November 15, 2018 - Canadian Centre for Architecture - Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernist Myths
e-flux Architecture
November 15, 2018
November 15, 2018

Canadian Centre for Architecture

Peter Eisenman, notes and sketches for House VI, Cornwall, Connecticut. © CCA. Dummy cover for Progressive Architecture magazine showing an interior view of House VI, Cornwall, Connecticut. © Reinhold Publication. Photo © Adam Bartos. David Graham, photograph of Langhorne Best Products Showroom by Venturi and Rauch, 1981. © David Graham. W. E. Pierce, letter to Robert Venturi, 1979. Image courtesy of The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania. © The Architectural Archives. Postcard to Charles Moore from student. © Giusti di Becocci Fierenze. Postcards collected by Vincent Scully. © Petley Studio Inc. Vincent Scully’s Kodak slide box, 1969. © Eastman Kodak Inc. Marjery Claghorn, client drawing of Michael Graves’ Claghorn House, 1972. © The Estate of Michael Graves. Trashpack home waste compactor advertisement. © Clark Equipment Company.

Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernist Myths
November 7, 2018–April 7, 2019

Canadian Centre for Architecture
1920 rue Baile
Montréal Québec H3H 2S6
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A counter-reading of postmodern architecture, the exhibition Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernist Myths challenges the beliefs that supported the myth of architecture as an autonomous discipline with accounts of empirically describable architectural activity.

Curated by Sylvia Lavin, the exhibition suggests a reading of the postmodern movement in architecture based not on the images and buildings it produced but on the material evidence that was suppressed in order to maintain the myth of architecture as an irreducibly autonomous and artistic practice—the myth of “architecture itself.”

Lavin explains that, "one version or another or the idea of ‘architecture itself’ has been used by architects to manage the encounters between things operating beyond their individual control. The notion has been called upon since at least the early modern period when the notion that architecture was a godly rather than human matter was invented but postmodernity is what gave the idea the power of myth." Her project repositions the discipline through the presentation of its extraordinarily ordinary and bureaucratic procedures—adhering to building codes, applying for research grants, generating revenue through the art market, patenting architectural designs—and in doing so dismantles postmodernism as a floating signifier and anchors it to the world of things.

The exhibition is organized around seven thematic groupings that each describe the shortcomings of an otherwise mythical aspect of postmodernism. Throughout the CCA's galleries, visitors will encounter re-readings of the neutrality of architecture institutions, the inherent communicative abilities of architecture, the specificity of architectural research techniques, the postmodern architect’s independence from commercial interests and positioning as a humanist, and the artistry that is thought to have produced postmodern images.

Fragments cast off from some of postmodernism’s most recognizable buildings serve as primary source witnesses to the physical actuality that the myth of “architecture itself” has long deemed irrelevant. The fragments—including a staircase from Peter Eisenman’s House I, a window from Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital and Maternity Center, and a beer-can building block from Michael Reynolds’ Earthship Biotecture—are displayed as archaeological artefacts, with extensions in cardboard linking them to the buildings from which they were cast off. The architectural fragments are presented alongside a broad selection of material evidence—invoices, surveys, exhibition posters, reproduced models, travel photography, Xeroxed drawings—to challenge some of postmodernism’s prevailing narratives.

Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernist Myths is curated by Sylvia Lavin together with associate curator Sarah Hearne. The exhibition was designed by Besler & Sons (Princeton/Brooklyn) and its graphic design was done by Chad Kloepfer (Cambridge).

The publication
Architecture Itself and Other Postmodernist Myths continues the CCA's ongoing investigations into how architecture relates to its own past, which have resulted in new readings of key moments in the history of contemporary architecture. Authored by Sylvia Lavin, a forthcoming publication by the same title serves as an extension of the counter-historiography of postmodernism presented in the exhibition. Original texts by Lavin and contributions from sixteen other authors study the material evidence to dismantle the predominant narratives about postmodern architecture and architects. To be released in English and French editions in early 2019, the publication is designed by Anna Haas (Zürich) and co-published by the CCA and Spector Books.

#ArchitectureItself  #CCAexhibitions #readCCA

About the CCA
As an international research centre and museum that operates from the fundamental premise that architecture is a public concern, the CCA investigates the grey zones of contemporary culture, society, and architecture to critically expose contradictions and define a new agenda for architectural practice and scholarship. Founded by Phyllis Lambert in 1979 as a new type of cultural institution, with the specific aim of increasing public awareness of the role of architecture in contemporary society and promoting research in the field, the CCA continues to produce research, exhibitions, publications, public programs, and digital initiatives as a means to explore the role of architecture in larger questions affecting society today. The CCA houses one of the most important architectural collections in the world, and is led by Director Mirko Zardini and Chief Curator Giovanna Borasi. 

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