When Building Becomes Artwork


Artists treat everything in particular ways, including buildings. In the article Building Cast, Carved, Wrapped: The Intervention Practices of Rachel Whiteread, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Christo, the author explained the artists’ works by the meaning of intervention. In the eyes of architects, they consider architecture with the material, facades, function, climate, economy, etc. While those contemporary artists think about the conceptions behind all these. In this way, their works have left more imaginations for viewers.1

In the experimental works of Gordon Matta-Clark, a building is cut or split, similarly what architects do to their working models. But architects cut buildings to generate sections for examining the interior and relations between each floor. Gordon Matta-Clark cut buildings to see a new possibility of the existing space. New air and light are brought into abandoned buildings by this action of cutting.

A building could also be filled up by concrete, and after seeing this work of Rachel Whiteread, you suddenly get surprised maybe even scared. And before seeing this occupation of once lived space, you never noticed that space is something taken up by your body. The useful part for people is the opposite of the solid-the void. The void has been the soul, and the architectural shell is just the container of it. This movement of casting enhanced this impression.2


When Christo achieved to wrap the entire Reichstag which was a well-known monument in Berlin, we finally desire to see the building’s appearance more than ever before. Curiously, the working process of unwrapping the building is similar to constructing it. The releasing of its looking aroused expectations likewise representing it.3

All these art actions on buildings drive us to think about the deep meaning of architecture’s existence. These manipulations of unbuilding revealed our unfamiliar part of what we commonly see. The building is hard and closed, the building is void and useful, the building is part of the place.


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