A Certain Kind of Life explores the typology of the Carthusian monastery as an architecture of absolute rationality, wherein the form of life cannot be detached from the space and rituals of the liturgy the monastery shelters. Drawing from nine centuries of monastic architecture, the project reconsiders asceticism as a way to meditate upon present living and working conditions: a necessary estrangement to look closely at reality, its daily gestures and rituals.
In a society wherein maximum integration generates maximum alienation, a rudimentary practice of asceticism offers both a strategy of resistance and an antidote against collective hypnosis, social bonds, and constructed farces and behaviors. The asceticism that A Certain Kind of Life advocates is a form of productive rationalism, to conduct life under constant thought by dispelling anxieties of endless competition, consumerism, and the consequential illusions of promise.
Taking place at the Cartuxa de Laveiras as an associated project of the Lisbon Architecture Triennale 2019 “The Poetics of Reason,” A Certain Kind of Life proposes three interventions: a Cell for a Certain Individual, an architectural evocation of worldly asceticism; an Atlas detailing the charterhouse type in exemplary reiterations; and Deserts, an exhibition of prototypes for contemporary living, which distill the rationalism of daily rituals into architectural forms through specific procedures in space.
The project has been realized in collaboration with our students Nash Kennedy, Alexandra Madsen, Jacob Patnode, William Stauffer, Julia Turner, Andreina Yepez, and thanks to the precious support of the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
A Certain Kind of Life opened an issue #31 of the peer-reviewed art criticism journal NONSITE.ORG, featuring an introduction to the project by Walter Benn Michaels, and an interview with Bob Somol.