Burgin Chapter 12

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S.R. I suggest that we just keep sitting and maybe we continue talking on this work and as we are finished with this situation maybe you can take the camera from ...

record break!

V.B. I find it very difficult to work externely so I tend to work at home //I see// This was given to me by the school when I came here and (...) I came from the USA with a lot of stuff and I had a large house in America so a lot of stuff that I couldn't fit into my flat in London I had to put here, where I ... keep throwing stuff out and on one time you couldn't acutually walk into here 'cause there were so many boxes gradually throwing everything away and that's what this is really and I ... it's not actually where I work but that's o.k.

S.R. You were talking about the research on the Schindler house and this French erotic novella. Do you already know where this work will be exhibited, and do you have an idea of it because maybe a video installation, or a photographic installation?

V.B. ... It will be shown first of all at least at the Christine Burgin Gallery in New York and I'll be talking about the work and about issues coming out of the research at the Cooper Union Architecture School in New York, just before the show opens. A number of my works of the past few years have involved architectural sites; all of my works have involved a sense of place, so all of these works, photographic works from the 80s for example, or the seventies shots in the cities in Lyon, Grenoble, Berlin and so on. (...) Last year I made a work on the: Dominique Perrault, a Baroque creapian (?) again, the Dominique Perrault Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, I used that sight and then the Mies van der Rohe house, the Barcelona pavilion, in Barcelona; so the Schindler house ... belongs to kind of recent line of works using architecture so it has an architectural reference in place... The erotic novella ... was actually written in order to promote an architect's services. So the idea was that a rich clientele would read the book, and in reading the book they would be exposed to architectural ideas, of course in those days, inseparable of what today we would call issues of interior decoration, and it's essentially the story of a woman seduced by architecture // S.R. That sounds interesting... // V.B. Yes (laughs). It's the set-up of »the irresistable force meets the immovable object« –  the irresistable force is the Marquis de Trémicourt who is rich, handsome, brilliant, witty, has good taste and the immovable object is the virtuous Melite, this brilliant totally virtuos young woman and Trémicourt whiches to posses her. She is quite happy to talk about that but to tell him that it will never happen so he challenges her to visit his petite maison. Now, in that period, late Baroque, before the Revolution of course, a typical aristocrat of this type would have his château in the country where he would hunt and have his lands that would produce income; he would have his hôtel in Paris where he would have his kind of official seat in Paris, living his serious business and his retinue; he would have his maison de plaisance on the outskirts of Paris, which of course in those days is very small, on the edge so that you can see the country on one side and the city on the other and that's where all the water painted will take place that will be somewhere where he will go not in hunting but in fruit gathering or something like that which gave him a form of sociability and would hold parties and it would be for pleasure; he will also have his petite maison de plaisance which became abbreviated as petite maison, little house, and that's where he would escape all the people, because aristocrats in that period were never alone, there's always somebody around. So he would go to his petite maison and that's where he would meet for a sensitive political discussion, or economic discussion, but more often for his erotic encounters. (laughs) And so these people spend a lot of money for these petites maisons to make them absolutely »paradise«, behind high hedges, féage, folie it became, so from that house became what was la petite maison so ... this is a place of folie and madness but awesome. So he says to, Trénicourt says to Mélite if you visit my petite maison then you would surely ge given and she says: "I accept the challenge". So she visits him, and each chapter is a visit to a different room and he describes the furnishings ... , so for historians has become a really valuable source of information about the interior decoration of that period. And in one room he describes and shows her the water closet which he says is the very latest design so the excrement could be flushed away and –  this is all in the book (laughs) you know why it's seducing ... –  , and then there's the garden of course, end of course, needless to say, by the end ... she has held out till the last, but the last room is too much and her senses have been so overcome by her progress through this house that by the last room – and it's a very beautiful the moment when she moves into the very last room he steps (makes a step with his feet) on the end of her dress so she has to turn around so when she turns to the room she's already in it and she get's the full impact and she just collapses onto the nearest couches and that's the end of the story (smiles).


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