The Masque

The Masque was a festive royal entertainment that flourished in the 16th and early 17th century and involved music, singing, dancing and acting. What I find interesting about the masque is that the elaborate stage design and costumes were often designed by the most renowned architects of the time. It would act as an artificial cultural construct that would often follow mythological fable, reflecting the social constructs of politics and ethical debate.
I have recently discovered John Hejduk's Masque series, 1979, pertained to the narrative qualities inherent in the making and experience of buildings where he uses the allegory of the Masque as an "autonomous geometrical projection" to inform his architecture. Like Walter Benjamin's notion of the flanuer the activity can open up a passage beyond the visible world, it offers an alternative understanding of the social phenomena in which the making of architecture is an essential act, and the architect is the storyteller or shaman. This reveals the potential actions or roles that architecture can invent.

Yup'ik shaman exorcising evil spirits from a sick boy, Nushagak, Alaska, 1890s

John Hejduk, Berlin Masque, 1982


Berlin Masque from Massimo Peota on Vimeo.

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