PERHAPS IT IS HIGH TIME FOR A XENO-ARCHITECTURE TO MATCH

“Perhaps it is high time for a xeno-architecture (of knowing) to match” is the second last sentence from Armen Avanessian’s preface to Markus Miessen’s publication Crossbenching. Intrigued by the neologism “xeno-architecture” and curious about its progressive potential for spatial practice, we set up a framework in collaboration with Alice Haddad and challenged Miessen and Avanessian to collaborate on further developing the “xeno” and investigate how it could be thought of in relation to architecture. However, besides merely being an enquiry into new forms of designing, structuring, and occupying space that might better deal with abstract structures on a global scale—beyond the tangible and physical—Perhaps It Is High Time should be conceived of as an exercise in stretching current humanistic understandings of rationality and knowledge so that it also becomes inclusive of risk, uncertainty, and the unknown.

The research for the project followed two paths: it consisted of a series of estafette conversations with philosophers, designers, and a poet expert in the field of human rights that took place both live and via Skype between February and April 2017 and are compiled in a publication (ed. Armen Avanessian, Lietje Bauwens, Wouter De Raeve, Alice Haddad, and Markus Miessen, Sternberg Press, 2018); it also involved a performative event in Het Kaaitheater in Brussels on April 18, 2017. Based on the idea that a genuine “new” future can only be constructed when one’s rational knowledge apparatus becomes open to indeterminacies and contingencies, “blind spots” were intentionally injected into the thinking processes. By intertwining theory and praxis and proposing the “xeno” as a (curatorial) methodology for various cultural productions, our collaborative inquiry slowly evolved into a research laboratory and “xeno-test case” in and of itself, exposing both the necessity and limits of speculation.

Website: www.perhapsitishightimeforaxenoarchitecturetomatch.org

Supported by: The Arts and Heritage Agency of the Flemish Community, Creative Industries Fund NL, The Ministry of the Government of the Brussels-Capital Region responsible for Mobility and Public Works

Partners: Het Kaaitheater, Het Bos, Workspacebrussels

With contributions by: Armen Avanessian, Benjamin H. Bratton, Kathleen Ditzig, Daniel Falb, Anke Hennig, Victoria Ivanova, Metahaven, Markus Miessen, Luciana Parisi, and Patricia Reed