Day 28 :: Empty Architecture

Buenos Aires today.

By some stroke of luck (and a bit of correspondence) a friend from Lima happened to be in Buenos Aires this week. Alexis accompanied me on my pilgrimage today to a number of the city’s museums.

Architecturally speaking I was largely disappointed – could I have already exhausted what this city has to offer? In the morning, an abysmal museum by Rafael Vinoly (I am going to go so far as to say he is one of the worst architects alive – a twisted cacophony of styles, materials, and forms makes for one of the most unimpressive, culturally regarded projects I have seen on this trip); another pithy feat of engineering by ‘architect’ Santiago Calatrava, the architecture-ignoramus’ most prized public figure; the unfortunately closed Museo Xul Solar; and the MALBA, at least a clean, comfortable and open space which adequately exhibited a new Andy Warhol exhibition traveling through the continent.

On the dreadfully hot walks in between these projects I couldn’t help but interrogate my new friend; using her as a proxy for all of the travelers I’ve met on this trip, I couldn’t help but wonder, “what are you running away from and/or what it is that you are in search for?” It seems like most people have one or both of those demons in their aimless lives, and I simply can’t comprehend why anyone outside of the allied arts (art, architecture, dance, music, cooking) would take an indeterminate time to “see the world.” To what end? For what purpose? Artists move to be inspired, to gain perspective, to expose themselves to the other. Laymen travel out of some unidentified dissatisfaction with life, hoping to find the answer to a question they never knew was asked. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I can’t help but think traveling thousands of miles to sleep in a bunk bed of questionable hygienic merits in a seedy neighborhood to see things Fodors tells you are worth seeing and drinking the same alcohol you would at your local bar is a waste of your time. Regardless, my naive counterpart seemed to come up short with answers.

In other news, I have been invited to serve on a jury at my old Alma Mater, the University of Illinois for a final design review come May. Hopefully I can discourage some hopeful young-ins from becoming the next generation of degenerate architects. Partially kidding.

Tomorrow, hopefully I can find Corbusier in La Plata.


About this entry