Sexuality and gender are often implicit burdens in architecture theory. The performative force of the male, western, middle class, heterosexual canon dominates the practices, methodologies, contents and theories, of architectural research. Feminists have pointed out the pretence of an objective, disembodied knowledge producer, and within the discourse of architecture they have pointed out how space often is considered uncritically as a neutral entity that is designed, shaped and used by autonomous subjects. In this paper I will, through a productive relationship between the critical fields of architecture and gender studies, revisit Mårbacka, the memorial estate and former home of author Selma Lagerlöf and her kin to disclose some of the implicit burdens and to draw out a methodology for a theory of action.The paper, which builds on my doctoral dissertation (Bonnevier 2007), consists of different writing modes and genres; a theoretical stage is set up for a couple of performances in writing that attempt to both read and enact building constellations from a queer feminist perspective. Formal concerns are important in the process of writing and performing queer theory, because the political aim, to paraphrase Judith Butler, is to speak in ways that have not yet been legitimized, and hence produce legitimation in new and future forms (Butler 1997; 41). The speaking body always says something it does not intend; it acts in excess of what is said. Shoshana Felman claims that the excess of the speaking body produce powerful scandals which can throw new light on established truths (Felman 1980).In her lecture series ‘A Room of One’s Own’ Virginia Woolf discussed performance, language and misbehavior as critical acts -“whole flights of words would need to wing their way illegitimately into existence before a woman could say what happens when she goes into a room.” (Woolf 1929; 100). Woolf pulls the setting into the plot as a performance in matter. The material conditions – flight of stairs, private rooms, and the act of entering – presented to an audience and subject to interpretation, and the illegitimate words that make possible critical reflection is like a charge from Woolf which sums up the ambitions of this paper; to present a theory of action.
Architectural Inquiries, Nordic architectural research. Göteborg, Sweden. Apr. 24-26, 2008