A Social Philosophy of Buttresses

[Image: The front and back covers of Support Structures].

The last book launch I want to mention today—it seems like the only things going on these days are launches!—is for a fantastic-looking book called Support Structures by Céline Condorelli. The launch is coming up on December 3 at Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York (although Storefront’s website currently has the wrong date listed—see a complete catalog of launch dates here).

UPDATE: The launch has been postponed until January/February 2010—I will mention this again when a date is confirmed.

[Image: From Support Structures].

The book “exposes an almost complete absence of literature or theory on what constitutes ‘support’,” Condorelli suggests, “and therefore the imperative need to create a bibliography on the subject.” Indeed, Condorelli hopes the book will inspire “the creation of the missing bibliography of support structures.” Call it a philosophy of buttresses.

Support Structures is a manual for what bears, sustains, and props, for those things that encourage, care for, and assist; for that which advocates, articulates; for what stands behind, frames, and maintains: it is a manual for those things that give support. While the work of supporting might traditionally appear as subsequent, unessential, and lacking value in itself, this manual is an attempt to restore attention to one of the neglected, yet crucial modes through which we apprehend and shape the world.

While the phrase the work of supporting brings to mind Derrida, the book itself seems to fall somewhere between a catalog of scaffolding, retaining walls, buttresses, archways, keystones, and more—a typology of gravitational resistance—and a call for more generous collaborations in our everyday lives as architects, artists, designers, writers, and more.

The very idea of a “support structure” here becomes a social metaphor for the role of friends and co-conspirators.

[Images: Some page spreads from Support Structures].

In the book’s Foreword, Condorelli describes the “conceptual devices offered by thinking through what a support structure could or might be,” in the process “asking if a universal support structure could be developed.”

Read more about the book courtesy of the publishers, Sternberg Press—and I hope to see some of you at the book launch next month.

4 thoughts on “A Social Philosophy of Buttresses”

  1. I'm amazed I've never seen that font before. Truely original. Like most brilliant things its very simple. Obvious really. Top marks to the designer.

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