e-flux lectures: Jack Self, "The Agony of Power"

What is the relevance of architecture to contemporary life? And what can it offer as a framework for how we think about the future of space, time, work and our relations with each other?

In The Agony of Power, French philosopher Jean Baudrillard spoke about our transition from a system of “domination” (based on alienation, revolt, revolution) to a world of generalized “hegemony” (in which everyone becomes both hostage and accomplice of the global market). The intense political instability, social anxiety, and economic uncertainty that has come to characterize our era is a product of this transition.

In an era when revolution is no longer possible, notions of incremental struggle through material change become once again relevant. Architecture offers a distinctive method for structural critique and positive assertion; a way of understanding how the built environment enforces and reinforces social power relations, and – crucially – how we can intervene in this process.

Jack Self is an architect based in London. He is director of the REAL foundation and editor-in-chief of the Real Review. His architectural design focuses on alternative models of ownership, contemporary forms of labor, and the formation of socio-economic power relationships in space. His work has been shown widely, including at the Maxxi in Rome and the Tate Britain in London, and his writing has appeared in The Guardiane-flux ArchitectureNew PhilosopherBBCCNN, and elsewhere. 

In 2016, Self curated the British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. He is the author of Real Estates: Life Without Debt (Bedford Peess, 2014), contributing editor to the Architectural Review, and editor-at-large for 032c.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

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