Philosopher, curator and transgender activist Paul B. Preciado gave the 2017 Benno Premsela Lecture. One of the leading thinkers in the study of gender and sexual politics, Preciado addressed architecture as a technology of subject production.
Far from merely providing shelter to a given gendered and sexual subject, he will argue, architecture is a performative technique that produces the subject it claims to house. Taking Michel Foucault’s work on biopolitics as its starting point, and drawing on feminist, queer, and anticolonial theories, the lecture will explore architecture as a political technology for producing gender and sexuality.
Grounding his argument on a series of case studies (including the invention of the pill and the rise of the post-domestic environment), Preciado will track the displacement that took place following World War II from ‘disciplinary’ technologies of power (‘hard’ architectures and collective exoskeletons such as the panopticon) to what he calls soft ‘pharmacopornographic’ architectures that work as ‘prostheses of the self’ (including biochemical, media, electronic, and computer technologies).
From this perspective, architecture is becoming a somatic system. Within the new regime, the body no longer inhabits political architectures but rather is inhabited by them. This novel condition blurs the traditional distinctions between architecture, performance, media, medicine, and design.
Paul B. Preciado
Paul B. Preciado is an Honors Graduate and Fulbright Fellow. He earned an M.A. in Philosophy and Gender Theory at the New School for Social Research in New York where he studied with Agnes Heller and Jacques Derrida. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Theory of Architecture from Princeton University.
His first book, Contra-Sexual Manifesto (Columbia University Press) was acclaimed by French critics as “the red book of queer theory” and became a key reference for European queer and trans activism. He is the author of Testo Junkie. Sex, Drugs and Biopolitics (The Feminist Press) and Pornotopia (Zone Books) for which he was awarded the Sade Prize in France.
Preciado has been Head of Research of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA) and Director of the Independent Studies Program (PEI) from 2011 to 2014. He taught Philosophy of the Body and Transfeminist Theory at Université Paris VIII-Saint Denis and at New York University. He has directed numerous projects with artist, activists and thinkers with the aim to develop and explore the field of activism emerging out the mobilization against biopolitical management of the body, sex, gender and race within contemporary capitalism. Some of these projects include: Rhetorics of gender/Politics of Identity (BNV, UNIA, 2003), Postporn Marathon (MACBA, 2004), PornPunkFeminism (Arteleku, 2008), Art after Feminism (MACBA, 2008), IM/MUNE (Emmetrop, 2011), Cuir International (MNCARS, 2011), Gender Lab (Emmetrop, 2012), The Beast and The Sovereign (MACBA/Kunstverein Stuttgart 2015). From 2014 to 2017 he was Curator of Public Programs of documenta 14 (Kassel/Athens).