The Berlage


Institutional Voices of the Recent Past

This online afternoon symposium looks at the production of architectural discourse by institutions during the postmodern period. The period spanning from the mid 1960s to the early 1990s was characterized by a particularly intense production of discourse be it written, visual, built, or oral. Directly partaking in this discursive production were a series of new institutions—including the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS), the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), the Deutsch Architecture Museum (DAM), or the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI)—that intensified, expanded, diversified, and further globalized exchanges and discussions in and around architecture.

What role did these institutions play in the construction of postmodernism as a discursive formation? What were the power dynamics and modes of representation at play in and between these institutions? How was the production of discourse parallel or superimposed to the built production? How did each of these institutions define the term “postmodern” and/or implement an institutional strategy that we could qualify as “postmodern”? How can oral history be used as a prime methodology to research these institutional histories?

Speakers will include Kim Förster, lecturer, The University of Manchester; Federica Vannucchi, adjunct associate professor, Pratt Institute; Sergio Figueiredo, assistant professor, Eindhoven University of Technology; and Patrick Zamarian, lecturer, Liverpool School of Architecture.

This symposium is organized in conjunction with the “Voices of the Recent Past” proseminar taught at the Berlage by Lea-Catherine Szacka. The proseminar focuses on a particular form of architectural production: i.e. discourse. It starts from the hypothesis that analyzing architectural discourse from an institutional perspective is a productive research methodology in the writing of architectural history, especially in the postmodern period. The aim is to expose “voices” of the recent past based on a series of interviews (recorded, transcribed and annotated) with protagonists of the postmodern scene (architects but also, curators, gallery owners, critics, editors, educators, and so on) that, together, have shaped the architectural “discourse” during the postmodern period.

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