Accattone #5 (preview)

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Armin Linke, photographic series CORPORATE ARCADIA 3 Editorial 60 Fade to Grey, Ido Avissar 64 UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS 68 ROMAN CITIES PROJECT 86 Minor Perspectives, a conversation 96 TEXT ROOM, ATHENS, presented by Elina Axioti 104 INSIDE/OUTSIDE 120 Athens as Underground Arcadia, Artistide Antonas 124


4 Detail from Paul Delvaux’s Dawn on the City (1940) from the Belfius Art Collection, Belfius Tower, museum space, 32nd floor


Pitched glazed roofs of the Belfius Tower, directors’ floor

Press Room with journalists’ booths, Paul-Henri Spaak building


VIP reception area at the top floor of the Paul-Henri Spaak building. Mural painting Miti del Mediterraneo by Aligi Sassu, 1993

36 Model of the European Parliament in the Visitors Centre


Lobby of the Press Conference room, European Parliament

40 The President’s Lobby at the European Parliament, Paul-Henri Spaak building


Listening Room adjacent to the meeting rooms at the Europa Building, Council of the European Union

46 Underground meeting room in Marnix I

Gordon Bunshaft’s precast concrete modules for the facade of Marnix I at the junction with Marnix II, its extension

This fifth issue of Accattone explores photography as a means to question major architecture. It also attempts, in continuity with issue 4, to understand architecture in its overlapping of many strata of power relations, geological and economic formations, infrastructure networks, collective rituals and stylistic expressions. In this respect it insists on the idea that critical and creative work can perform displacements and distortions of the established narratives, and can provoke new readings of built situations without altering their physical substance.

1 Corporate Arcadia. Built Brussels After 1989. CIVA Foundation, Contemporary Architecture Department (Cédric Libert). Brussels, 23 June!–!24 Sept 2017. The exhibition then travelled to TU Delft, Corporations and Cities programme (Herman Vande Putte), 7–31 Dec 2017.

The idea that constructional details may have poetic implications and that they may compensate for the inevitable misinformation that, by definition, arises from the extensive use of partial photographic images regardless of their size are both concepts that have been largely ignored by the editors of architectural journals over the past two decades.

Kenneth Frampton, ‘A Note on Photography and Its Influence on Architecture’, Perspecta 22 (1986), p. 40

The starting point of this investigation lies in a previous experience which led from Accattone #4 to the curatorship of the exhibition Corporate Arcadia, commissioned last year by the CIVA Foundation in Brussels.1 The series of 57 pictures by Armin Linke that open this issue comes straight from his contribution to the exhibition. They were taken over a few days of intense visits in May 2017, during which it was possible to get acquainted with his methods and scopes. Although it wasn’t new for Accattone to use photography as the main constituent of a content, it was the first time that it would be used to produce a content from scratch on such a large scale. Four other photographic series by Armin Linke complete the major body of this issue. A conversation with the artist (p. 96) and two texts by guest contributors foster the reading of his subjects in relation to architecture and its culture. In ‘Fade to Grey’ (p. 64), Ido Avissar offers an architectural perspective on the buildings featured in Corporate Arcadia, tracing a line between the ‘grey’ modernism of post-war office architecture in the US and the corporate architecture that populates cities worldwide: can postmodernism also be ‘grey’, despite its exuberant party dress? Apparently yes: a neutral, techno-quiet space can be found behind the mask that the building wears on the outside—façades which, significantly, were never shot by Armin Linke from the street, the only façades of the series being those of the models retrieved in lobbies and waiting areas. In ‘Athens as Underground Arcadia’ (p. 124), Aristide Antonas analyses the strata that form the city both physically and conceptually. His text reveals the complex, pathological interplay of the visible and the absent, the oxymoron of a ‘constructed ruin’ resulting from the projection of a political vision onto the very matter of the city; whence the impossibility of Athens to simply be itself. The Bavarian kings who colonized the city in the nineteenth century re-invented its Hellenic past, inscribing their kingdom in this

legitimacy and sustaining the artificial assumption of a shared ‘Western’ culture (a Romantic leitmotif). In the new capital, modernization and archaeology proceeded hand in hand, digging and digging. Some 100 years later, the neo-liberal economy has developed an immaterial infrastructure of data and debts that leaves this modern project impossible to complete: the wind has changed. As regularly happens within Accattone, Antonas’s text turns back to other contents of the series; first to Tirana, in issue #4, especially in relation to the major architecture of its main institutions and their ‘Strata’; then to Brussels itself, where it resonates with the reading of the problematic relation between the European institutions and the city formulated by Rem Koolhaas: the ‘toxic mix’ of Europe’s inability to represent itself and Brussels’ traumatic experience of modernization led to the disastrous implantation of EU buildings in the city. In his lecture ‘La prise de l’Europe’ at Bozar in Brussels in 2003 – video-re-enacted at the exhibition – Koolhaas gave evidence of this ‘genealogy of a trauma’ by crossing the timeline of the city’s major transformations with that of the pressure groups fighting against them. The slides suggest how easily political stubbornness turned into a psychosis against contemporary architecture. Corporate Arcadia, the exhibition, specifically addressed this situation, namely the corporate architecture of banking headquarters, office buildings and hotels that mostly shaped the city of Brussels in the 1990s and early 2000s. It did so, not with the declamatory tones of Koolhaas’s lecture, but rather in an exploratory mode, suspending judgement so as to gain a deeper understanding of the subject. Indeed, this focus expressed a political stance in itself: these buildings are very much present in the city, shaping its physical, visual, political and imaginary fabric, yet they are systematically disregarded by architecture culture, dismissed as unworthy and neglected. Some are about to be demolished, others restyled. Moreover, the architects who built them are better off with promoters and the building industry: they do not belong to the comfort zone of those practices which are grounded in architectural theory, much easier to exhibit because already wrapped in intellectual discourse. The choice of subject also responded to the immediate context of the exhibition: the CIVA Foundation, its past and its upcoming transformation into a major cultural centre in partnership with the Centre Pompidou. Corporate Arcadia confronted the parallel exhibition Save/Change the City, which presented the urban struggles that agitated Brussels between 1968 and 1989 (many of which concerned the transformation of residential neighbourhoods

into office space), as well as the active role played by some of CIVA’s constituent associations in the debate on architecture and the city (which in the past decades has had a strong impact on building regulations and accepted stylistic trends in Brussels). Tackling these issues with the methods explored in Accattone, the exhibition offered the opportunity to expand editorial practice into space—mirroring, in reverse, the ‘curatorial’ approach to the magazine format. The exhibition moved somewhere in-between. It consisted in a theatre of existing models, a wall display of pictures by Armin Linke, an A0-size book with more of his pictures, three videos and a 68-page magazine. Once the buildings crucial to the exhibition had been identified, the need to visit them with a photographer was raised by a simple observation: these buildings are only public in the outlook of their façades, but difficult to access given their privacy and security standards. The only images available of the inside are those that inhabit the publications produced to celebrate the building upon completion. They depict it in total agreement with the architects’ projections and the clients’ expectations: no distance whatsoever, just an everlasting, suspended state of grace. As such they couldn’t express in any ways the complex, multilayered identity of such buildings, which over the past 25 years have been used, sold and refurbished in a changing urban, cultural and political context. The idea to solicit a collaboration with Armin Linke was suggested by his work on institutional buildings. Il Corpo dello Stato aimed to visit all the institutions mentioned in the Italian Constitution, while Inside/Outside started from the Sciences Po library in Paris, which initiated the project, and went on to investigate several institutions that exert economic, political and cultural power in France (an extract from this series is published on p. 120).2 In regard to architectural photography commissioned by architects and media, his pictures offer a much deeper, contradictory and conflictual representation of architectural monuments, albeit fragmented and freed from the ambition of completeness. They reveal the overlapping of various semantic systems at stake in such buildings: architecture, interior design, social functions, hard and soft technology, art, nature, security devices. Few human figures – or their traces – suffice to represent the rituals sustained by the building. Typical, in this sense, is the series on the United Nations headquarters published here as fold-outs (p. 68). As he explains in the interview, part of Linke’s work consists in decoding and recoding these systems of signification, placing the camera so as to divert it from the codes that clearly dominate the others (architecture, most of the times). Collected in the magazine, the five photographic series show slightly different approaches to

2 Armin Linke, Il Corpo dello Stato (Zurich: JRP|Ringier 2010); Inside/ Outside (Amsterdam: Roma, 2015).

3 A theory of the glitch in photography was formulated by Simon O’Sullivan in relation to Gilles Deleuze’s Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation (1981) and Deleuze and Guattari’s Kafka: Toward a Minor Literature (1975). See his ‘From Stuttering and Stammering to the Diagram: Deleuze, Bacon and Contemporary Art Practice’, in Minor Photography: Connecting Deleuze and Guattari to Photography Theory, Mieke Bleyen ed. (Leuven: Leuven UP, 2012), pp. 3-16.

institutional architecture, which is also reflected in the graphic layout. Formats, light, balance, proximity to the subject, respect or disrespect of the subject’s frontality or symmetry, formal or casual standpoints. The minor approach to architecture consists in understanding how a situation wants to be pictured, then deliberately taking a different angle. Doing so makes it possible to raise the ‘voice’ of other codes usually perceived as incidental, at odds with the major narrative of the building, but which are nonetheless crucial to its identity. It leaves the viewer unsure whether these minor narratives, as we may call them, were willed by the designer, are an accident or are something projected upon reality by the photographer. Lurking in this method – at once poetic and materialistic, critical and creative – is a potential for photography to make major architecture minor: a glitch happens in the monument’s institution of authority.3 This operative friction is aesthetic just as it is political. It changes the established representations and in doing so it questions the values that they carry. It not only challenges the codes of architectural photography; it also challenges the very subject of the frame, the monument, disrupting its identity as it was intended by its commissioners and designers. In most cases it liberates the repressed, uptight character still believed to be the utmost expression of authority. In other cases it works in the opposite way: a control-freaked chaos which the authority of photography helps to assume. A major contribution of Armin Linke’s practice to architecture is the understanding that designed spaces embed the way they want to be portrayed, looked at, experienced and remembered. This view is then reinforced, countered, deviated by other events in the life of the building, or simply by the passing of time or change of cultural context—all elements which photography can use to reprogramme the building. When working on such complex constructs, architectural design can seize the sensitivity of this minor approach to embrace and make present all the strata at stake within a building: the visible, the invisible, the structural, the projected, the historic, the repressed, the ephemeral. Instead of clearing the building of these codes, removing the outmoded to make room for the fashionable, architecture could intervene to sustain and orchestrate them in a new, provisional configuration.


CORPORATE ARCADIA Built Brussels After 1989 Editors: Sophie Dars & Carlo Menon Designers: Ismaël Bennani & Orfée Grandhomme Publisher: CIVA Foundation, Brussels June 2017 68 colour pages 21x29cm


An essay by orthodoxe, ‘No One Ever Steps Into the Same River Twice’, on the parallel histories of Banque Lambert (Gordon Bunshaft, 1965) and its extension Marnix II (SOM, 1992). ‘Sophisticated Cabinet-making’, a conversation around Constantin Brodzki’s use of precast concrete units, from CBR (1970) to SWIFT I (1983) and SWIFT II (1989, made in collaboration with Ricardo Bofill). Nine points on Philippe Samyn’s ‘Technical Quest’ and engagement with the building industry. ‘Martini Lotto’, Cédric Libert’s press clippings about and against the demolition/reconstruction of two iconic towers in Brussels’ city centre.

Slides from Rem Koolhaas’s lecture ‘La prise de l’Europe’ (2003), from Ground Zero to Mini Europe. Lars Lerup’s ‘A Note on XDGA’s Public Projects in Brussels’, or how to make public space in corporate environments. The reprint of a rare interview to Manfredo Tafuri, ‘L’avvocato del diavolo’ (1986), on the place of the architect within urban development schemes, and of Dan Graham and Robin Hurst’s ‘Corporate Arcadias’ (1987), which triggered the exhibition’s main concept.

AG Fortis Headquarters, 48.000 m2 Belfius Tower, 120.000 m2 Berlaymont, 240.000 m2 Boudewijn building, 40.500 m2 Charlemagne building, 56.000 m2 Covent Garden building, 72.000 m2 Europa building, 71.000 m2 European Parliament, 500.000 m2 KBC Headquarters, 102.000 m2 Marnix II, 51.000 m2 Marquis building, 37.000 m2 Proximus Towers, 101.000 m2 Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, 22.000 m2

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 99.9% air-based substance, Pasadena, USA, 1999


1 Rem Koolhaas, ‘Junkspace’, October 100, Obsolescence (Spring 2002), p. 176.

This list of buildings totals more than one million square metres enclosed behind curtain walls, ventilated by air-conditioning systems and protected by a complex network of sprinklers, fire doors and security devices. These buildings are scattered across Brussels’ Northern and European districts and were built between 1989 and today. Their architecture is not specific to Brussels, since they have siblings in Zurich, Paris, Vienna and London, but their high level of concentration in the city that is the capital of Europe emphasizes a condition marked by a certain uncertainty as to whether the state has become a corporation or the corporation a state. Saying that they don’t have good press today would be an understatement. Armin Linke’s photographs of this somewhat mute architecture make it difficult to identify what binds these buildings together. This architectural corpus can more easily be defined by what it is not than by what it is. It is not really monumental, definitely not vernacular, not quite corporatist, not even entirely postmodernist, not clearly business-oriented, not without intentions, not totally junk, and definitely not ordinary. Linke’s pictures are nevertheless beautiful. They seem to diffuse a silent and equivocal force, difficult to grasp. They paradoxically communicate a certain level of serenity in a situation of uncertainty and in spaces that evoke a superposition of lobbies, meeting rooms and duty-frees, spaces of co-presence of different things, forces and intentions.

This series is time-framed by two buildings that at first glance seem out of place within this body of work: Gordon Bunshaft’s Banque Lambert from 1965 (which later became Marnix I, extended into a larger building in 1992) and Xaveer De Geyter’s Square Rogier, completed 50 years later (p.45-49, p.3, p.10). The two share evident similarities and affinities: a visible structure, suspended robustness, a certain degree of presence and monumentality in the urban fabric. It is highly tempting to throw all the other buildings, which seem to cruelly lack the qualities of the latter two, into some subcategory of junkspace and dismiss them from the history of architecture as specimens of postmodernist cacophony. After all, they constitute some kind of ‘perpetual Jacuzzi with millions of your best friends ... A fuzzy empire of blur, it fuses high and low, public and private, straight and bent, bloated and starved to offer a seamless patchwork of the permanently disjointed’.1 Brussels, known for being a city in which 20-year buildings might simply disappear, can also easily forget them. But the history of architecture is not just the history of masterpieces. It is also a history of the background, of seemingly worthless oeuvres that embed stories of their epoch. We can claim that we have a certain responsibility towards this architecture simply because it is there, because it represents for us, Europeans, our immediate collective past, and also simply because of its size, six or seven million square metres in Brussels alone.

Fade to Grey IDO AVISSAR


Fori Imperiali, Roma, Italy


Fori Imperiali, Roma, Italy


ARMIN LINKE We see architecture as a fixed set of elements, but it is also a space which we experience with our body, like with a tracking shot sequence or like dancers on a stage. I think this also reflects the way I make photographs: it is about deciding where to position my body, itself connected to the camera. It is about trying to look at architecture as a kind of screenplay, or as a storyboard for a spatial choreography.

can stand on their own. They do not speak only about the particular place, the person, the institution in the picture: they are not just documents, but also relate to wider processes, whether philosophical, poetic or social. This also explains why I display my work using different formats and sizes. Photographs have more than one layer. In a film it’s the sequence of shots that generates the understanding of a situation: wide angles and close-ups. With certain photos, this work of editing, of zooming in and out, is made by the viewer who moves around the picture frame, sees it from a distance, concentrates on one or other detail. Sometimes this kind of operation happens within a single picture, sometimes across several pictures exhibited together. I therefore compose a sequence to offer opportunities to make connections across the images or across details. That said, in doing so I try not to be didactical, but to use the sequence to create questions. A You say that there is always a disconnect between the original context of the picture and its position within an exhibition or a publication. You move around the pictures so as to let other layers of meaning appear.

European Central Bank, presentation of the new 5€ banknote, Archäologisches Museum, Frankfurt am Main, 10 Jan 2013

It is therefore difficult to engage with architecture with just one photograph. That is why I feel that a sequence is needed. In theatre photography you are expected to make several pictures of the performance. I started as a stage photographer, so maybe that fed into my work method. Also, in science laboratories there is always a logbook for recording the sequence of operations made during an experiment, step by step. The logbook is a legal document required to understand possible errors, to reproduce the experiment, to create scientific proof, to patent the process. It is also a very interesting form of narration: it’s all about the sequence of things. The photographic sequence works in this sense: a fluid, choreographic, theatrical succession of events.

AL Of course. For instance, in the magazine layout you have the double-page spread and the sequence. It’s more linear than an exhibition, where things are spread out. Here (see pp. 4-5) you have a painting by Paul Delvaux with a monument, on the left page, and on the right page, the interior of a building with an artwork on display. The lines of the window frame are mirrored by the monument in the painting; a person lying here and a person lying there; a painting containing architecture, and an artwork contained in architecture; the status of art in relation to architecture, and vice versa. Such combinations lead you to start asking questions.

ACCATTONE Does this mean that when you exhibit your work, the layout renders the movements of your body at the time when you took the pictures? AL No. The exhibition is a translated space that doesn’t need to reflect the space documented in the pictures, nor to respect their original sequence. The series contain pictures that Kawah Ijen Volcano Biau (Jawa Timur), Indonesia, 2016


Minor Perspectives CONVERSATION ON 17 NOVEMBER 2017



The National Library is part of the Athenian Trilogy programmed by Kleanthis and Schaubert in their first proposal for Athens as capital of the new Greek state back in 1832. The Athenian Trilogy – the University of Athens, the Academy and the National Library – was finalized much later, between 1864 and 1903, and it presents a striking similarity to the Munich ensemble of the Glyptothek. It was conceived and designed as a modern urban building complex built in the style of the time. Neoclassicism was a perfect opportunity for the kings of Greece to relate to what they understood as an indigenous element at the time. The library has now not only been emptied of books but also stripped of this symbolic power that enabled it to act as a mediator between cultures and as a symbol of the Bavarian and then Danish kings of Greece. Armin Linke was invited to record, in his own way, the limbo-like situation that characterizes the building: an erasure of its practical function, a mourning of this early modern Greek period, a reminiscence of declining book culture, and nostalgia for what Europe was meant to be. The building is now a standing ruin, not because it suffers from technical problems, but because it has been emptied of its contents and symbolism. This has happened at a time when Europe is under threat and book culture is endangered. We also asked Armin Linke, in a similar agenda of a gradual transformation of symbolism, to photograph the library of the Parliament, once the Royal Palace, in Syntagma Square. Elina Axioti


Amortisation Table of the Greek Debt, Library of the Hellenic Parliament


The director of the National Library of Greece, Filippos Tsimpoglou, in his oďŹƒce


Athens as Underground Arcadia ARISTIDE ANTONAS


ARCADIA AND DISAPPOINTMENT We marvel at Athens today with a sense of inquisitive wonder, as though faced with an indecipherable prophecy. Lacking a suitable decryption code, Athens remains condemned to speak with an emphatic voice about its European past and an insecure future, as if it were already speaking in the tongue that follows the age of Western man.

CONSTRUCTION OF RUINS A practice of emptying inaugurated the city fabric of the Greek capital in the nineteenth century. The small Ottoman town chosen by King Otto of Bavaria as the capital of the Kingdom of Greece in 1834 did not present an urban character at the time. A first inhabited part of it only contained the small Turkish centre on the Acropolis hill and an extension

The triangle materialized the city as the regulation of a reference to the Acropolis, the emblem of ancient Greece, the material performance of an origin. The materiality of Athens presents itself as a conundrum. At its core we find the history of the city’s modern construction: an underground space made of ruins and infrastructure. It is a conundrum written as a modern story, but which has lately been enriched by further narrative strands. As in the past, the city speaks today not with a single voice, but with a congregation of voices; it needs a mixing engineer to balance and compress its multiple vocalizations into a certain music. Athens embodies a conceptual scheme that describes the beginning and end of the West, a history of the North, and with them, the narratives of the East and South: yet again the city has put on the garments of the subordinate and, in the imagination of the once hegemonic West, the city has lost its symbolic matriarchic authority as well as its meaning, insofar as the West has increasingly ceased to recognize ancient Greece as an exceptional ancestor. The disappointing encounter with Greece and, one might say, the hasty and imprudent satisfaction with the construct of a halfmythical figure which Europe saw in modern Greece describe together (dissatisfaction and fulfilment) the same structure: that the possibility of a performance of modern Athens is based on the notion of a ‘correspondence’. With regard to the expectations and actual outcomes of a formerly heroic encounter, Athens and disappointment have become terms which fuse. For Europe, encountering the city in modern times, Athens has been orchestrated as an exercise in disappointment; its structure was determined by this particular temporality of disappointment. We know today that the promise of a revival of ancient Greece has not been fulfilled; and this, not only because modern Greece has failed to respond to an ancient legacy.

towards the north. Athens was at the time less important than Aegina, the first capital of modern Greece in 1826, or Nafplion, the second city that was announced as a capital in 1829. Athens was chosen to be the new states’ symbolic capital together with an emblematic urban plan by Stamatios Kleanthis and Eduard Schaubert that envisaged a first organization of a possible urban fabric through the tracing of a triangle. Later elaborated by Leo Von Klenze and reordered by Friedrich von Gaertner (who decided the definitive position of the Royal Palace on it), the triangle introduced a first geometry in the new city. Its particularity could be explained by the way in which the modern Athenian triangle relates to the Acropolis. Its three angles and the narration about the altering positions of the Royal Palace are important, but the most significant part of its geometry lies in the triangle’s sides and perpendicular bisectors, which trace an immediate relation between the newly planned capital and some ruins in a deserted landscape. A view towards the Acropolis is the most remarkable part of the plan. Odos Athinas organizes the most important perpendicular bisector, proposed to form (in the first Kleanthis and Schaubert plan) the Royal Palace view: the installation of an eye viewing the ruins. The triangle materialized the city as the regulation of a reference to the Acropolis, the emblem of ancient Greece, the material performance of an origin. This mythical source of European civilization would also serve to unify modern Greeks and the European kings. In other words, the Acropolis was invested with the role of a common origin of modern Greece and Hesperia (‘the western land’). The paradigmatic ensemble of ruins is not only a find but also a construction undertaken with the establishment of the capital. The new triangular city-field unified all political interpretations of ancient Greece to a common


viewing of a glorified ruin. To support this view a clarification was needed, which took the form of an architectural cleaning operation: the small houses and other buildings that formed the character of the Ottoman centre on the Acropolis were removed; a representation of the rock’s condition during Athens’ golden

the French, German, British and American archaeology schools that were excavating in Greece succeeded in producing in the city centre an idiosyncratic void, an absence, and at the same time the most stable presence of this missing, blind spot; in the place of the small town’s centre of 1834, an empty field

age was constructed as a piece of scenery. In Athens, the emptying is not a simple procedure that leads to a park-like tabula rasa. On the contrary, empty space frames and condenses a meaning: the Acropolis cannot escape even any inattentive observation of the new city. The most remarkable ‘modern Greek construction’ is the making of these ruins. And far from being a conscious, alternative answer to modernity or history, this operation is not here understood as an open question about a common Western past, but as the construction of a stable national reference. The construction of the Acropolis as ruin is the first act of a play that will then be repeated in different fragments of the city as an emptying procedure: the construction of an idealized, forever ruined but present phantom city condensing and stabilizing an idealized absence. The most extraordinary consequence of this operation is the emergence of struggling powers that permanently obstructed the formation of modern Greek identity: a buried, hidden identity shows the transcendental character of a missed self, and the repressed character of local everyday life.

of ruins is constructed. Seventeen foreign archaeological schools have their offices today in Greece, most of them in Athens. Towards the north of the Acropolis, a sown field (which we can observe in engravings) has made way for an extensively excavated area with a plethora of unidentified ruins. As fields of ruins replaced cultivated land, the state’s new neoclassical buildings, programmed and built on an urban scale, structured the city’s modern character. The trilogy in Panepistimiou Street (Library / University / Academy) and the Royal Palace on Syntagma Square are the most remarkable monuments of this royal gesture. For a part of modern Greek culture, neoclassicism was imported as a return to the core of the same Greek culture. Neoclassicism was then proposing a set of ‘new inhabitable ruins’. This appropriation and distortion of the universal to a local culture aptly describes the constant misunderstanding of modern Greece. The works on ruins are the most significant in this direction. They created an uncannily hospitable world. The imaginary projection of the ancient Agora took the place of a living neighbourhood. The Stoa of Attalos

The construction of the Acropolis as ruin is the first act of a play that will then be repeated in different fragments of the city as an emptying procedure: the construction of an idealized, forever ruined but present phantom city condensing and stabilizing an idealized absence.

Neoclassicism was then proposing a set of ‘new inhabitable ruins’. This appropriation and distortion of the universal to a local culture aptly describes the constant misunderstanding of modern Greece. We cannot understand many of the cultural phenomena of modern Greece if we do not consider this violent self-construction that had to deal with this gap as a strong dichotomy. During the years that followed the proclamation of Athens as the capital of the new state,


was built as a restoration by the American archaeological school with the help of John Travlos during the 1950s on the place of an existing neighbourhood. This material void, a landscape of ruins, would be asked to interpret the nexus of the modern Greek capital. It would be filled with the meaning of the new state’s

relation to the past. It would also create the symptom of an origin. A relation to the ground, the hidden values buried in the earth which have to be restored, and a concept of idealized past find their locus in the city of Athens. The city centre’s syntax serves as a function of memory, called on to refer to the purified, glorious past of a forgotten culture. MEMORY TRANSPLANT Modern Greek culture was founded on proof of its ‘past’. Thanks to scientific guidance by Greece’s allies, Greek archaeologists were taught by their French, German, British and American colleagues how to provide more proof of a lost and buried culture than what they had inherited. Material violence carried out with destruction was needed to uncover and rebuild these evidences. The new capital’s excavation could prove the position of Greece as Europe’s birthplace. Modern Greece was instituted more to facilitate this point of view than to contribute further. Greeks would be

because ‘it never occurred as such’. It is defined in this representation as a land of otherness par excellence; a land that was never itself, always described by what is missing. Such a definition of Greece excludes it from any right of definition per se; the identity of Greece would depend on a space that is always exterior to it; therefore it would be formed from the start as an intrinsic problem of identity. ‘There is no place for an “imitation of ancient Greece”’, as Lacoue-Labarthe puts it. Missing from the ruin-generating process that constituted modern Athens is a neo-Hellenic reading. This a-topical concept of Greece happens between a practical side of building in neoclassical style and the structure of an idealized absence where Greece cannot be repeated, touched or even defined. In the new Greek state, ancient culture serves to stabilize a solid symbolic reference of this untouchable element; a traditional stable ‘self’ is produced with material from the West. We may attest a double move in this national construction of the self represented by modern Athens: the

Athens is a zombie city where the dead are more important than the living and where the description and traces of the life of the dead are the best description that the city could undertake for its own definition. proved ex principio to be the followers of this ancient glorious past. They would learn about it and could honour this past proclaimed as their own. They would only have to distinguish the gold from the waste hidden in the Athenian ground. This earth was obscuring their view towards this precious but buried matter that belonged to them and defined them: their land simply needed to be ‘uncovered’, examined and cleansed. Modernity was introduced in Greece as a return; this condition seems to name a paradoxical operation of memory transplant that ruled the city fabric at its core. This mnemonic operation was recorded while architecture in the West solidified decisively its most official stance in the form of neoclassicism. Neoclassicism places us already in the frame of a technology of remembering: it redistributes in this period Roman and Greek architecture as a trend. Archaeology operates in parallel to this structuring of history announced as building it anew. In his text ‘Hölderlin and the Greeks’, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe claims that we can connect Greece to otherness through Hölderlin. Greece is the country of the foreign element. Furthermore, Greece cannot be imitated

first is the constitution of an estranged self that produces this reference to a stabilized past; the second (already at stake while the first is being deployed) concerns the work of identification with this emblematized, immobile figure of the ancient Greek subject. The monumentalization of ancient Greek culture inscribed in the construction of the ruin fields in Athens marks an impasse to the culture of otherness that is intrinsic to the modern character of Europe following LacoueLabarthe. The concept of the other that serves as a guiding leitmotif of modern European culture is missing in this local construction of the self that is received from a different frame and from an a-topic construction. The abstract figure of the foreigner as such, although it remains important in European modernism, is the victim of Greek modernization. For Europeans, Greece not only forms a space of origin, but also presents a space of otherness. Greece is a place of origin but in this sense does not leave room for a settler to be installed as a permanent inhabitant; Hesperian Greece corresponds to a text written in foreign characters to be interpreted, translated and transformed. Modern Greece as a symptomatic space of origin cannot be


Based entirely on the work of Armin Linke, Accattone #5 explores photography in relation to the major architecture of public and private institutions: the infrastructure of the Roman Empire, neoclassical Athens, the United Nations headquarters, neo-liberal corporate environments and the fragile European institutions in Brussels. Monuments are carefully crafted to convey determined sets of aesthetic codes and political values, incorporated in a purportedly eternal and total character. Photography can challenge the power of such representations by bringing out their inherent glitches, small cracks and everyday ambiguities. It can reprogramme architecture. CONTRIBUTORS Armin Linke was born in Milano in 1966 and lives in Berlin. As a photographer and filmmaker he analyses the formation, the ‘Gestaltung’ of our natural, technological and urban environment, perceived as a diverse space of continuous interaction. His photographs and films function as tools to become aware of the different design strategies. Through working with his own archive, as well as with other media archives, Linke challenges the conventions of photographic practice, whereby the questions of how photography is installed and displayed become increasingly important. In a collective approach with artists, designers, architects, historians and curators, narratives are procured on the level of multiple discourses. He was Research Affiliate at MIT Visual Arts Program Cambridge, guest professor at the IUAV Arts and Design University in Venice and professor for photography at the University for Arts and Design Karlsruhe. Ido Avissar (1972) is an architect and urbanist who has concentrated for many years on urban, architecture and research projects, pursuing a neutral position. Neutrality does not mean compliance but maximum receptivity. A quest for an accurate interaction with the present, attentive and non-arrogant. In 2012, he founded LIST, a Paris-based office, which aims to position itself between disciplines rather than within a set framework. Ido Avissar is professor at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Versailles and at the Berlage, Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban Design, since 2013. He is completing his PhD in architecture entitled Intensities of the Neutral.

Elina Axioti (1981) is an architect, independent curator based in Berlin and Athens and scholar of Onassis Foundation. She is the director of the Architecture Syndicate, a platform about architecture and the arts. She was member of the editorial and design collectives Froater Magazine, Campanas Workshop, Lamb and Lamp, KAM Workshops and received the NEON Curatorial Award. Aristide Antonas’s work spans philosophy, art, literature and architecture. He published novels, short stories, theatre scripts and essays. His art and architecture work has been featured among other places in Istanbul Design biennial, Venice biennale, Sao Paulo biennale, Display Prague, the New Museum in New York and had solo institutional presentations in Basel’s Swiss Architecture Museum, in Austria’s Vorarlberger Architektur Institut and in the French FRAC. He won the ArchMarathon 2015 prize for his Open Air Office, was nominated for a Iakοv Chernikov Prize (2011) and for a Mies Van der Rohe Award (2009) for his Amphitheater House. He works as a Professor of Architectural Design and Theory and directs the Master’s Program on Architectural design at the University of Thessaly, Greece. Aristide has been a visiting tutor in the Bartlett UCL and a visiting professor of Literature at the Frei Universität in Berlin.

Accattone explores minor practices in art and architecture through the specific means of the printed magazine. As an exhibition on paper, each issue is a montage of contributions whose shared positions towards reality, history and representation resonate with one another. In the current landscape of non-commercial publications, Accattone’s originality lies in the strong visual orientation and in the close association of methods, editorial devices and featured contents. Through these experiments, crossing the methods of artists-as-iconographers with emerging architectural practices, Accattone addresses critically a fundamental aspect of thinking and practice: the working document and the changing status of the image.

magazine on architecture Issue 5, March 2018 Editors: Sophie Dars & Carlo Menon Design: Ismaël Bennani & Orfée Grandhomme Copy-editing: Patrick Lennon Special thanks: Silvia Cappellari, Carlo Goncalves, Tatsuya Inuikawa, Armin Linke Studio (Giulia Bruno, Elena Capra, Ferial Nadja Karrasch, Kati Simon) CIVA Foundation (Cédric Libert, Pieter Van Damme, Francelle Cane, Tania Isabel Garduño Israde, Marcelline Bosquillon, Jacques de Neuville), TU Delft (Herman Vande Putte), all the institutions that welcomed the projects and made them possible. Accattone Rue du Conseil 28/6 B-1050 Brussels Printed in Belgium by Graphius ISSN 2295-6255 05 9 772295


25€ LIMITED EDITION A box with Accattone #5 and five 24x30cm photographic prints by Armin Linke is available through our website. Edition of 30 + 5 AP (signed, unframed)

This magazine is published by Accattone asbl/vzw, a non-profit organisation registered in Belgium (BE 0550.585.163) © the editors and the featured authors. All rights reserved.

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