Archiwik.org is a new online wiki being launched in November 2016 as part of the Galway, Ireland arts festival TULCA.
A collaboration between New York-based artist Mark Orange and Belfast-based writer, curator and artist Daniel Jewesbury, Archiwik defines as its area of focus a post-Bataillian conception of architecture and urbanism, taking as its starting point the French writer Georges Bataille's (1897-1962) celebrated article 'Architecture', first published in the journal Documents in 1929.
Bataille's article stressed the ability of architecture to carry metaphorical meaning: writing primarily of the monumental cathedrals and palaces of the French church and state, he pointed out how architectural form itself can act as proxy for these institutions in ordering and prohibiting behavior. Architecture has the ability to manifest social hierarchy and political power, but can also affect and convey that power to those that walk in its shadow. Architectural monuments "speak and impose silence on the multitudes".
Bataille sought to escape architecture's injunctions by giving form itself the slip. The most advanced painters of his day, with their radical distortions of human physiognomy, led the way in breaking down architectural composition and giving rein to "psychological processes most incompatible with social stability".
The afterlife of Bataille's short article, most notibly its elaboration by Denis Hollier in 'La Prise de la Concorde' (1974; published in English as 'Against Architecture' in 1989), have extended Bataille's metaphorical definition of the architectural as that which is ordered and ordering in any system, from the social to the psychological. Hollier demonstrates the degree to which architecture terminology and its methphors extends deeply into the construction of language itself, underpinning narratives of historical progress and much of the rational edifice of philosophy.
More recently Jill Stoner, in 'Toward A Minor Architecture' (MIT Press, 2012) argues for the continued relevance of Bataille's text to the architectural and urban environment itself. Where, for Bataille, writing in Paris in the 1920's, the source of architectural authority was the church, the military and the judiciary, for Stoner, it is in the speculative redevelopment of our cities and the corporate facades of late capitalism, that we see reflected the blank face of today's corporate and political elites. The need for architects, artists, theorists to intervene in this landscape has never been greater.