Saturday, July 13, 2013

14.2. K. Michael Hays - Ludwig Hilberseimer and the Inscription of the Paranoid Subject

The architecture of both Hannes Meyer (whose work was the subject matter of the first part of this book, previously discussed here) and Ludwig Hilberseimer can only be appropriately understood as pivotal figures in Modern Architecture if observed as a part of a larger avant-garde movement that swept throughout Europe in the early 20th century, manifesting itself in a particularly radical form in the years following World War I within the geopolitical context of Germany and the Weimar Republic. Despite the undeniable pedagogical and conceptual influence these two architects had upon the historical development of architecture as a modern discipline, it still may be pertinent for some to question whether and why we (as architects) should view them as an integral part of our ancestral lineage, particularly when the affective reasons not to do so are readily apparent in their interpretably fascistic aesthetic. Akin to other notable Germans such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger in the years following World War II, it is therefore the task of any writer who seeks to treat these two architects as a historical force, particularly as one that cannot be ignored, to distinguish right from wrong, good from bad, safe from dangerous. But the question still remains: what value is to their potential good if it can hermeneutically result in such bad? Can the two really be separable? To the extent that it is this very separation, inscribed deeply into the modern subject, that acted as the impetus and central problematic for their works, we must answer yes.