‘Brasilia Is Blood on a Tennis Court’

Julia Kristeva’s ‘Semiotic’ and the Embodied Metaphors of Lispector


  • Kris Pint Hasselt University, Faculty of Architecture and Arts




In this article, I want to argue that literature can function as a supplementary form of knowledge in architecture criticism. The phenomenology of architecture often uses literature as an ideal instrument to gain knowledge about the built environment, revealing the subtleties of architectural memories, sensations and affects. However, Julia Kristeva’s take on literature provides a more radical interpretation of the literary experience as a limit-experience. Kristeva’s notion of the ‘semiotic’ allows for a use of literature that critically rethinks the phenomenological relation between the body and architectural structures. It also allows to explore other, more associative ways of writing about architecture. I will discuss Clarice Lispector’s literary, experimental and embodied account of Brasilia as a possible inspiration for such an approach. I will focus on the metaphor as a way in which the semiotic can express itself in literary language, challenging fixed interpretations and connecting different fields of perception and affection.

Author Biography

Kris Pint, Hasselt University, Faculty of Architecture and Arts

Kris Pint is associate professor of cultural theory and artistic research at the Faculty of Architecture and Arts at Hasselt University (Belgium). His research focuses more specifically on how literature, interior architecture and visual arts help explore alternative possibilities of living, dwelling, and knowing.


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