Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Kitsch Architecture (D. Guimaraens & L. Cavalcanti)

"The survey of Kitsch architecture has been a matter of our interest since 1973, when we started studying at the school of architecture. In juxtaposition to academic teaching, which focused only in official architectural production - and among that, only in maximum examples such as the MEC building and Brasilia -, confronting our own previous experiences as occasional dwellers of the carioca suburbia. Here we had detected a sort of architectural manifestation quite rich and original, which, besides its potential to throw at us new sources of discussion on the parameters of contemporary Brazilian architecture, remained unknown at a more systemic level of research, being disregarded as a cultural phenomena without importance. We confirm that the main relevance of this work states in an attempt of a deep analysis of those manifestations, in order to establish a base for the study of architecture without architects in Brazil.

As we started said analysis, we found that a basic mistake would be to classify as bad taste the cultural productions inherent to other social classes. In this train of thought, one of the main issues was about the general denominations that we should adopt for these architectural manifestations. We chose to call them Kitsch architecture taking into account two aspects. Firstly, the fact that the analysed constructions represented special and aesthetic characteristics that could perfectly be framed between the general definition of Kitsch. Secondly, because of the verification that the concept was already reasonable known and clarified, so we could use it as a starting point for the discussion of basic elements which we intended to approach, such as taste, for example.

Until then, Kitsch had been established in relation to a rampant consumption of objects, which never occurs in the examples that we will focus on, where the inhabitant creates his or hers space of residence working as a creator of architectural signs. It was necessary thus to establish a basic division between passive Kitsch and creative Kitsch. We classify Kitsch architecture of the ascending lower classes as creative, because we understand that those manifestations differ from the ones found in the new-money groups, where the consumer lacks of interference in the elaboration of his or hers surrounding objects.

[...] we organised the subdivision of Kitsch architecture into some representative items of the various found types: Kitsch as a vision of the world (houses that aim to "talk" about the vision of their owners through their spacial structure); Kitsch as a poetic vision (which has as a dominant element the poetic aspect expressed in the architectonic space); visionary Kitsch (included in this subdivision those houses which extrapolate any rational interpretation, covering also another classifications); religious Kitsch (considering housing in which iconic references to protective Saints are given in their façades, to those constructions made under the protection of certain entities, in which all the structure gains a symbolic sense); Kitsch with influence of modern architecture (including a considerable group of Kitsch architecture, which takes from Brazilian modern architecture a variety of constructive-spatial elements, adapting them to its constructors and inhabitants own repertoire)".

Guimaraens, D. & Cavalcanti, L. (1979) Arquitetura Kitsch suburbana e rural. Mec/Funarte: Rio de Janeiro. pp 5-6.

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