September 17, 2012
‘Utopie Dynamit’ (1976) by Gunter Rambow; All images: Museum of Modern Art
When Pedro Gadanho assumed his position as the MoMA’s new curator of contemporary architecture last fall, the country–New York City in particular–was a very different place. The Occupy fever was in full swing, spreading virally from city to city and reverberating in the streets, across public squares, and within university quads. The notion that architecture could actually channel and even shape the frustrations of a populace was, for the first time in a long time, beginning to take hold as viable public opinion. Of course, the opposite is also true–perhaps, more so, as OWS’ Sisyphean struggle to retain Zuccotti Park illustrates. Just as architecture can be yielded toward constructive social ends, so can it be used maliciously as a tool of containment and reprehension.
“Notes and Sketches on a New Museum of Modern Art” (1999) by Yona Friedman
Naturally, architects threw themselves into the fray, boisterously engaging in the debate on blogs and on the ground. Gadanho took notice, but was surprised at the novelty of a politicized architecture being advanced by a new generation of students and practitioners. The origins of architecture, he explained at last week’s press preview of his first MoMA exhibition, were wrapped up in politics, and therefore, diffused in its very fabric ever since. That show, ‘9 + 1 Ways of Being Political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design‘, collects contemporary manifestations of this theme, teasing out the political substratum that has grounded the discourse of architecture from the 60s up to today. Continue.