Curating Architecture: Ten Exhibitions for a Journey into Post-war Architecture

Elective, Spring 2016
Léa-Catherine Szacka

IMG_0802Although architects’ graphic and textual production had been exchanged, collected and exposed since the neo-classical period, the act of ‘curating’ architecture has only been amplified in the post-war period. Indeed, in the second half of the twentieth century and up to our days, architecture exhibitions have been important testing grounds, allowing architects to discuss, expand and disseminate their work. Currently, in art history, there has been a new trend in viewing exhibitions as an important part of the historiography of art. Many art historians, such as Bruce Altshuler and Carlos Basualdo, believe that the history of exhibitions can lead to new insights in the history of art. In the same way, looking at the history of architecture through the lens of significant exhibitions is now considered as a valid historiographical method.

This seminar proposes a journey into the history and theory of post-war architecture through the study of ten seminal exhibitions. Traveling from MoMA’s 1932 Modern Architecture: International Style exhibition, 1980’s Venice Architecture Biennale The Presence of the Past, and more recent examples such as the 2011 Barbican OMA/Progress exhibition and the 2014 Fundamentals exhibition at the 14th Venice Architecture Biennale, this seminar is divided into ten sessions, comprising reading, workshops and group discussions.

Each seminar will look at a particular exhibition, previously introduced to students and situated in their specific historical, political and economical context. Key texts will serve to link each exhibition to one or more themes of post-war architecture. This seminar will be an interdisciplinary link between architecture and urbanism and other related fields such as philosophy, visual arts and literature.

The seminar will pursue different objectives. Firstly, it will give students the possibility to analyse and discuss the architecture exhibition as a complex phenomena, showing how different representational forms are used for architecture exhibitions. Secondly, it will allow students to study the relation between architectural representations and different contemporary curatorial practices and strategies. Thirdly, it will help to problematize and critically reflect on the significance of the architecture exhibition with respect to the conceptualisation of architecture in relation to its different audiences. Finally, it will offer a practical and hands-on experience, the final assignment being the planning and production of an architecture exhibition.

 

 
 

Originally posted Jan 24, 2016. Latest revision Jan 23, 2017.

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