Project of My Self is a postgraduate thesis project at The Berlage Center (2013-2014).
The project investigates everyday life following Foucauldian discourse of biopolitics. With politicization of everyday life, when life itself has become an object of governance, the project investigates the blurring separation of life and work.
As “life” is the emblem of living conditions, the practice of living is one of the paradigmatic means for a (critical) project. So the practice of living of the author here becomes the means of praxis. Repetition and temporalization of everyday acts and decisions of living (ethics), becomes a critical means to explore an architectural project despite the given frames of architectural practices.
The projects aims to reissue notions of project, praxis, mediality of technique, and autonomy in today’s practice of architecture through exploring practices of the self.
Here is the archive of the project.
“Not right away. I was illegal, experiencing culture shock, had to stand washing dishes 12 hours a day, my ankles didn’t heal completely, and I was afraid of being caught by immigration officers. I was eager to do art but had no ideas to do any work. It was frustrating. I had a studio in Tribeca and I walked back and forth doing my thinking every day after work. One day all of a sudden I thought: what else do I look for? I don’t need to go out to find art, I am already in my work.“ […] Schwabsky: How important was it to document the piece? If thinking is really the essence of the work, there’s no document of it, only of the physicality of the action. Hsieh: What I was thinking is not important; I passed the duration of one year by thinking. When the time passes, the piece is finished, what is left is document. Documentation is not art itself, it is a trace and evidence between the work and the audience. […] “One year of time is the frame I set up for passing time. While having no idea, No Art became a piece of work, I just went on in life. After that piece, it wasn’t easy to go back to art; during the Thirteen-Year Plan, in 1991, I did a piece of work: Disappearance. I didn’t finish it; it is a failed piece. I tried to go to Alaska, but just went as far as Seattle. I stopped half a year later. I could have finished it until the last day of the Thirteen-Year Plan, if only for the sake of art, and it could be a powerful piece. But I questioned myself. In Thirteen-Year Plan I was already in exile and Disappearance brought me further on this road of exile, I could not bear it. I could not do it only for art yet it was against myself. I don’t do art any more since 2000. Now I’m just doing life. I’m still thinking.”  Frieze Magazine. 2009. “Live Work” Last modified November 2013
To draw the ordinary can be kitsch. It can also be tragic. And as well to draw a “tragic” ordinary can become kitsch (by its means of representation). But what about drawing “the spaces of” the ordinary? Then perhaps the generic, empty, non-personal spaces can represent kitsch as kitsch, tragic as tragic, melancholic as melancholic. What is to draw the personal without drawing the person? Or: the personal, now and in a broad sense, is generic.
As an architect we are told to draw. To produce the best design for places that people live in, spaces people reproduce themselves in. To draw the most “sustainable” buildings, the most beautiful buildings, the most “meaningful” buildings, the most economically sufficient buildings, and so forth. Are we ever asked to draw spaces for ourselves? Perhaps it should have been the first exercise in architectural studies. And if it was, then how many of us would basically draw almost the same space at that time? What if we are asked now in the second year of a postgraduate program to draw spaces for ourselves? Wouldn’t we draw the same spaces with (even) the same (Ikea) furniture still–us generic human subjects never questioning any given?
“Everything for human beings is divided between proper and improper, […] this is because they are or have to be only a face. Every appearance that manifests human beings thus […] makes them confront the task of turning truth into their own proper truth. But truth itself is not something of which we can take possession, nor does it have any object other than appearance and the improper: it is simply their comprehension, their exposition. […] [T]he only truly human possibility is lost: that is, the possibility of taking possession of impropriety as such…” “Be only your face. Go to the threshold. Do not remain the subjects of your properties or faculties, do not stay beneath them: rather, go with them, in them, beyond them.”
(Agamben, Giorgio. 2000. “The face”. Means Without End: notes on politics, Vol. 20. US: U of Minnesota Press.)
“Politically Correct” “Politically correct” and idolized outcome is itself a fetishized matter of political structures. A liberating project needs to claim and celebrate the very practice in place of the outcome.
1 -“to have, to hold, to possess” (past participle of habere)
2 -“hand, forearm” (cf. Sanskrit gabhasti-)
-“act of taking” (gabal)
-“to live, dwell” (from Latin habitare) Inhabit (v.)
1 -“hold, have” (requentative of habere)
2 -“to dwell in” (from Latin inhabitare)
-“relating to (religious) rites” (Latin ritualis ) Rite (n.)
1 -“religious observance or ceremony, custom, usage” (Latin ritus , early 14c.)
2 -“number” (Old English rim)
-“to count, number”, “number” (cf. Greek arithmos)