Hejduk the Haiduc

April 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

I am reading an essay by Bob Somol (“One or several masters”, in Hejduk’s Cronotope) – he says that the surname Hejduk can be related to the word “hajdu/hajduk” which means Balkan outlaw. Somol refers to a Hungarian root, but I just realized now that Hejduk totally sounds like the Romanian “haiduc”, which, again, stands for outlaw. A very specific kind of outlaw – the kind that lives a rough life in the wilderness and fights the established power (Ottoman rule, bloodthirsty feudal lords, etc).

And Somol is right, it is a perfect description of Hejduk’s brilliant work. Uncompromising, poetic, it flirts with the absurd and the uncanny. Metaphoric architecture is naive, but Hejduk dares to be symbolic tout court, outrageously so, and in this daring game he comes out the winner. He restores to architecture all the existential, experiential content that functionalism had stripped it bare of. But in Somol’s interpretation, Hejduk also uses irony to displace the accepted role of architecture – something I had not quite realized before, awed by the dramatic quality of his texts. So, I can only encourage you all to go back to Hejduk the Haiduc and open again his books with a fresh mind and to look for the Haiduc within Hejduk – something I’m eager to do as soon as I’ll get back from work later today. I’ll keep you posted on what I’ll find.

(Image: John Hejduk, Berlin Masque)

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