“The envy and hostility of Wall Street leads many to a common goal: to amass enough money so as to enact your revenge. This end goal is called fuck-you money.” -Alexis Goldstein, former VP Deutsche Bank turned Occupy Wall Street activist.
Enacting revenge ‘merely’ through the amassment of large sums of money requires wealth to be rendered highly conspicuous, and commissioning fuck-you architecture is one of the ways this has always been done. The enemy against whom revenge is sought needs to be made to appear visibly less filthy-rich and therefore inferior, requiring a public indoctrinated by luxury-product advertising to be able to discern subtle but important differences between brands and goods for which the vast majority is not in the market.
Donald Trump, the magnate who seemingly wants to become president of the USA just so he can say “fuck you” to the entire world (this is seemingly what he believes would make America great again) made his fortune as a purveyor of fuck-you real estate. His towers represent nothing more than raised middle fingers on a large scale; an architecture parlante par excellence.
Indeed, what is the tiresome race to build the world’s tallest skyscraper if not a global competition between fuck-you cities? Or, by extension, the subtler but essentially similar race to build the longest cantilever? Architecture culture has always been characterized by a great degree of fuck-you one-upmanship (including fuck-upmanship in some cases).
When Frank Gehry infamously raised his middle finger at an architecture critic during a press conference upon winning the 2014 Principe de Asturias art award in Oviedo, Spain, was he perhaps announcing a late-career turn toward fuck-you architecture, albeit of an ‘artier’ variety than Trump’s or Dubai’s? After all, his work has long been inextricably linked with his otherwise charismatic personality.
If buildings, cars, and clothes can have “fuck you” written all over them, then what about entire towns and cities? We know that gated communities have always represented an example of fuck-you urbanism. But something is clearly wrong when the city of Barcelona revamps an historical public space into a fuck-you infrastructural facility: the recent conversion of Port Vell (the old port) into a catwalk for showing off fuck-you money in the form of fuck-you super-yachts large enough to contain entire fuck-you contemporary art collections.
Tax havens such as Panama, the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, The British Virgin Islands, Andorra etc. constitute entire fuck-you nations, directing their middle finger at all those loser nations where the poor and middle class carry the tax burden thanks to fuck-you governments like Cameron’s or Putin’s.
We live in arrogant times, alas. But let’s hope that all this fuck-you shit will ultimately serve some good by fostering a drastic change of attitude; one that could lead the way toward a new love-you architecture. This would of course necessitate love-you urbanism, love-you infrastructure, and love-you government, not to mention the hand-over of every last cent of all that hidden-away fuck-you money.