Architecture ≠ Art

A series of lectures and discussions, 2015 & 2017

With invited artists, architects and theoreticians, the new series of lectures entitled Architecture ≠ Art examines the relation between art and architecture. In 2014 series we focused on conceptions of architecture as art or non-art. This year, we will be interested in the way that architecture enters the field of visual arts and vice versa; in what is lost and what is gained in this translation; in the attributes of architecture that artists use to expand the conception of artistic media (film, sculpting, painting, etc.) and that in art that inspires architects – how does the encounter of art and architecture influence the very conception and redefinition of artistic and architectural practice.

Rethinking both architecture and art and especially their relation with social realm coincides with the time of an overall crisis – economic, financial, environmental, social – which is becoming only more aggravated. It seems that the reflection on the social relevance of art in such aggravated circumstances tends to be reduced to the question of its functionality, usefulness, which is one of the fundamental postulates of architecture; while the principles that can be typically found in contemporary art – participation, cooperation, empowerment, process, community, context – increasingly enter the field of architecture through the back door, marking the path in the search for the solutions of spatial problems which are not necessarily built structures.

Foregrounding the significance of a more active inclusion and participation of users (the community) in the planning and even the execution of projects, being aware of the significance of the process and not merely the end product/object, taking into account the specifics of the context in searching for solutions that are not generic, but address concrete needs and elusive desires, are socially and/or environmentally responsible and trigger critical questions – all these elements can (among others) be found in the intersection of contemporary art and architecture. The traditional boundaries between art and architecture are blurred especially in projects of site-specific art and art in public space, in the so-called urban interventions, conceptual design and lately the so-called critical spatial practises. In the case of the last, art and architecture are no longer considered separate disciplines as this concept includes the intersection of various disciplines (including urbanism, sociology etc.), methods and types of knowledge (not only expert skills). Critical spatial practices open and address the pressing issues of contemporary urban environment and questions regarding the very nature and function of art and architecture. The related spatial-cultural discourse combines the ideas from the fields of arts, architecture and urban design, on the one hand, and the theories of the city, and social and public space, on the other.

However, the fusion of art and architecture can also take place differently as shown by Hal Foster in his The Art-Architecture Complex. In this book, he analyses this fusion – the mutual inspiration and the interpenetration of art and architecture – as the key feature of contemporary culture and also cultural economy in the time of global capitalism: "it is now a primary site of image-making and space-shaping in our cultural economy". In his opinion, the examples of a negative materialisation of this complex are iconic architecture and starchitects (Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster) who in their “global styles” create alienated imagistic environments completely unrelated to the location or the context in which they are set up and whose “artisticness” tends to predominate over their functionality. These are cultural artefacts (including certain megalomaniac “architectural” sculptures) of consumer and spectacle society and its need to construct iconic images of spectacle and capital. It is no coincidence, that Foster sees important examples of this art-architecture complex in the iconic architectures of art institutions (for example, the Guggenheim museums across the world), which are important factors in the processes of branding cities and a symptom of the coupling between culture and capital. We come full circle when these institutions exhibit works by the artists and architects that represent an alternative to the mentioned negative materialisation of the art-architecture complex – works that are counter-spectacle and that support an active awareness of the subject in relation to space and in relation to others.

Urška Jurman

Jane Rendell (London): From Critical Spatial Practice to Site-Writing
9 May 2017, 7 pm, MAO, Ljubljana


Video recording


3 December 2015, 6 pm, +MSUM, Ljubljana

Mateja Kurir (Ljubljana): Constructing a Break – The Paradigms of Modernist Architecture

Jasmina Cibic (London): Renovate and Relaunch



19 November 2015, 6 pm, MAO, Ljubljana

Elke Krasny (Vienna): Curating Architecture / Curating Art: Contemporary Encounters

Alen Ožbolt (Ljubljana): Spaces and Relations between Architecture and Sculpture



29 October 2015, 6 pm, +MSUM, Ljubljana

Jože Barši (Ljubljana): Is Sublimation Still an Operative Concept?

Emil Jurcan (Pula): Subversion of Form in Architecture 


Tuesday, 6 October 2015, 6 pm, Kino Šiška

Josef Dabernig (Vienna): The (Architectural) Grid as a Constitutive Element in Film Narration

Sonja Leboš (Zagreb): Solid Immateriality Does Not Melt
Followed with Josef Dabernig's exhibition openning: Mute Society, at 8 pm. Organized by the P74 Center and Gallery.

Museum of Architecture and Design, Fužine Castle, Pot na Fužine 2, Ljubljana
Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, Maistrova 3, Ljubljana
Kino Šiška, Trg Prekomorskih brigad 3, Ljubljana
The Architecture ≠ Art programme is being prepared by the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory in collaboration with the Museum of Architecture and Desig; Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova; and Kino Šiška – Centre for Urban Culture. The programme is supported by the ERSTE Foundation and Austrian Cultural Forum.
Programme managers: Vid Zabel and Urška Jurman (Igor Zabel Association)