residential and leisure complex currently being built in the south of the city. At an official level, the Zuidas is represented as the spontaneous outcome of societal processes: the demand for more office space, trendy residential accommodation and cultural infrastructure, as well as the need for reliable access. The reality, however, is that the Zuidas is part of what the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM) calls the ‘National Spatial Framework’ of the Netherlands: the collection of all the spatial assets that are crucial to the international competitive position of the Netherlands – and which are therefore meticulous managed at the highest planning level: the state.8 Here we uncover the core of the ‘relative manufacturability’ intrinsic to present-day society in the Netherlands. Dutch society is being manufactured even today – the Zuidas leaves no doubt as to this fact. It is simply no longer manufactured totally. Instead, the government intervenes only in places that are of strategic importance to particular objectives. It initiates projects for which it delegates both the implementation and the direction, but intervenes in the process at well-considered, strategic moments. It also repeatedly responds to the particular needs and desires of specific target groups and facilitates these as much as possible. This hyperactive role in the National Spatial Framework is compensated by outsourcing the remaining portion of societal organization as much as possible to lower levels of administration (provinces and municipalities) and to the self-regulating capacities of the social field of forces (market partners, societal parties and/or enterprising individuals). A second characteristic of relative manufacturability is the dissimulation of state intervention by involving every conceivable stakeholder in the development – economic, societal and cultural players – so that even the Zuidas takes on a quasi-spontaneous character.

At lower levels of scale we run into the same politics of relative manufacturability. Every self-respecting city in the Netherlands is now hard at work on generating a creative quantum leap. Municipal authorities are frenetically mapping out creative hotspots, redeveloping sites for creative ‘breeding places’, designing policy focusing on creative developments, launching promotion campaigns, mobilizing investments in creative sectors, etc. Here too, in other words, in spite of all the rhetoric to the contrary, we are clearly dealing with manufacturability based on a more or less clearly formulated ideal vision. Only this is done in a smarter, ‘relative’ way. Instead of subjecting deprived neighbourhoods to a total makeover, the Dutch government is performing extremely localized precision operations into the social and physical fabric of the city. These interventions are nevertheless linked to grand utopian expectations. Not coincidentally, the parties involved speak of ‘gentripuncture’ in these cases. In a problem area, like Rotterdam’s Spangen district, creative groups are ‘injected’ in the expectation that their entrepreneurial zeal will restore the countenance of this working-class area to its former glory and spur its residents into action.9 Just as at the Zuidas, here too we are dealing with a consciously created ambiguity about the true engine of the process of societal change. Even though the so-called gentripunctural interventions would be unthinkable without the massive financial and organizational efforts of the government and even though they are part of well-defined policy programmes based on scientific reports, the operation is nevertheless attributed to the spontaneous entrepreneurial actions of creative actors.

The Perverse Core of Relative Manufacturability

In this we come up against the paradox of the relative manufacturability of Dutch society. On the one hand, there is consensus on the fact that manufacturability leads to an asphyxiation of the most essential qualities of societal actors: their creativity, entrepreneurship and potential for self-regulation. At the same time, there is agreement that these qualities should be stimulated. This creates the hilarious spectacle of a government that claims to be recusing itself and leaving the societal initiative to bottom-up developments, only to frenetically guide these processes along proper channels and, if they are absent, to generate them. In this the government is fulfilling the same role as the presenter of the popular television programme Dragons’ Den, in which creative individuals (the pitchers) try to arouse the interest of venture capitalists (the dragons) in order to develop their inventions. The role of the presenter is limited to introducing the pitchers and to laugh or cry along with the pitchers when they discover the market value of their creative proposals. While the initiative to appear before the dragons indubitably lies with the creative individuals, the presenter, who always stays in the background, represents the vanishing mediator of this ostensibly spontaneous occasion.

Relative manufacturability acquires a perverse quality in that societal actors may have more room to give free rein to their creativity, but under the strict condition that they not only be creative, but exploit their creativity in the correct, enterprising way. If they fail to do this, disciplinary sanctions follow. In the process the Dutch government, in the area of cultural policy, is increasingly taking on the guise of the Dragons’ Den venture capitalists: the financial resources of ‘uncreative’ breeding grounds are implacably slashed or even cut off entirely, with the resulting available budgets being reinvested in so-called ‘points of excellence’. These are top cultural institutions from which a high ‘return value’ is expected in the area of international allure, economic suitability or societal benefit. This modus operandi represents, within culture policy, the variant of the previously mentioned National Spatial Framework.

This far-reaching government interference in the field of culture in the Netherlands is anything but an isolated case. On the contrary, it is the local version of the philosophy of relative manufacturability that prevails on a global scale today. Think, for example, of the way Western powers, in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq or Palestine, are actively creating the right conditions for the facilitation of the innate thirst for democracy of the local populations. When the population misuses its democratic rights and chooses undesirable parties to defend its interests, such as Hamas in Palestine, extreme sanctions follow and the paternalism of the heyday of the manufacturable society makes a grand comeback.

A Different View of the Global World Order is Possible

The politicization of the global world order, therefore, lies not in an ‘ethical critique’ but in rendering visible its ‘relatively manufacturable’ character and hidden paternalism. A unique political moment can consist of the public acknowledgement of this suppressed and obscene truth as well as its integration in its official, post-political self-representation. The challenge is therefore to resist the temptation to immediate postulate an ‘alternative globalization’. In the first instance, the global world order demands an alternative historiography – new historiographic myths and monuments – that does justice to the denied manufactured character of its spontaneous guise.

In concrete terms, we propose the following. In another context Lieven De Cauter, as a protest against the harsh immigration policy of the European Union, proposed nominating the wall around Ceuta – along with all detention centres for illegal immigrants on the European mainland – as the culture monument of 1998 (in the context of the Jan Hagel Prize) with as a tag line: ‘Observers predict that it will someday become a tourist attraction.’10 Building on this, we propose nominating the light coercion with which creatives are being send into ‘the dragon’s den’ in search of microcredits – made necessary by the closure of uncreative ‘breeding places’ and the concentration of culture budgets in elite creative institutions as the ‘culture moment of 2008’. Without De Cauter’s ethical cynicism, however. We are deadly serious. Today the actions of the government within the creative sector might appear as cruel yet necessary. The future will undoubtedly tell whether this disciplinary state intervention will have contributed in an unprecedented way to the making of a new generation of self-sufficient and decisive creative entrepreneurs, who cheerfully let their creativity be tapped for the dream we all share: a strong international competitive position for the Netherlands within the global world order.

References

1. See ‘Utopia and Globalization’ in: Lieven De Cauter, The Capsular Society, in: Reflect #3 (Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2004), pp. 184-191.

2. We use ‘policing’ as the translation of the concept of ‘la police’ that Jacques Rancière defined in detail as a depoliticized form of conducting politics. See Jacques Rancière, La mésentente (Paris: Ed. Galilée, 1995).

3. Lieven De Cauter also situates the practice of relative manufacturability as resistance in light of the formulation of an ‘absolute demand for justice’.

4. This solution to the excesses of globalization in terms of ‘better management’ is advocated by such figures as Joseph Stiglitz, one of the most famous critics of neoliberal globalization. See Joseph Stiglitz, Globalisation and its Discontents (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2003).

5. Because of the ethical slant of De Cauter’s position, he can easily be forced into the position of the hysteric or whistleblower who continually challenges the global world order to respond to one failing or another – yesterday war, today global warming, tomorrow something else – without proposing an alternative himself. Even his call to politicize the global world order by creating alternative worlds in its margins is significantly undermined by the way in which De Cauter interprets this resistance (among other things, with general terms such as alternative globalism, the anti-war movement and environmental activism) as well as the idealistic selection of the margin as a field of action.

6. This premise is based on Slavoj Zizek, who argues that a critique lies, first and foremost, in the study of the reproduction of the existing order. See the introduction to The Indivisible Remainder (London/New York: Verso Books, 1996).

7. Erik Swyngedouw, ‘A New Urbanity? The Ambiguous Politics of Large-Scale Urban Development Projects in European Cities’, in: Willem Salet (ed.), Amsterdam Zuidas. European Space (Rotterdam: 010 Publishers, 2005).

8. See Nota Ruimte. Ruimte voor ontwikkeling (‘National Spatial Strategy: Room for Development’), finalized by the Dutch cabinet on 23 April 2004. This illusion is being maintained in the face of all sorts of grave signs to the contrary, such as a major lack of occupancy in the Amsterdam office market, declining interest on the part of market parties, and so on.

9. In this we are alluding to, for instance, ‘De dichterlijke vrijheid’ (‘Poetic Licence’) – as far as we know one of the first projects to explicitly use the term gentripuncture. This was a project centred on the Wallisblok in Spangen, set up by the Rotterdam Development Corporation in close cooperation with Steunpunt Wonen and Hulshof Architecten. Due to its success, this spontaneous initiative became best practice within the ‘Hot Spot Policy’ of the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment (VROM). In Rotterdam, the project was further developed and refined in the project ‘169 Klushuizen’.

10. See footnote 17 to the essay ‘The Capsular Civilization’ in: Lieven De Cauter, The Capsular Civilization, Reflect # 3, NAi Publishers, Rotterdam, 2004, pp 51-54.