11/05/2013

On the road to… Criticism

First, my apology for being less productive these last weeks. The reasons? A huge volume of works and… a leg in a cast due to a severe injury.
And I'll be again less productive the following months given that I'm working on projects I've already discussed here: Dziga Press, including Uncertain Territories's first volume.

I'll be visiting Close, Closer (Lisbon Architecture Triennale) early December (note that the event will close its doors December 12, or I may be wrong). I hope my left leg will recover before December. My apology for this aparté (private information).

There is also this interview with InfraNet Lab's co-director Neeraj Bhatia, and also director of The Open Workshop. The interview, I announced in previous posts, may go to another platform. Whether it goes to another platform or not, I'll let you know as soon as it will be clear and official.

And again I present my apology as I will merely propose for today another announcement. Yet, along with a previous post on Think Space's call for competition for this new edition Money, this announcement seems particularly interesting.

The 36th issue of Volume, Ways to be Critical, examined two important points in the age of social networks: 1) the value of criticism; 2) the crisis of publishing. The question this 36th issue poses is how these crises impact the discipline of architecture from practice to writing.


Critic|all will pursuing the theme with the 1st International Conference on Architectural Design & Criticism. I'm reminded of a series of conferences on the same theme but in the field of art. It was in the 1990s. Over the past two decades, a group of critics, theorists, curators and artists has examined the transformation of criticism from the scale of writing to that of the exhibition in the age of globalization, and then the Internet. To a large extent, The Exhibitionist, this excellent little journal devoted to contemporary curatorial practices and exhibition making, constitutes a very good example among others. The journal, founded in 2010, continues the discussion producing a critical platform to polemically discuss, evaluate debates , research, exhibitions and books on the topics of curating.
For those interested in this subject, I suggest to read (again) Nicolas Bourriaud's Relational Aesthetics and Postproduction, Liam Gillick: Proxemics Selected Essays, 1988-2006, Maria Lind: Selected Writing, Daniel Birnbaum's Chronology, The power of Judgement: A Debate on Aesthetic Critique co-edited by Christoph MenkeDaniel Loick, Daniel Birnbaum and Isabelle Graw, of course Hans Ulrich Obrist's essays and interviews, the unfortunately hard-to-find In the Place of the Public Sphere? edited by Simon Sheikh… The list is long. Note that these books are published by independent publishers, many of them from Germany such as (my favorite) Sternberg Press. I will include (two other favorite) American Dexter Sinister, and French Les Presses du Réel and Paraguay Press.
Back to our field. Architecture is taking the same road with a real enthusiasm as it has been unfolded in the Volume's latest issue. Below a short presentation of Critic|all:

Trying to go beyond debates between pragmatism and utopia, the conference calls for criticism and reflects on the ambiguous area where the concepts of utopian pragmatism and pragmatic utopianism cross. To do so, three main topics have been defined: what position can today' architect adopt and how have others done it before? What are their methods? What are the new formats in architecture?
These two large-scale events The Oslo Architecture Biennale and Lisbon Architecture Triennale can constitute a good basis for an evaluation of the debate on the value of criticism in the discipline of architecture. As mentioned above I'll be in Lisbon from December 7th to 10th. It will be an occasion to measure this enthusiasm as mentioned above. 

What ideas, provocative positions will arise from Critic|allIt is obvious that this conference will attempt to generate, encourage, foster the diversification of opinion, debate and, at least I hope, disagreement on criticism in architecture. I also hope that curating will be added as an important topic since curating seems to occupy a much more critical place, I would say, similar to writing and publishing. Curating architecture can no longer merely play the role of communication. It now acts as a manifesto. It must actively provide, provoke, stimulate debate, disagreement, assessment, be it positively or not, provocative or not, politically or not. 

Critic|all will be at the Escuela Tecnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid from June 12 to 14, 2014. Abstract submissions must be sent before November 30, 2013. Please go to Critic|all for further information. 









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