Tina Di Carlo, PhD candidate in the OCCAS research project Place and Displacement: Exhibiting Architecture, defended her dissertation The Construction of an Exhibition within Architecture Culture: Deconstructivist Architecture, The Museum of Modern Art, 1988. The members of the adjudication committee were professor Philip Ursprung, ETH, Zürich, associate professor Patricia Morton, University of California, Riverside, and Dr Thomas McQuillan, Head of the Department of Architecture, AHO.
The 1988 Deconstructivist Architecture exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, curated by Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley, was a minor exhibition that forced architecture to change directions. The ten-week exhibition showed ten projects by seven architects, staged in three galleries. Polemics surrounded the exhibition. These polemics, coupled with Johnson’s reputation and the extreme formal reduction of the show, fueled interest within the press. The timing of the exhibition was integral to its effect. It coincided with the proliferation of architecture exhibitions and museums across America and Europe. They reflected pluralistic and historical positions in architecture, while new technologies and the media as the message reflected broader cultural conditions. Deconstructivist Architecture is often thought to have dealt a death knell to postmodern architecture. Yet beyond the beginning or end of a style or movement, could Deconstructivist Architecture be considered instead, as Sylvia Lavin suggests in her 1988 review of the exhibition, “as a critical methodology and analytical strategy?” The Construction of an Exhibition within Architecture Culture: Deconstructivist Architecture, The Museum of Modern Art, 1988 looks at the apparatus of the exhibition to question what the exhibition constructed and what in turn constructed it. Charting the ten years leading up to the exhibition and well as the reception before and after the show, Di Carlo looks at the ways in which the Deconstructivist Architecture exhibition ushered in a cultural shift.