Gonçalo Sena: The Pavilion and the Column / Two models of architectural and sculptural production

Mentor: Doreen Mende

Independent reviewer: Rodney LaTourelle

Arnhem, June 2011


In creating a conceptual conjuncture between two model typologies – the pavilion and the column – this paper is an attempt to reflect on the question of agency provided by objects, as a mode, a way for space to become. The focus goes towards an idea of disciplinary dissolution of architecture and sculpture, not in resuming them as one, but rather in exploring the valencies and faculties of each, both produced as one same gesture. I find a theoretical account for this, by questioning the structure of Rosalind Krauss' Expanded Field diagram, namely its concept of "axiomatic structure", which alludes to a hybrid categorization derived from works that strangely provoke what we perceive as an architectural experience, and that I elaborate by reflecting on one of Dan Graham's pavilions. My claim is that this concept, in defining what operates between architecture and not-architecture, can eventually stand on its own, becoming expanded and complex, as a reflection of contemporary sculptural practices. To further develop this idea, I go through one of Manfred Pernice's public space interventions, the Denkmal- u. Freizeitanlage Y.E.S. (Ü), speculating the typologies of the pavilion and the column that the work imbeds, leading to a paradox of place and displace,  through a dialectical process together with the notion of production. How to produce place in space? How does typology help in unfolding the projection of an object?
As well as in my own practice, and largely through modes of creating a close relation with architecture, I'm interested in exploring the possibilities and frustrations that objects permit, in understanding where things come from, and ultimately, what they allow to become. The pavilion and the column are conceptual models that serve a proposal to deconstruct these premises, leaving open the possibility of a relative autonomy of things, as a mode of fragile relation between object and human, where monument can become modesty. The suggestion of a relative autonomy is not focused in the object per se, as a purely autonomous significance in itself, but instead, as a possibility for it to function as a strategic tool of power, to activate and be activated, to perform and be performed – objects as potential standing events. After going through these suggestions, I finish with the supposition that the conception and production of 'object as a model' may allow to disrupt space differently, producing place; like with the analogous enactment between the metaphoric openness of the pavilion and the opaqueness of the column, it suggests more the means than the ends.