New York architect John Hejduk (1929-2000) was invited to submit a project for the “Nine Projects for Nine Cities” section of the XVII Triennale di Milano in 1986. Inspired by maps and photographs of Milan, his project for the city’s Bovisa district was an “apocryphal architectural vision” in which the names of streets, cemeteries, and hospitals served as the basis for an architectural hallucination. Inhabited by mythical characters performing strange rituals in constructions that are both machine and building, Bovisa was conceived not as a proposition bound by time and place, but as a series of pictorial ciphers. Hejduk combined the figurative conventions of painting and the iconographic power of architecture to illustrate disturbing scenarios.
Throughout his career, he increasingly used narrative as a programmatic device for the development of architectural ideas. Drawings and language were the means by which Hejduk contributed to theoretical discussions of the dissociation of human from architectural object. Hejduk’s ideas were carried through drawing and print rather than ‘building,’ and his archive at the CCA is the central record of his work.