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  • The rise of the curator and architecture on display.

Steierhoffer, Eszter, 2016, Thesis, The rise of the curator and architecture on display. PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This thesis constitutes a new approach to contemporary exhibition studies, a field of research that has until now dedicated little attention to connections between exhibitions of contemporary art and those of architecture. The late 1970s saw a 'historical turn' in the architectural discourse, which alluded to the rediscovery of history, after its abandonment by all the Modern masters, and developed in close alignment with architecture’s project of autonomy. This thesis proposes a reading of this period in relation to the formative moment for contemporary curatorial practices that brought art and architecture together in unprecedented ways. It takes its starting point from the coexisting and often contradictory spatial representations of art and architecture that occur in exhibitions, which constitute the inherently paradoxical foundations – and legacy – of today’s curatorial discourse.
The timeframe of the late 1970s, which is this study’s primary focus, marks the beginning of the institutionalisation of the architecture exhibition: The opening of the Centre Pompidou in Paris (1977), the founding of ICAM in Helsinki (1979), and the first official International Architecture Biennale in Venice (1980), all of which promoted architecture within the museum. This period also saw the idealism of the social, political and artistic revolutions of 1968 finally dissipate, marking the emergence of a new conservatism. The concurrent postmodernisation of the cultural discourse, together with the post- industrial era’s changing economic climate, prompted a need to redefine the purpose and position of the architectural profession. The resulting new architecture not only developed within the space of art, but also substantially reshaped it, provoking numerous artistic and curatorial responses, which continue to this day.
In order to explore and elucidate the connections between the fields of architecture, contemporary art and curatorial practices, the chapters consider the often-overlapping notions of architecture as object, concept, process, media and context through period case studies, including examples of the ‘void shows’ and artist museums, Ungers’ building of the DAM, Friedman’s Street Museum, Frankfurt’s Museumsufer, Matta-Clark’s and Kabakov’s respective practices and Portoghesi’s ‘Strada Novissima’ at the first Venice Biennale of Architecture. Surveying the separate models of architectural displays, drawn from different institutional and disciplinary contexts of the late 1970s and early 1980s, this thesis questions how these different exhibition typologies have expanded the definition of architecture. It also investigates the ways in which contemporary curatorial and art practices have been informed and shaped by architecture, and, how these curatorial representations of architecture adhere to the wider cultural, political and economic contexts. Ultimately, the thesis reconsiders the past as a way to grasp the present, and, through the analysis of the socio-political and economic contexts of the case studies, it builds a critique of the globalised hyper-acceleration of contemporary curatorial production.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Other > RCA Additional Subjects > Curating
Architecture > K100 Architecture
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2016 15:27
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2016 15:29
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1815

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