Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Zaha vs New York Review of Books

Thankfully I'm not drowning in the technicalities of this case, and I'm certainly not going to comment on the particulars, because I don't know them (not even read it); although I do note the author has (last night) retracted. But as an interested blogger who thinks this could be a landmark issue which will soon be swept under the carpet, here's a view.
The opinion in question is contained in a review of Rowan Moore's book 'Why We Build?' With a title like that I'm assuming the book and the review might contain some thorny discussion. It is not called 'How We Build?'; it implies moral questioning.
The review is an American review of a UK writer's book. Meanwhile all sorts of International (Americanish) architectural companies go fishing for work that involves the employment of incredibly poorly paid and unorganised construction labour across the middle east where people die.
There's always one smart arse student who chirps up in my Critical Readings course; usually when discussing slavery in the Third Reich; they say that 'it's always happened!' 'Look at Ancient Egypt!' they say; 'Look at the pyramids!!'
The point is that was then and this is now. You don't get here without revolution and organised labour and human rights and all that, and as Trotsky pointed out; you cannot just append what the west's gilded do dads to essentially feudal situations without asking for trouble.
So much for globalisation then. Zaha feels singled out here, and you can imagine her being especially pissed; all of this could kind of stick in your throat- as a native Iraqi- amidst the Middle Eastern shit storm the consequence of...er...?? (ask yourselves) Especially when her practise has gone out of it's way to comment on the worker issue as opposed to remaining silent. Whether one agrees or not with Hadid director Patrik Schumacher on the subject of 'content' in architecture (an appropriately post modern view) he at least articulates it so that some of us can disagree.

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