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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.105 Santiago ago. 2020 


The Power to Resist

Francisco Díaz1 

1 Editor revista ARQ, Profesor asistente, Escuela de Arquitectura, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.

After devoting a large part of his life to studying the inner workings of power - arriving at the conclusion that it was practically everywhere - in the first volume of The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault (1978:95) wrote that “wherever there is power, there is resistance.” This not only implies that power contains the germ of its own response, but also that resistance is not external to power, rather, it is its counterpart.

In physical terms, resistance is the opposition to the exercise of a force. As an action (or, more precisely, a reaction), resistance has no sign other than being the negative of the force it opposes. Thus, the resistance of a chair to our weight allows us to rest our bodies, or the resistance of the air gives support to the airplane’s wings, so it stays in flight. Without it, in both cases we would end up on the ground. Something similar occurs with electrical resistance. The filament in a light bulb, for example, consumes energy by resisting the passage of electrons and, in doing so, transforms that energy into heat that turns the filament incandescent. That incandescence illuminates us. The light from the vial is the visible product of resistance.

Through dynamics similar to these analogies, the concept approaches politics. Because resistance is not the mere opposition to the power of the day. It is more than that. The mere fact that Foucault has pointed out that “wherever there is power, there is resistance,” reflects that it is not always evident. Thus, part of the meaning of this issue of arq is precisely to give visibility to the different forms of resistance that appear in architecture.

In the photographic report, Pablo Casals and José Luis Uribe record the traces of the resistance of buildings to the social explosion. Through the example of Fernando Castillo Velasco, both in the different facets of his career and in his communities, we try to show the possibilities of an architecture of resistance, which is then put into perspective by Alejandro Crispiani, who cites John Ruskin - another symbol of resistance in architecture. Sophie Hochhäusl allows us to discover the wonderful story of friendship between two architects who participated in political resistance during the 20th century. Daniel Concha reminds us of the stories of resistance of two renowned contemporary architects. Through the case of Kiruna, in Sweden, Carlos Mínguez presents the conflict of a city that must be displaced because an extractive activity refuses to disappear. Wagemann, D’Alençon and Greene explain the conceptual differences between resistance and resilience. In Berlin, frohn&rojas (FAR) develop a building that clearly expresses its patterns of structural resistance. Daniel Jacobs and Brittany Utting propose a strategy in which the alteration of the codes allows to resist the homogeneity of the workspaces. Gilsanz, Gutiérrez and Parra narrate the experience of an architecture school that resisted academic trends. De Souza and Cymbalista reveal the case of an LGBTQ+ resistance space in the center of São Paulo. At the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Adjaye Associates shows how a building can symbolize resistance through architectural operations. Finally, on this issue’s debate, Valentina Rozas-Krause and Erwin Brevis raise two points of view regarding the permanence of monuments.

This last example brings us back to the current condition. Those who read this issue in a few years will be able to remember this moment not only because of the social outbreak in Chile or the protests against racism in different parts of the world, but also because this 2020, humanity has had to resist the onslaught of the coViD-19 pandemic by locking themselves up in their houses to avoid the danger of contagion. In recent months, architecture has become our main tool for sanitary resistance.

With the ARQ team teleworking since mid-March, this is the first time we’ve published a magazine without seeing each other in person. Hidden behind architecture, after months of looking at the world through a screen - be it from a computer, telephone or television - many are betting on the replacement of physical supports and even the permanence of telework after the pandemic. At ARQ, we resist those options. Not only do we miss going back to our offices, sharing coffee early in the morning, and talking about architecture, but we also believe that while the pandemic may hit institutions, it does not have to make them disappear. In this sense, insisting on publishing this number 105 on paper - especially in a format with less color than usual - is a way to resist the onslaught and, as such, demonstrate the power of the magazine. The effort is worth it as long as that thin filament that enlightens us is not cut.


FOUCAULT , Michel. The History of Sexuality. New York: Pantheon Books, 1978. [ Links ]

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