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VAN.YR .

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Coupe

VAN.YR.Ø
COUPE

2013

Money’s architecture decays. When it smells, it smells something like deck-rot. The fungal scent of former inhabitation: dust, alcohol, the slow leaching of plastic, the sour mix of jetsam and dried salt. Distressed evergreens. A flat, metallic taste finds its way into your mouth, sent there by cardboard boxes tinged with rust.

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During a hot day at the end of summer, a few trek to a vacant property near the edge of Vancouver. They negotiate a bridge sabotaged by years of weather. After ascending a forest pathway, their eyes meet two long-dormant cars and a painter’s van. Tools and junk overflow the passenger’s seat. On the floor: rollers, wood glue, buckets of white paint, sanding blocks. The van’s moist interior is powdered with shattered glass. A spider has taken up residence in the window’s gaping aperture. Beyond the van lies the property, down a short path and a precarious flight of stairs. Others were surely here before. The scene of wreckage sprawls out towards the sea.

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The secrets of the house tumble out of each entrance and window. Mildew. On the stairs there are dress shirts, pants and jeans spilling out of suitcases. Wool, cotton, silk: a litany of men’s names. All of them men. From the dock, a rambling path splits toward a guest lodge and a boat shed. The shed is full of rotting wood, compressed by a collapsed ceiling. Ivy creeps in through the back window of the guest room, sharing the space with a rancid hot-tub full of leaves.

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And all around, mansions. Other houses, yards, people, yachts, maintaining appearances. But across a threshold of representation, the surface has broken. Windshields attacked, doors kicked open, the smooth glass face of the house now shattered and scattered across the kitchen floor. Broken bottles on the living room carpet. A half-eaten turkey in the fridge. All of it rotting.

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In front of the house is an expansive concrete landing where a few picnic tables linger awkwardly, teetering in the wind. The beach-front patio mimics a modernist town square. A jetty extends from the shore, acting as a marine barricade. It shelters the shore from the harsh waves of the sound, occasionally breaking the wake kicked up by the passing ferries. He clambered to the edge of the jetty and launched a painted board out onto the water.

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The site lists an interminable constellation of elements, each one staking a claim on the whole. The structure is a totality that categorizes its own decline through a vocabulary of abandonment. With figures sauntering through its natural passages and unfrequented aisle-ways (a work the size of a sprawling glass fortress), the place is not such much restored as unearthed. Amnesia stifles the active experience of the present. Whirling like atoms, they drink the nepenthe of Homer’s Odyssey. She cast into the wine of which they were drinking a drug to quiet all pain and strife, and bring forgetfulness of every ill. Joy and terror, enthusiasm and anxiety, are intermixed, together quaffed and forgotten. There is no recollection of that so-called moment of primitive accumulation. The absence of memory suppresses all errant intensity.

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Beyond the concrete, the house is approached formally without recourse to lived experience. The site figures only as a boardedup shell of capital. Its emptiness now can only stand in for the emptiness that preceded it, awash in scales of profit and wreckage. The object signals that past and present each share a face of the other, ushered into existence by an economy of abstraction.

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Fragments are withdrawn from the wreckage: wax, a metal sphere, bits of eroded styrofoam. What subsequently takes place is a quiet revolt against the customary reign of objects. The wasted baubles of the rich are converted into objects of thought. The thoughts are converted to emancipatory blasphemes left to the spray. Digging through big grey green boxes once dormant, dragged deep out of storage. A discovery: huge stacks of magazines, boxes of books. A hardcover tome with passages underlined, page numbers circled, clumsy notes in the margins. Interior paint, primer, rollers, trays, all fished out of the back seat of the truck. Boards and nails broken out of the shed, down by the dock.

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When time unwinds, it unravels entropically. A function of thermodynamic variables. A state of disorder. Or a hypothetical tendency toward such a state. Within its own dynamic, the abstract, technical time of development grinds against the quotidian time of collective experience.

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Here goes this plywood board, a thin coat of eggshell white, out onto the surface of the water. From this angle it is not probing the limits of ‘the frame’ or ‘art’ or ‘life’ or ‘colour,’ rather it mines the depths of excess and silence of the horizon. It disappears. A monochrome is sent to the bay. Upon the concrete embankment, a flimsy guillotine is erected for the already-headless. On the jetty and above on a cliff, painted signs announce themselves out into the distance. Each is a minor exhibition of a former singularity. This time, however, the foundation is built from the ruins of luxury rather than the wreckage of life. For a brief moment, the old world dissolves like salt crystals returned to the sea.

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She set midsummer flowers in a plastic bucket atop a wooden chair. Something fleeting. They envision a form of distanciation. On the horizon there floats an Idea. It is there – out there – as a type of foam whose water is History. The foam leaves an expanding trace, the shipwreck of the idea is writ on water.

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But these words pose some questions for the floating idea of history. The idea that knows of linearity while eliding its grasp. The idea that permeates the architecture of wreckage and which promises the re-appropriation of the commons in an era of thievery. This question is for that idea.

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When a red tide approaches the shore, it carpets the embankment (and all that it touches). Its movement expands in a broad billow, cleaving a widening arc across an enigmatic sea. Towards this abstraction, friends submerge and re-emerge like imperfect buoys. They are now within a temporary world, covered in the grime of a red tide.

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This site of demolished real-estate announces the fact that day to day, week to week, overnight, at any price, construction advances forward. This world of capital, this fierce and ever-expanding enclosure, is also a world that endeavors to present no genealogy. It issues forth an architecture of time as though the maneuvers of colonization were eternal. To think through a different time therefore implies a counter-materiality corresponding to the origins of both old and new. It is a counter-rhythm, a counter-tendency, a counter-history that seethes and leaks into the present, implicating the future of a different development that is here, there – the red tide of history. An experience that knows only one word – profit – is thus counted by another word – expropriation.

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