Body and Building: essays on the changing relation of body and architecture. . – Rykwert’s Apotheosis

Body and Building: essays on the changing relation of body and architecture. . – Rykwert’s Apotheosis – book review

Boaz Ben Manasseh

Edited by George Dodds and Robert Tavernor. London: MIT Press. 2002. [pounds sterling]37.95

Last December I found myself ranting here about conference papers being sold on to the public in the form of overpriced, over-designed and over-inflated volumes which are essentially a kind of vanity publishing. I am glad to say that the culprit I had then in mind, the MIT Press, has now produced another post-conference volume which is very much more worthwhile. A symposium called Body and Building was held at the University of Pennsylvania in 1996 in honour of Joseph Rykwert, and this publication now marks Rykwert’s 75th birthday. The papers have been expanded, and others have been added, and the professor is being offered something that certainly does him justice.

It should be said also that the calibre of the contributors is well above that of the previous book. There is here a really fine and memorable essay called ‘The Foreigner’ by Richard Sennett, which explores the nature of the boundaries of personal and national identity. It does not, however, have much to do with the general subject of the book, which is the anthropological, psychoanalytical and Italianizing critique of architecture that Rykwert has successfully and often subtly and wittily promoted, and which English architectural criticism, and the AR in particular, has been absolutely unconcerned with. So, Sennett’s piece aside, there is nothing at all on the nineteenth century, because its critics (according to Rykwert) have contributed to the ‘poverty of much city discourse’. If you like this sort of thing, you will love this. The inimitable Dalibor Vesely comes on and does his thing. There are some enjoyable pieces, including those by John Onians and David Leatherbarrow, and some entertainment by Marco F rascari; and inevitably, in this school of criticism, a number of essays which seem to be very complicated ways of saying nothing.

COPYRIGHT 2002 EMAP Architecture

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group