Ritual - less - ness
In 2014, the IN- N -OUT chain constructed a replica of its original location just a few hundred feet from its offices in Baldwin Park. The “stand,” built to honor the southern California cultural touchstone of IN - N-OUT, does not serve any food, and its location has been moved across several lanes of traffic to the east from its original site. It exists as a pure and un-grease-stained totem to a ritual born from a food chain celebrated for its rigid, if not dogmatic, simplicity and its dependence on nostalgia -- a “lost” southern California. This reconstruction does not allow one to eat at the location, or to stand in line, make an order, or receive food from a smiling apron clad “crew member.” The “food” at the demonstration center consists of felt mock-ups, the equipment inside is unused, shining and pristine and there are no cars.
Similar in its perversity, Le Corbusier’s Eglise St. Pierre de Firminy is a reconstruction or rather the ideal reconstructed “completion” of a project started by Le Corbusier in 1961 at the behest of the mayor of Firminy, not too far from Le Corbusier’s other major religious works the Notre Dame du Haut completed in 1955, and the Monastery at La Tourrette completed in 1953. By the time the newly completed church in Firminy was completed in 2003, the reason for making the pilgrimage to this out-of- the-way town in Eastern France was for many not religious or at least not of the catholic variety. (Assuming architecture is a type of “religious” pursuit) . The ritual aspects of catholicism had provided Le Corbusier with a vehicle to advance his own cult. In the church we are able to see the realization of a Le Corbusier concept as if it was freshly built in the 21st century with a more precise means of construction -- with the weight of his own importance as an icon as its core reason for its ostensible existence. As it was, the state of France that declared the unfinished foundations an historic site and then paid for its completion and restoration; the “church,” however, is not allowed to function as a church.
Firminy and IN- N-OUT come into focus, both having inspired the building of shrines to their own iconic stature, rather that the ritual that their architectures were formed by. The building of a burger restaurant that does not serve food is after all no more perverse than a church building where it is illegal to perform mass.
The publication/exhibition is a collaboration with Robert Alexander and Anthony Acock