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Ways of Knowing Architecture: Resisting the Master’s Tools


Elke Krasny

This is the keynote for the TACK Conference on 19 June 2023, 13:15-14:15 (CEST) at ETH Zürich (Auditorium HPV G5).

What does architecture know? How can this knowledge of architecture be made accessible and what does this knowledge tell us about our relations to each other, to other sentient beings, to land and resources, to the planet at large? What are the tools that shape ways of knowing architecture? Starting from these questions, and acknowledging that knowledge is never singular, never neutral, and always situated and that tools are implicated in the master’s power, this lecture places ways of knowing architecture at the intersection of dimensions of tacit knowledge, hegemonic power knowledge, epistemic violence and myriad ways of rendering ways of knowing otherwise silent and invisible. In order to work towards ways of knowing architecture otherwise and to become more fully aware of how epistemic violence operates in tandem with economies based on the paradigms of extraction, exploitation, and compulsory growth, knowledge needs to become plural. Learning to listen to plural knowledges that matter to architecture, knowledges that come from the ground, the air, the water, humans and other sentient beings, will require more complex ways of engaging with what architecture knows. Learning how to listen to such plural knowledges in architecture, requires tools and methods that make such learning and listening possible. Insisting on this possibility links ways of knowing architecture to ethical and political dimensions of interdependencies, which are materialized and spatialized in designing, building, and constructing architecture. Ultimately, this lecture asks how ways of knowing architecture otherwise will and can enter into architectural education and curricula as well as into the architectural profession.

Elke Krasny is Professor for Art and Education at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. She is a feminist cultural theorist, urban researcher, curator, and author. Her scholarship addresses ecological and social justice at the global present with a focus on care in architecture, urbanism, and contemporary art. With Angelika Fitz, she edited Critical Care. Architecture and Urbanism for a Broken Planet together (MIT Press, 2019). With Lara Perry, she edited Curating as Feminist Organizing (Routledge, 2022). Her forthcoming book Living with an Infected Planet. Covid-19, Feminism and the Global Frontline of Care offers a cultural feminist analysis of the rhetoric of war and the realities of care in pandemic times and an introduction to feminist recovery plans for Covid-19 and beyond.