Architectures of Control and Resistance.

New Histories of Architecture and Politics in the 20th Century.

Obedient resistance,

from a spleen to the sublime.

Cornell University

College of Architecture, Art, and Planning

129 Sibley Dome Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853

frame from March of the Penguins (2005)

are intertwined
in a system
of abstraction.

Both* are categorical expressions of though, inhabiting each individual as the assumption of our cultural modern society and therefore, in their specific uniqueness, not allowed to exist. When implying the “identity thinking” (Adorno, 1983) as the manifestation of power and domination, we can further enhance the claim that culture is anchored on nature in a larger consequence than the opposite. Control-resistance and power-domination are negative dialectics in a modern paradox of conformity and prevailing powers. Despite our acknowledgment of the ongoing process of self-destruction and even beholding a decadent modern habitat, we refuse to submit to the natural construction of the most basic human conditions.

Academic conformity enacts this same system in a closed community constructed from impaired bodies[1]. Engaged in a close competition of symbolic pain, these opposing organisms are the physical structures in the dynamics of a collective mental occupation by the ghosts of the field of architecture. The great acceleration of modernity is continuously lubricated by the natural extractivism practices of an academic training of agents under the totalitarian regime provided by none other than the history of architecture. Worse than scars, the anecdotical trauma of this spectrum is nothing more than a narrative that conforms with the expectations of the layman. We ceased to struggle the clerical state of the discipline and gave up its desired transformation into a pedagogical story, as the definite narrative that betrays the audience expectations and evolves into consciousness and knowledge. Instead, we are the culprits in a pernicious alienation of its most valuable asset: future architects.

photo from FAUP student exhibition: “a Inconformada” (2022) translation: “the nonconformist” (fem.)

How can we confront the coloniality of modernity in architecture worldwide? is a question than can only be answered from the process of observation of the inherent melancholic state of architecture (Lopes, 2015) as a condition to practice.

Perhaps, producing a spleen (Baudelaire, 2012) as the refusal to admit the resistant defeat, we can impose a methodology of perception in order to propose the sublime[2] as an elegant form of disobedience (Rieder, 2014).

frame from Selma (2014)


Adorno, T. W. (1983). Negative dialectics. Continuum.

Baudelaire, C. (2012). Le spleen de Paris. Belin Gallimard.

DuVernay, A. (n.d.). Selma (2014)—IMDb. /

Jacquet, L. (2005). March of the Penguins (2005)—IMDb.

Lopes, D. S. (2015). Melancholy and architecture: On Aldo Rossi. Park Books.

Rieder, J. (2014). Gospel of Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr. Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation. Bloomsbury Publishing USA.

  1. Closed community = a student body + the embodied faculty
  2. Revisiting the romanticised view of the sublime, from the anthropocentric perspective of humans as compulsive extractivists of vices and desires from old masters.