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The following interview took place in preparation for the reader Support Structures (2009), a manual of things which can bear, sustain, prop or hold.1 While the work of supporting might traditionally appear as subsequent, unessential and lacking value in itself, this manual attempts to restore attention to one of the neglected, yet crucial modes through which we apprehend and shape the world. Mark Cousins is Director of Histories and Theory at the Architectural Association, London, and has spoken and written on the relation of the human sciences and psychoanalysis. Here he identifies support as what philosophers call the condition of something, and discusses it not with the aim of spelling out the actual concepts one would need to think through a new subject, but rather to outline a framework for thinking those out, and start establishing an entirely new set of terms which could be appropriate to a position like that proposed by support.
Scaffolding is a temporary framework used to support people and material; it is both a clear and visible example of what we may call structures of support. Scaffolding can occur before as well as after the making of architecture, and as such exists against it in an uncomfortable proximity, next to but never intrinsic to a building itself. Scaffolding touches on and cooperates from a certain exterior position. Scaffolding can hold a building and a city together, and in that way maintain them on the brink of impending disaster and collapse. What is the relationship between object and support?
To try and clarify this question, we might contrast how we imagine things in what you might call fantasy,
Support Structures (2009) by Céline Condorelli was co-produced with Support Structure (Céline Condorelli & Gavin Wade) and James Langdon, and published by Sternberg Press.↑
Heinrich Wölfflin, 'Prolegomena zu einer Psychologie der Architektur', doctoral thesis, Munich: University of Munich, 1886. Also published in Kleine Schriften (ed. Joseph Gantner), Basel: Schwabe, 1946. Mark Cousins's paraphrase.↑