May 18, 2020 - Performa - Bodybuilding
e-flux Architecture
May 18, 2020
May 18, 2020


Aldo Rossi, Il Teatro del Mondo (Theater of the World) sailing past Piazza san Marco in Venice in 1979. © Eredi Aldo Rossi. Courtesy Fondazione Aldo Rossi. Photo: Antonio Martinelli.

Architecture and Performance
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Performa presents Bodybuilding, a free online exhibition that examines the use of live performance by architects and charts a multigenerational lineage of designers and studios who have made architecture out of actions. The exhibition takes place on Radical Broadcast, the organization’s online channel at

The exhibition is dedicated to Germano Celant (1940–2020).

The central question of Bodybuilding is: What happens when performance enters the world of architecture? For architects, performance can be a method for designing, a tool to transform users’ experiences, or an instrument of critique. In every case, performance is a blade that cuts into the matter of architecture. It slashes architecture open, but it can also reshape it.

Bodybuilding features rare archival material from some of the most adventurous minds of postwar architecture, including Anna and Lawrence Halprin’s experiential scores, Arata Isozaki’s dancing robot-buildings at Osaka Expo ’70, Moore Grover Harper’s live urban planning charrettes on local television, and Aldo Rossi’s Teatro del Mondo, a floating theater that sailed through the Venice lagoon in 1979. These iconic works offer an alternative historical lineage for architects today, such as Cooking Sections, Andrés Jaque, Bryony Roberts and Mabel O. Wilson, or Wolff Architects, who have turned to performance in the face of new political, economic, and environmental challenges.

Germano Celant, a dear friend of Performa, coined the phrase “radical architecture” in 1972 for the catalogue of MoMA’s landmark exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape. His analysis, which solidified burgeoning conceptual strategies of a new generation of architects, remains a touchstone today for the questions of space, performance, and responsibilities of the architect that animate Bodybuilding.

Bodybuilding is curated by Charles Aubin (Performa, New York) and Carlos Mínguez Carrasco, (ArkDes, Stockholm) and includes works by Ant Farm, Basurama + Area Ciega, Ricardo Bofill, Cooking Sections, Coop Himmelblau, Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency, Diller Scofidio + Renfro and David Lang, Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman, Fake Industries Architectural Agonism, Didier Fiúza Faustino, Anna and Lawrence Halprin, Haus-Rucker-Co, Hans Hollein, Arata Isozaki and Associates, Andrés Jaque / Office for Political Innovation, Francis Kéré and Christoph Schlingensief, Ugo La Pietra, Moore Grover Harper, New Affiliates, NLÉ, OMA, Gaetano Pesce, Julieanna Preston, raumlabor, Jimmy RobertBryony Roberts and Mabel O. Wilson with the Marching Cobras of New York, Aldo Rossi, Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley, SO – IL with Anna Prvački, Bernard Tschumi, Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas, and Wolff Architects.

Bodybuilding is supported by the NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund of The New York Community Trust and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.

The online exhibition Bodybuilding is an extension of Performa’s most recent publication of the same title—the first book to survey and examine the use of performance as a critical tool to rethink architecture, its agency, its goals, and its aesthetics. Bodybuilding (2019) is distributed by Artbook/D.A.P.

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