John Seabrook on Zaha Hadid

Published December 22, 2009 by Molly

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John Seabrook’s profile of Zaha Hadid in The New Yorker opens with an image of the architect sequestered in a banquette at a fancy restaurant, talking vigorously as bits of a chicken sandwich go flying from her mouth. Assistants are nearby, fielding the swarm of media constantly attempting to get in touch with Hadid. When the restaurant is deemed too cold, (”It’s impossible. I can’t stand it”) Hadid abruptly leaves. It’s a scene we’ve witnessed countless times before: the difficult, magisterial genius adrift in a hopelessly incompetent universe.

Luckily, Seabrook’s great profile is more than a collection of observed eccentricities. The piece is a mini-overview of Hadid’s childhood in Baghdad and education as an architect as well as a discussion of her influences, from the Russian Suprematist painter Kazimir Malevich to abstraction in general. Of her drawings, Hadid says that

“I wanted to capture a line, and the way a line changes and distorts when you try to follow it through a building, as it passes through regions of light and shadow. You know when you look through a building from a window on the outside, and the line you are following is distorted by the space? That was what I was trying to see with my paintings and my whooshings.”

Check out Seabrook’s article in the print edition of the magazine, and the accompanying audio slideshow here. Both give us a hint of the inner workings of a woman who is nothing if not a mad genius, emphasis on mad. And also genius.

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