Hélène Frichot, director, Bachelor of Design; professor of Architecture and Philosophy, The University of Melbourne, presents the lecture "Following the Dirt: Troubling Architecture" at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom as part of the Rice Architecture Spring 2021 Lecture Series.
Following the dirt requires a willingness to acknowledge our intimate entanglement, as human creatures, with the dirt, multifariously defined. It also requires a willingness to acknowledge the masses of dirt we produce in the wake of our productions and consumptions, especially as architects and designers. Following the dirt complements an orientation I have elsewhere described as ‘following the materials’, which means to take on an ethical approach to our messy material relations. In light of the 2020 Corona virus pandemic, dirt has gained a new valence in terms of re-invigorated habits of hygiene, from the wearing of masks, to hand washing, to the ‘deep cleaning’ of interior environments. Dirt, in this instance, becomes that invisible threat we attempt to keep as far outside our bodies as possible, fearing contamination, fearing even to touch each other. The impact on spaces of care has been profound, from the ravage wrought across aged care homes to the impact on women who take on the burden of care labour when child-care facilities go into lock down. This lecture will present a series of material stories dedicated to following the dirt in search of gestures of care that attempt to cope with the current crisis. The aim will be to trouble presumptions about what architecture as a practice can do.