Questions for Arakawa and Gins


A few years ago, we had the wonderful opportunity to work extensively with Arakawa and Gins on re-imaginging a primary school. In one of our many exchanges, we drafted a number of questions to send their way, to knead out our respective positions, and search for intersections and alignments.

Having only just rediscovered these questions yesterday, we thought we would repose them here, in a series of prompts. Not unlike Kierkegaard's Victor Eremita, who unearths a manuscript in a secret compartment of a used writing desk, we uncovered the following questions in an old paper shredder. They defied shredding! 

Question #1: The cover of Making Dying Illegal reads, "Think of what it would mean to elementary school children to be greeted thus by their new teacher at the beginning of the school year: Children, I can fairly well promise you that if you study hard and always strive to know the full range of the body's capabilities, you will in all probability not have to die."

There are two critiques of Making Dying Illegal (2006) that must be fleshed out. First, is the title itself. Why use such a provocative title? Of course, it is meant to be contentious, but also, and more importantly, it is meant to be taken seriously. But, how seriously can one take such a concept? Can death truly be overcome? Is reversible destiny possible? What will this concept teach our children? In a peculiar sense, when the statement, or declaration, is reformulated as Making Living Possible, no one seems to object. What would you attribute this to?

The second item to address is the role of the temporal. What function does time play in this formulation? There are so many phrases that can be attributed to a temporal enunciation of existences: "It looks as if his time was up." Or, "She simply ran out of time." Death is most often construed as the ultimate end of life, the terminal point. Or, further still, death is the point of departure to another life. But, the question that is posed here, is: what if this model for the prescription of life is altered and life itself is turned into the plane of resonance? What implications and consequences are there to be incorporated from this transformation? How are we, as parents, to understand time in the spaces you construct?