Local Anxieties: Relocating Architecture in a Global Public Space

 

Wednesday, September 30, 4:30 p.m.
SAIC Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan Ave.
Free and open to the public 

A two-city symposium on the occasion of the inaugural Chicago Architectural Biennial presented by the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York

If art and architecture over the past decade have been working through their increasingly global financing and field of operations, the national, local, and personal consequences of this shift have been but imperfectly charted. Given this unevenness in the debate about the future of our cultural institutions, it is striking to see initiatives like the Chicago Architectural Biennial play the global game against the grain, attracting attention to a city that is both the cradle of 19th-century industrialism in the Western Hemisphere and a refuge for "International Style" modernist architecture that was exiled from Europe in the era of fascism. The return of Chicago as a historical site and a biennial-circuit tourist destination allows us to ask a number of timely questions about the relations of architecture, politics, and the spaces we inhabit. We want not just to raise these questions, but also to suggest answers or at least avenues of research. To that end, we opt for a binocular focus, staging panels both in Chicago during the biennial (at SAIC) and in New York shortly afterward at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Theorist-practitioners located in public art, architecture, urbanism, and the museum will address each other and the larger issues in a dialogic setting in public, with a written publication following in a leading architectural journal.


Panel 1, Chicago (SAIC):
"Death and Afterlife of the Post-Industrial City"

Organized by Mechtild Widrich (SAIC) and Martino Stierli (MoMA)

Wednesday, September 30, 4:30–6:00 p.m.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
SAIC Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan Ave.
free and open to the public

Abstract
The rhetoric of a post-industrial (and post-ideological) society is already a half-century old, but as phenomena like the Chicago Architecture Biennial show, the challenges of articulating narratives of growth and crisis in a metropolis that is no longer primarily a factory town have not declined in complexity. If anything, global networks of trade and tourism expose the limitations of the biologistic imagery of revival and decay, which relies implicitly on a theory of progress or of quasi-natural cycles. This panel invites experts in international modernism, urbanism and race theory, and historic preservation, some of whom themselves practitioners in urban space, to reflect on the realities and the fictions of the postindustrial metropolis as it turns outward.

Speakers included:

Shiben Banerji, Assistant Professor, Art History, Theory, and Criticism, SAIC

Jorge Otero-Pailos, Associate Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University

Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, MoMA

Mabel Wilson, Associate Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University

Mechtild Widrich, Assistant Professor, Art History, Theory, and Criticism, SAIC

This event is co-sponsored by MoMA (New York), the Eikones Institute, the Schapiro Center for Research and Collaboration, and the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects at SAIC.


Panel 2, New York (MoMA):
"Going Global? The Art-Education-Speculation Complex"

Organized by Martino Stierli (MoMA) and Mechtild Widrich (SAIC)

November 18, 2015, 6:00 p.m.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Please RSVP at adevents@moma.org

Abstract
The public face of leading American (and some European) museums and universities has in the past decade increasingly become an extraterritorial one: New York University has branches in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, and the financial center of gravity of the art world (not mention architecture) is steadily shifting eastward. But this speculative growth has also brought controversy, ranging from labor disputes to issues of free speech and collaboration with repressive regimes. What roles do individual academics, museum professionals, and architects play in the minefield of global commerce and publicity? Do innovations like the Chicago Architecture Biennial, with its seeming effort to shift attention west and indeed, into the past (Chicago as great modernist city, as well as site of reclamation), work against or merely manifest a new facet of global capitalism?

Speakers to include:

Kadambari Baxi, Professor at Columbia University, and member of WBYA ("Who Builds your Architecture?")

Sarah Herda, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago

Jacques Herzog, Architect, Herzog & de Meuron, Basel

Glenn D. Lowry, Director of The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, MoMA

Mechtild Widrich, Assistant Professor, Art History, Theory, and Criticism, SAIC

Co-sponsored by the Eikones Institute and the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism of SAIC


Projected Publication
Parts of both conversations will be published in the journal Future Anterior (U of Minnesota Press, Columbia University). 

Sponsored by the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the SAIC in collaboration with the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA, New York and the Eikones Institute (Basel), with additional support from the Shapiro Center for Research and Collaboration and the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects at SAIC.