Barry Bergdoll: Out of site/In plain view (February 5, 2014)

Barry Bergdoll begins by surveying the popularity and ubiquity of architecture exhibitions, noting the rise to prominence of the curator’s voice. He proposes understanding architecture exhibitions as part of the invention of a self-conscious modernism that has repeatedly changed architecture for the last 250 years. Bergdoll stresses the promotional exhibitions of the 1760s, such as the Society of Arts in London, and the Academy in Paris, where architects exhibited drawings, prints or paintings of unrealized buildings. The first curator in the modern sense of the term, according to Bergdoll, was Alexandre Lenoir, who as first director of the revolutionary Musée des monuments français, worked not only to preserve culturally significant structures, but to change their cultural meaning from monuments of tyranny to cultural patrimony. Bergdoll surveys some of the decisive architectural exhibitions of early modernism, which presented a spatial experience rather than a narrative. Bergdoll concludes with discussions of two of his projects at MOMA, Rising Currents (2010) and Foreclosed (2012), as part of a long tradition of architectural exhibitions that are not passive mirrors of current trends, but actively creating possibilities.

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