Emptiness and Fullness: Pinter, anti-architecture and politics
Classical architecture has a long history of representing the idealized proportions of the human body, derived from the Vitruvian man. This association with the idealized human form has also associated architecture as symbiotic with prevailing power structures. Meaning that architecture is always loaded with some signification, it creates a highly inscribed space. In the absence of architecture space is not necessarily without inscription, for within the void there can exist an anti-architecture. Like the black box theatre, it is both empty and full at the same time, in the absence of the architecture, the void of space and how it is occupied becomes much more profound. As Dorita Hannah writes, ‘In denying a purely visual apprehension of built space, and suggesting a profound interiority, the black-box posits a new way of regarding the body in space.’ This paper analyses the work of Harold Pinter and his use of the body to create an anti-architecture to subvert oppressors and power structures. Pinter’s works are an important case study in this research due to their political nature. His works are also heavily tied to territory, which bound the works in a dependent relationship with a simulated ‘place’. In the citation accompanying the playwright’s Nobel Laureate it states, '...in his plays [he] uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms.' In Pinter’s work oppression manifests itself in the representation of a room, the architecture, which is the cause of a power struggle when objectified and defeated when subjectified. The following work examines how Pinter uses the body to subjectify and represent architecture as authority in his earlier works, which relied on detailed mimetic sets of domestic rooms, and then in his later political works, that were freed of representational scenography. This paper will also look at the adaption of Pinter’s work by the Belarus Free Theatre in their 2008 production of ‘Being Harold Pinter.’ The work of Pinter and the Belarus Free Theatre are concerned with authoritarian political structures. That is, political structures that works against ideas of individualism, ascribing to a mass-produced body as an artifact of dictatorship and conservatism. The focus on the body in space on an empty stage draws attention to the individual – the body amongst scenography can become merely another prop, lost in the borders and boundaries the scenery dictates. Through an analysis of selected works by Harold Pinter and their interpretations, this paper examines this paradox of emptiness and fullness through the body as anti-architecture in performance.
International Journal of Interior Architecture + Spatial Design: Corporeal Complexities
Architectural History and Theory