Brief Encounter / TAMAR SHAFRIR

responding to Jack Self + Nicholas Korody

Understanding contemporary life is a constant struggle, which sometimes seems almost impossible. What does it mean to live today? (Jack Self)

/ Why bother? (Nicholas Korody)

To live today is maybe even more of a struggle than understanding contemporary life. Speaking very generally, it seems to me that we are subject to the traditions and structures of the past despite having lost all belief or trust in them. We believe that we are more likely to succeed if we work harder and longer, even when we know that creative work is perhaps the least efficient route towards the expected definition of success (namely salary and job security). We ascribe the marginalization of our profession to its resistance to capitalist productivity, even though there are lip-synching apps valued at several billion dollars. We believe that frugality, minimalism, self-sufficiency, and localism are ethical prerogatives, even when these choices cost more under global capitalism and their quantifiable effects are negligible. We believe that voting is an inherently good thing but we are appalled when extremist politicians or divisive referendum results are chosen democratically. We believe that a romantic relationship is a critical factor in personal fulfillment even though women no longer need to marry to participate in society, and even though we lack the financial security that reinforces and concretizes emotional bonding through shared property. We may be able to deal with these questions at a distance through a critical lens, but in our “real” lives we do our best to convince ourselves that we make our decisions with levity and individuality, as rational and self-conscious free-thinkers, within an understand of reality as generated by a variety of media forms. This phenomenon was observed by Niklas Luhmann in The Reality of the Mass Media in 1995. In his conclusion, he says: “It is not: what is the case, what surrounds us as world and as society? It is rather: how is it possible to accept information about the world and about society as information about reality when one knows how it is produced?” And I suppose that our only purpose is to struggle to answer that question until we find an alternative method of understanding what it means to live today, or ever.

1 Tamar Shafrir is a writer and researcher in the extended field of design (including architecture, visual culture, technology and fashion). She lives in Rotterdam. She studied architecture at the University of Virginia and contextual design at the Design Academy Eindhoven, where she currently teaches.
She worked at Hat Nieuwe Instituut, Museum for Architecture, Design and Digital culture, as design researcher in the R&D department. There she organized as research fellow The Reading Room, a series of public events in form of collective reading and discussion, at which fellows present ongoing research, and invite experts to reflect on the chosen subject. In 2016 she hosted Jack Self talking about Home Economics, British pavilion at Venice Biennale 2016.
Her writings has been published in Dirty Furniture, Disegno, PIN-UP, Real Review, Domus, Abitare, as well as in several books including Material Utopias, Symbolic Exchange, Printing Things and Open-Source Architecture or Primitive Future Office by Parasite2.0.
In 2013 she co-founded the design studio Space Caviar with Joseph Grima where she worked on the exhibitions Archeology of Rose Island, Neoasterisms, SQM: The Home Does Not Exist, and Sigma: Cartography of Learning.
Jack Self (1987) is an architect and writer based in London. He did his Master at AA Undergraduate School. He is director of the REAL foundation and Editor-in-Chief of Real Review (“Britain´s foremost contemporary culture magazine” ) which was award-winning and was featured in the Design Museum´s 2017 Design of the Year Awards. He is also contributing editor at the Architectural Review, and has written for numerous publications like The Guardian032cNew Philosophere-flux,..He published several books RealEstates: Life without Debt (Bedford Press, 2014), Home Economics (2016), Mies in London (2018). In 2016 he co-curated (with Shumi Bose and Finn Williams) the exhibition Home Economics at British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.
1 Nicholas Korody is “writer and fake architect” currently based in New York. He is principal /co – founder of Adjustments Agency with Joanna Kloppenburg, “an architecture of architecture studio”, “or the forces that work to circumscribe the possibilities of architectural thought and practice, with the goal of redesigning it. This takes many forms, from writing to curating to videos. Initially, our practice explored the culture and economy of architectural exhibitions.” (Nicholas Korody)
In 2018 they collaborated with Jessica Kwok on a project domesti-city, a store for architecture located in apartment in Manhattan´s Chinatown focusing on exhibition culture.
Recently, they’ve been working on a couple other themes: the financialization of architecture and the architecture of financializationthe role of architecture in producing normative subjects (video here); and the politics of refusal as they pertain to architecture.
He is also co-founder of Encyclopedia Inc.research based art collective founded in 2013 with Googie Karrass and Carlye Packer. In 2013 they presented hand-bound volumes during the annual Marathon at the Seprentine Galleries in London.
As writer he works as Managing editor forArchinect, Editor-in-Chief of Ed – a hybrid print-digital publication published quarterly by Archinect. He contributed for Real Review, or to the twenty-fourth issue of PIN-UP.
Brief Encounter* is a short and quick format that aims to reveal relationships between individuals, different professions, etc. By avoiding a more complex interview, it aims to recall the immediacy, the lightness of a single, acute, direct but essential question. A brief encounter of two people, a chance to ask someone about something related to their professional interest at a given time, publicly. A meeting framed by the extent of a single question and the virtual space of MAG D A.
* Brief Encounter comes from the 40´s movie by David Lean, about a chance meeting of two random people at a railway station.
5 / 3 / 2020
by Gabriela Smetanová
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