Blurred Boundaries: Where does art end and architecture begin?



Blurred Boundaries: Where does art end and architecture begin?


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Blurred Boundaries: Where does art end and architecture begin?

A talk at the Royal Institute of British Architects


Corinne Mynatt, RIBA Curator


Alex Coles, The Transdisciplinary Studio

Dr Catharine Rossi, Kingston University

Sam Jacob, Sam Jacob Studio

Mariana Pestana, V&A


On 11th October the Royal Institute of British Architects opened its doors to host a discussion on the new ways that creative practitioners are working together today. The disciplinary boundaries between art, architecture and design keep collapsing. We’ve seen architects win art prizes, artists design products and designers build bridges. Art provides architects with experimental freedom and architecture provides artists with new material. So, in a world where boundaries are constantly being broken down, as much as they are being built up, what does this mean for artists?

My brother, a current architecture student, suggested that we might attend this discussion together – an “artist” and an “architect” aptly attending a talk together that would explore the relationship between our two disciplines. And so, I, with my formal training in art, stepped over a boundary to the “other” side and found myself in the Head Quarters of British Architects – interestingly, an act not many of my fellow practitioners followed as there was only one other “artist” in a room of perhaps 150 people (who just so happened to define themselves as “architects”).

For those of us who are more artistically inclined, our minds may automatically jump to the collective Assemble when we read the words architecture and art in the same sentence – and sure enough, within the first slide, our Turner Prize winning friends were discussed, albeit briefly. Or perhaps we might consider Grayson Perry’s ‘House for Essex’ of which one of its two masterminds, the founder of FAT Architecture Sam Jacob, was present. Numerous projects from artists/architects such as Olafur Elaisson, Gordon Matta Clark and Theaster Gates (to name but a few!) were discussed in which the definitions of art and architecture were stretched and bent and mished and mashed to create a thing of disciplinary statelessness.

Our relationship to disciplinarity, understanding of boundaries and our need to define ourselves is called into question. Does our blurring of boundaries mean a disregard of difference? Are we all just ignoring what we should be doing in the hope that we can escape definition and transcend our own practice? Is it just about rebellion? Or have we realised that having a dual/multi/trans/post-disciplinary way of working can only make a certain type of work that can’t be achieved through a monogamous attitude? In fact, for boundaries to be broken, do we not need to have boundaries to break?

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