The architectural design team of Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio have made the temporal exploration of space a central theme of their work for two decades, as demonstrated by an exhibit currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art that pokes holes in the very nature of the museum space. Several installations of Diller + Scofidio are enclosed in a series of wide walls, which themselves become part of the show as they are repeatedly punctured by a robotic drill that will eventually perforate the entire exhibition, creating a larger, interconnected space by the time it closes May 25.
The idea is to break down the codes of society that the architects consider a legacy of the modernist era, many of which are driven by a thirst for efficiency. For example, in a work entitled “Bad Press,” Diller + Scofidio looked at methods of ironing men’s dress shirts employed in the early part of the 20th century, which were designed to make a woman’s work at home more economical, freeing her up to join the labor force, while also turning the perfect shirt creases into a status symbol.
Taking the idea a step further, the architects used irons to create new, geometric crease patterns on shirts. (Eagle-eyed fashion observers will note in an accompanying video that the model wearing the results is the architect Calvert Wright, who designed Narciso Rodriguez’s Manhattan apartment, among others, and studied under Diller at Princeton in 1992.)
While provocative, Diller noted, the work may not necessarily break down the existing codes of fashion, an overly ambitious project for any architect.
“Fashion is full of codes — gender codes, age codes and propriety of all sorts,” she said. “They are constantly being challenged and played with. It’s the one place where the codes exceed those of architecture.”