Columbus (2017)

The Korean architect is seized by a heart attack during his visit-study in the city that is the emblem of American modernism. The son lives the stay of his father – who has never endured – in the feeling of escape. He shares it with a student who wants to get out of the maze of that architecture.

“This design, Saarinen’s design is asy… Saarinen’s design is asymmetrical, yet still remains balanced.”

“My name’s Casey. It’s actually Cassandra, but everyone calls me Casey.” Jin. Jim? “Jin.” With an n.

“Yeah, I hear this town is quite the Mecca. I’m sure everyone here is fanatical about architecture, huh?” Are you kidding? “No, most people, they don’t really have any idea. I mean, they know some things but they don’t really give a shit.” Is that right? “Yeah, you’d be surprised how little people know or care about architecture here.” Maybe not. What do you mean? I don’t know shit about architecture or care. “I don’t believe you.” It’s true. I’m just like everyone here. You grow up around something, and it feels like nothing. Well, I never liked her.

“I thought you hated architecture?” I do but I’m interested in what moves you.

“Yeah, he had this idea, Polshek did, of architecture being this sort of healing art. That it had the power to restore and that architects should be responsible. – Do you mind if I… – For the tour? No. Anyway, all the details of this building are mindful of that responsibility, especially since it was a structure for mental health. This building was meant to be both a literal and metaphoric bridge. Polshek had the same idea for the Clinton Library. Did your dad tell you all this?” No. I think he was planning on writing something about Polshek, but then he found out that Polshek was writing his own book. It came out very recently. “And you read it?” Some of it, the part about this building. “And you don’t care about architecture?” I skimmed it, it was in my father’s room when I got here. “Wait, so you you just recently read about this building?” Yes, does that matter? “No, I guess not. You’re funny.”

I think that’s a fantasy that architects like to tell themselves. Or people like my father. People who are invested in architecture, you know?

You want to become an architect? “I don’t think so. I never really thought about it until she brought it up.”

You’d love Eleanor, by the way. She was probably a lot like you when she was younger. “Yeah? How so?” You know an architecture nerd. “Oh, is that what I am?” Yes. “Really?” Without a doubt. Hm. Go on. “Well, Eleanor was telling me about my dad’s latest research. He was writing something on the Saarinen churches.” Really? Like what? “I’m not sure exactly. Something about the paradox of modernism and religion.” That’s interesting. I suppose.

“What about your dad? Does he believe in anything?” He believes in modernism. Modernism with a soul. I like that. I don’t know what it means, but he used to say it all the time. Something about an alternative possibility.

Jae Yong Lee
Color palette

The Labirinth of the Modern

“In the symbol of the labyrinth is manifested the way in which in the various ages man has represented his own destiny to himself, always remaining firm, however an essential guiding concept: the awareness that we can always reach the freedom of our soul: now through faith and now with knowledge or perhaps only with perseverance that we oppose to destiny; and this even if the way will be long, even if the ideal of a short and clear and straight way will remain, unfortunately, a dream not feasible, a vain hope.” (Paolo Santarcangeli, ll libro dei labirinti. Storia di un mito e di un simbolo)

“Blessed is he who, like Theseus, can emerge from his personal labyrinth once and for all. But the story of the man who does not come to so much favor of the gods is more serious, so his erring will be as long as life. And yet, having reached the secret chamber even once (…) will change his consciousness forever (…).” (Paolo Santarcangeli, ll libro dei labirinti. Storia di un mito e di un simbolo)

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