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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

LIMNING THE DROSS

Having recently come across an interview with the intriguing architectural critic Deyan Sudjic in the most recent issue of Dwell magazine, I have become curious about his book, The Edifice Complex, which is an examination of the way in which the wealthy and powerful manifest their wealth and power through architectural pursuits. In the interview (not available online), Sudjic makes an interesting albeit obvious statement about the essential drive and need of the architect to build; it is even more interesting to consider that they will do so as the willing servant of the ├╝ber-being that can facilitate the process, whether they happen to possess more money than scruples or not. I can only imagine that the architect's integrity is compromised as a result, though at what point will the architect step away and decline further involvement, if at all? Is it possible that the vision of the architect becomes inconsequential and thwarted by the vision of the financier? I shudder to think of the outcomes that arise from this presumably common dynamic.

So the rich and powerful build monuments to showcase their financial girth and to bolster their already hefty egos? Michiko Kakutani doesn't seem to think this is such a groundbreaking idea, or that Sudjic has done an effective job in elucidating the phenomenon concisely, but rather calls the book "a fat, overstuffed jumble of the obvious and the fascinating, the tired and the intriguing". She also characterizes the book as being rife with dross, so much so that she, in effect, had to sift through the mess "surrounding its nuggets of insight". I daresay that 'limning' may have been a more appropriate word there. At any rate, I'm not going to let Michiko's review scare me away. Sudjic's credentials tell the tale, while Michiko's are less than stellar. As soon as I can, I'm going to get myself down to DM Books, where the book in question is on sale for $5.99! Sad that it's already being remaindered, but glad that it works to my advantage!

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