Sunday, 23 January 2011

On D. Libeskind being kitsch

"'Have you seen theTimes yet?' she asked. 'Get it, get it, get it.'

It was early in the morning and I wasn’t quite awake. Yet.

In the Times, it turned out, Herbert Muschamp had offered 'an appraisal' of the two finalists [for the Gound Zero project]. 'Taken together as a kind of shotgun diptych,' he wrote, 'the two designs... illustrate the confusion of a nation torn between the conflicting impulses of war and peace.' Shotgun diptych?

'Daniel Libeskind’s project for the World Trade Center site is a startlingly aggressive tour de force, a war memorial to a looming conflict that has scarcely begun. The THINK team’s proposal, on the other hand, offers an image of peacetime aspirations so idealistic as to seem nearly unrealizable.

'While no pacifist, as a modern-day New Yorker I would like to think my way to a place beyond armed combat. ... [The THINK design] is an act of metamorphosis. It transtforms our collective memories of the twin towers into a soaring affirmation of American values.' [...]

I went back to reading. Muschamp was not remotely finished. He derided my attempt as a 'predictably kitsch result.' Whoa. That’s as low a blow as you can deliver in architecture criticism—to call something kitsch. You can say a design is ugly. That it is impractical. You can even say it’s a rip-off of another design. But don’t ever call it kitsch."

Libeskind, Daniel (2004) Breaking Ground. Adventures in Life and Architecture. New York, Riverhead Books, pp 167-168.

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