Non-Professional Practice

“The particular threat to the intellectual today, whether in the West or the non-Western world, is not the academy, nor the suburbs, nor the appalling commercialism of journalism and publishing houses, but rather an attitude that I will call professionalism. By professionalism I mean thinking of your work as an intellectual as something you do for a living, between the hours of nine and five with one eye on the dock, and another cocked at what is considered to be proper, professional behavior-not rocking the boat, not straying outside the accepted paradigms or limits, making yourself marketable and above all presentable, hence uncontroversial and unpolitical and “objective."
         Source: Edward Said, “Professionals and Amateurs,” in Representations of the Intellectual (New York: Vintage Books, 1996) 73-83.

The course studies unconventional modes of creative practices and their underlying implications. It is based on a workshop format, centered on research, conversations with guests and open dialogue.

 “I’ve never worked for a living. I consider working for a living slightly imbecilic from an economic point of view. I hope some day we’ll be able to live without being obliged to work.”
           Marcel Duchamp

In a rapidly changing world that is facing unprecedented challenges, the hyper-specialization of the professional can backfire in its rigidity and the implied limitation, while also becoming a powerful tool of discrimination. We will look collectively outside of the current framework of architectural practice and identify new possibilities.

Topics of investigation include the law of chance in changing times, the role of production of culture, the permeability of disciplinary boundaries, the role of language and communication, the banality of kickstarting something, the urgency of (mis)use and interpretation, the hacker and the expert, the irrelevance of authorship and the social being as a practice.  

Course structure:
The seminar has two parallel tracks: one conversational and one based on group work. The conversational part will take place every Wednesday from 9am EST and will require your attendance. Weekly guests from various professional fields will share with us the stories of their own practices, from failures to highs, from philosophical to practical. Students will have to introduce the guest as well as create a poster at the end of the semester that encapsulates the lessons from class.

The parallel track is based on group work and is to be scheduled in coordination with each group. We will collectively identify concerns regarding practice and investigate them. The end goal is to develop a set of tools or language to address and debunk them.
The main requirement for the class is the desire to be an active participant. The seminar is relying on each individual in creating a collective, and assume responsibility in shaping the seminar through participation by using your voice. It’s it mandatory to attend the first two seminars in order to remain enrolled.

For further information, and previous work, please refer to: