Poetics of Cliché

May 25, 2012, 1400
AHO, Oslo

Mark Cousins, Director of Histories and Theory at the Architectural Association, London will speak on The Cliché.

The cliché represents an insoluble problem for language and art in modernity. Technology, cities and forms of signification all entail a radical increase in the volume and density of discourse. This produces both a standardisation of discourse and a revulsion from this standardisation. A new type of tension develops between the standard and the rare or the original – a different tension from that between the copy and the original. The question of the cliché even extends to people’s lives when they are considered to be living clichés, a new type of zombie.

Marc Cousins is Director of Histories and Theory at the Architectural Association. He has been Visiting Professor of Architecture at Columbia University and at the Architecture School of the University of Navarre. He is now Guest Professor at South-Eastern University, Nanjing. He is a founding member and Senior Fellow of the London Consortium. He has been a member of the Arts Council and consultant to the practice of Zaha Hadid. He has written on the relation of the human sciences and psychoanalysis. His publications include a book on Michel Foucault (with Athar Hussain) and the introduction to a new translation of Freud’s selected papers on the unconscious in a series edited by Adam Phillips. A series of articles on ‘The Ugly’ in AA Files has been translated into many languages. He has published on the work of Tony Fretton and many artists, most recently catalogue essays for Cerith Wynn-Evans, Anthony Gormley, Jane and Louise Wilson and Donovan Wylie. He has contributed to several journals, including Harvard Design Magazinem/fOctoberEconomy and Society, and Art History. He is known for his Friday Afternoon Lectures at the ArchitecturalAssociation, which have drawn artists, architects, and (more recently) Consortium students for nearly twenty-five years


Originally posted May 25, 2012. Latest revision May 5, 2021.

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