A lecture on the disorderly architecture of 1970s artist and activists in the United States.
Beverly Buchanan (American, 1940-2015). Untitled (Slab Works 1), circa 1978 – 80. Black-and-white photograph of cast concrete sculptures with acrylic paint in artist studio, 8 1/2 × 11 inches. Private collection.
While urban planning in the middle of the last century in Europe and the US was indelibly influenced by the plans for social order and control produced by Le Corbusier and his acolytes, by the 1970s small groups of activists and artists envisioned another kind of city, one which emphasised access and revelled in the disorderly arrangements of transport, buildings and life that cities fostered, created and sustained.
For Le Corbusier, architecture was the structural answer to a social problem, but for Gordon Matta Clark, the artist who coined the term “anarchitecture,” architectural resolutions were the gateway to massive new problems for the city’s poor and unhoused. "Anarchitecture,” he proposed, “seeks to solve no problem.” Matta Clark built emptiness into abandoned forms, organic shapes into collapses architectures, and he made the demolition site into a monument to the minor, the fallen, the forgotten. Another group of mostly queer Black artists (Alvin Baltrop, Beverly Buchanan and others) also turned to demolition. In this talk I will lay out an aesthetics of collapse based on readings of their work.
Co-presented by the Power Institute and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.
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Jack Halberstam is the David Feinson Professor of The Humanities at Columbia University. Halberstam is the author of seven books including: Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Duke UP, 1995), Female Masculinity (Duke UP, 1998), In A Queer Time and Place (NYU Press, 2005), The Queer Art of Failure (Duke UP, 2011), Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Beacon Press, 2012) and, a short book titled Trans*: A Quick and Quirky Account of Gender Variance (University of California Press). Halberstam’s latest book, 2020 from Duke UP is titled Wild Things: The Disorder of Desire. Places Journal awarded Halberstam its Arcus/Places Prize in 2018 for innovative public scholarship on the relationship between gender, sexuality and the built environment. Halberstam is now finishing a second volume on wildness titled: Unworlding: An Aesthetics of Collapse. Halberstam was recently the subject of a short film titled “So We Moved” by Adam Pendleton which played at MoMA NYC until January 30, 2022.