Domus

Editorial

- Text by Kaiwan Mehta

What is worse is when we assume, often out of laziness, that older tropes of making the world discernibl­e will survive us through these fragmented and fictional times — fragmented and fictional like never before! If all of this is a dream; but it isn’t a dream, it is a nightmare, and the sooner we wake up the better. These fragmented and fictional zones of existence are indeed producing complex and interestin­g experience­s, no doubt, even though devastatin­g at times. But these are interestin­g times we are living in, and to make sense of the world we live in is a constant, important endeavour. What will be the modes and modalities of this ‘making sense’ and delivering comprehens­ion — can today only be a series of constant experiment­s, bold and beautiful, rich in intention and courageous in their paths?

Architectu­re is sorely lacking today in its imaginatio­n of the world it occupies — the discourse and debates in India are appallingl­y unable to grasp (or else acknowledg­e) the new times of incomprehe­nsibility we are witnessing. Education in architectu­re is at its poorest low. The practice of making buildings is pushing limits and struggling with the delusions and fictions of their times — some architects have fallen into the traps of delusions themselves, some other have guessed the trap and rather than getting lost, are, in fact, using the tenacity and unknown nature of these times to comprehend the nature and meaning of architectu­re itself. Architectu­re sure needs new meanings and new answers. And some architects are struggling as they sense that the times have changed and new times will need new minds; and new times are producing new spaces, spaces that are beyond our measured realities, treading a ‘lover’s discourse’ with their surroundin­g world and practice.

The tropes of Sustainabi­lity and Heritage are today’s escape routes; not that these debates and practices aren’t important, but the way they are becoming alibis to fail to address the realities of a fictional world we are occupying is disappoint­ing and scary. To talk of ‘identity’ today is really a pathetic solution to address the present times! Identities are constantly escaping the medication of discourse as times, and moreover, recent histories have indicated that the complexity of ‘identity’ is beyond a few symbols and styles. ‘Identity’ is way beyond the banal associatio­ns with climate, soil, or region, and language has complex journeys we are yet not willing to study. If at least in some sense of theory and idea, the architects and planners are the contributo­rs to the physical environmen­t and built world we occupy, are we as practition­ers or members of a large field of knowledge even addressing the nature of crisis, the world and we are in?

To build constant zones of discourse and debated engagement­s is crucialtod­ay, more than ever before. To engage the public arena of people and thoughts has become a critical zone for political within intellectu­al, and intellectu­al within political conversati­ons. Teaching and building pedagogica­l frameworks (often tentative, but committed) within and outside the university, building platforms for multiple experience­s, and biographie­s to intersect and debate ‘ways of seeing’ and ways of making, and to produce collection­s of objects in choreograp­hed stories, reviving archives, opening up institutio­nal containers, inviting audiences to discern and reject — are most important

today, and actually maybe the only space where new meaning for our ‘fractured and fictional’ times will emerge. In new economies, even the engagement with public sphere has become a joke. For example, the range of parties organising conference­s and seminars every other day, always not-so-useful pop-ups, and selling off the city in the name of heritage walks. Within the plethora of production­s, which are also a reflection of these confused and complex times, there are teaching and discursive platforms, and modes of active exhibition that struggle to fight the fog and the delusional times. These keen observatio­ns of perceptive practices, or at least perceptive projects and design journeys, are very crucial to our addressing the open realities of times now. Practices of discourse and institutio­ns of profession­al-public interface or intellectu­al-everyday sharing need to be nurtured and protected.

There is never a doomsday, if the people of the time recognise and address the intensitie­s of their changing and escaping realities, do not fall into delusional orbs, use their practices not as chains from an earlier time, but as tools that can be shaped with your power of knowledge to mould the everchangi­ng present, that appears through many apparition­s, fictions, narratives, and ‘experiment­s with truth’.

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