A.I.R.

A collaborative project by
Katleen Vermeir & Ronny Heiremans

Date: Tue, 19 Jun 2007 10:22:02 GMT
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A.I.R extension#07/lecture-performance with Peter Swinnen

RH: We defined our house as our art piece. This apartment or this loft however does not look like art, the refurbishment is nothing exceptional. There is no Gregor Schneider, or Kurt Schwitters in there.

We are making 'extensions' of the house, like this lecture for example, a website, etc... through it the house is visible in a certain way. For us it is a comment on how architecture is visible in the media.

Peter can you comment on this?

PS: Art and architecture used to be one in the past, but now the relation is different. Art can blow up architecture in a way. Architecture can exploit art, for architecture art can facilitate something. Art itself is free, free to be negative. Art can be subversive, it can focus on the impossibilty of things. Architecture should be positive and constructive, it is about the possibilities of things.

RH: To continue about this subversive point of view: for our next extension we work together with a notary. We want to offer shares on our private house, sell 49% of our house in shares. The notary said that this is not possible legally and se said our bank will also make trouble. She explained the bank have our property deed, as an insurance for the money we own them. They can use it to get back their money. And she said also the insurance will make trouble, because in the scenario of many owners, who is accountable?

She thought about it for a while and came up with 'Beveks'. This is a way to invest money in real estate, but is usually used for office and apartment blocks, but not for private apartments. She looks now for legal possibilities and for ways to protect us from what we want. If we sell 49 % of the house, we make a separation between naked property and fruits of usage. In this way you can keep 51% of your house and have lot of money on top of this to do other things with.

For people who are interested in buying such shares, it is an interesting investment, and for people who live in such a house it could be an interesting kind of social housing project.

PS: For me this is very subversive, I am now inside your house and it is like a paradise here. It is such a nice place, there is a great view from the roof garden, in a way for me it means perfect happiness. You have everything and for me it is subversive because you take it now apart. The idea of opening up this perfect happiness, dismantle it to be able to do other things with the money it could bring. In a way you chase yourself from paradise. When Katleen told me some time ago that this house could be an art project I was very surprised. For me I think it can become a pastiche when artists try to transform art in a living space, because it can never compete with the real thing which is architecture. But in this case when the house becomes a base for extensions it can be a piece of art, but for me not the house itself can be art.

KV: It is funny to hear from you that we chase ourselves from paradise...

It reminds me of Gordon Matta-Clark who received very emotional reactions when he was cutting open houses, but then those houses were already ready for demolition. So in a way the houses were already de-humanised and it was not that destructive or subversive anymore.

But in this house and in this proposition we are eating away our own house.

We were also thinking about speculation on the house. For example in the images we just saw projected here, there was an image or a work we did where you see the house is looking out onto the sea. This is of course a fiction. It is connected to the idea of selling architecture, making it look more beautiful and interesting in images than it actually is.

PS: Yes, it is a fiction. I don't see the sea outside of the windows here...

It is a speculation, and also the certificates are speculative.

But I have one question: how do you want to present this work with the certificates? Do you want to frame this certificate and hang it on the wall? This would be like an image of the speculation, instead of speculation itself. For the sake of art. It should stay intangible for me in a way.

KV: Yes I agree, we are not going to issue a beautiful certificate, or even an ordinary one for that matter to frame it. We were reading about a lot of art institutes doing this however to raise money and artists are asked to make drawings on it.

RH: We want to use our house as a space and as a place. It is about the idea of residence. Where is your home? And it is funny because I can even feel at home right now because of the phone, while talking to you. Our project is named A.I.R. This name derives from 60ies New York, where artists had to put an A.I.R. placard on the door of the abandoned warehouses they used as studios, in order for the firefighters to see there were people inside. And now artist -in -residence has come to mean something very different. While in residence at Platform Garanti in Istanbul we met Christodoulos Panayiotou who invited us together with Alessandra Swiny to do this lecture. During that residency we became more and more aware of the potential of A.I.R to work collaboratively with all kinds of people and share our house, not literally, but in metaphorical way with people. And at this moment we are sharing our house with you, the audience, and with Peter, who is now inside or house, or isn't he? Peter, thanks a lot for this conversation and your collaboration on this project. Buy.

PS: It's my pleasure, buy!

RH: We can now listen again to Le Corbusier talking about a moment when he decided to place his signature on a house he designed, to protect it as an art work from the bankers and the notaries, who wanted to demolish it.

(sound fragment Le Corbusier)

RH:Are there any questions?

Audience: I have one comment on selling the rights of the house. This has implications: When you sell the rights of the house, you are also selling what happens to the house and inside the house. Selling the rights would change your art work. The relation of the inside and the outside, the public and the private. In a way you would give up authorship. The authorship of the house and the authorship of the work of art...


in collaboraton with Peter Swinnen for a lecture series curated by Alessandra Swiny and Christodoulos Panayiotou, Intercollege, Nicosia (CY). Produced by Ltd.Ed.vzw, co-produced by Intercollege

Peter Swinnen is one of the founding architects of 51N4E in Brussels, together with Freek Persyn and Johan Anrys.

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