PUBLISHING info: Sternberg Press with generous support from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts

The crash of the global financial market in 2008 not only heralded in a worldwide economic crisis, but also signaled a crisis within architecture. Specular and spectacular form as it has been fetishised over the last ten to fifteen years– when technology had been absorbed as the content of architecture– had gone bust. This crisis in architectural form was coupled with a sense that the dominant notions of how architecture should be represented within the autonomous space of the white-cube gallery (see below) begged revision. Essays by Rheinhold Martin and Mark Taylor proclaimed the crisis within the discipline; the 2008 Belgian Pavilion “After the Party” signaled the demise of the representation of architecture within the symbolic space of an exhibition.

Exhibitionism invokes this crisis within architecture and the representation thereof as starting point. The hypothesis plays on the reflexive connotations of the term exhibitionism to define the exhibition as (a subtype and equivalent to) architecture, architecture as (a form) of exhibitionism. The thesis is both a radical critique of existing shibboleths within the field based on historical argument, as well as a proposal for a form and method of practice.

The argument resides is a double-sided position: It claims that exhibition is the primary aesthetic medium of today and as a spatio-temporal construct must be problematised as a work of architecture. Likewise it proposes a shift in the discipline of architecture that must be embodied within the politics of its display, if the field is to renew itself after its crisis. This discursive shift is away from architecture as represented (congruent with its form as formally autonomous, indexical and propagated through the algorithm) toward an informal practice of participation and social engagement (which I will term a political materialism of the real).

Exhibitionism will be proffered as a term to characterize a disciplinary shift and to better describe an expanded spatial aesthetics that ought to characterize contemporary architecture as a discipline. It eschews modernist categories and advocates a display of architecture as a 1:1 tautology. Curating, historically involved in the creation, production, realization and promotion of ephemeral situations, is thus proposed as one form of spatial practice, intimately related (or equivalent) to the practice of contemporary architecture.

Objects that are advocated are a bastard child — those which has historically are situated between art and architecture and to date are without a home. As a mode of display exhibitionism moves toward a third term, a presencing of spatial aesthetics in which architecture is part of and equal in value to a broader shared discipline.


Rheinhold Martin, “Empty Form (Six Observations),” LOG 11, winter 2008, pp. 15-21. Mark C. Taylor, “Turning Forty,” LOG 13/14, fall 2008, pp. 7-16.

Specular architecture it seemed had reached its apex in 2006 by time I mounted a CCTV exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The installation exacerbated and fetishised the then bloated image of architecture as architecture to the extent it could not be repeated.

The use of pretext and vorwand is stolen from Juergen Mayer H., who invokes a language play coming before in the English pretext and German vorwand to connote a slippage between text and space.


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Work: Writing