Monday 3 March 2008, 18:00
Auditorium SG, EPFL
As part of the exhibition Julius Shulman, photographer
Cold War: Cool Images
“It was beautiful while it lasted. For a brief period, the span of about fifteen years following the end of World War II, America seemed to embrace modern architecture. It was not, as with the International Style exhibition of 1932 at the Museum of Modern Art, the importation of some European ideas repackaged as a style. It was the development of a whole new mode of operation, one that fascinated Europe in the same way that European models had once fascinated the United States. Indeed, it would seem that the Europeans were more fascinated by the new American models than Americans themselves were. As Alison and Peter Smithson put it:
“There has been much reflection in England on the Eames House. For the Eames House was a cultural gift parcel received here at a particularly useful time. The bright wrapper has made most people-especially Americans-throw the content away as not sustaining. But we have been brooding on it-working on it-feeding on it.”
British architects were absorbing American architecture through the pages of architectural magazines, in the same way that they were absorbing other products of postwar America through advertisements in popular journals. Modern architecture was part of a general fascination, as attractive and colorful as the other products of the Good Life: the cars, the appliances, the food, the toys, the furniture, the dresses, and the lawns. It was yet another well-packaged, consumable object-a desirable image, good enough to eat”.
Beatriz Colomina is an internationaly renowned architectural historian and theorist who has written extensively on questions of architecture and media. Her books include Privacy and Publicity : Modern Architecture as Mass Media (Cambridge, The MIT Press, 1994), which was awared the 1995 International Book Award by the American Institute of Architects, Sexuality and Space (New York, Priceton Architectural Press, 1992), which was awarded the 1993 International Book Award by the American Institute of Architects; and Architecture production (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1992). Her most recent books are Doble exposicion Arquitectura a través del arte (Madrid, Akal, 2006) and Domesticity at War (Barcelona: ACTAR and MIT Press, 2007). In addition she has published Cold War Hot Houses Inventing Postwar Culture from Cockpit to Playboy, co-edited with AnnMarie Brennan and Jeannie Kim (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2004). Colomina has taught in the School since 1998, and she is the Fournding Director of the Program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University, a graduate program that promotes the interdisciplinarity study of forms of culture that came to prominence during the last century and looks at the interplay between culture and technology. In 2006-2007 she curated, with a group of Princeton Ph.D students, the exhibition “Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X-197X” at the Storefreont for Art and Architecture in New York and the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) in Montreal. The show will travel to several cities in USA, Europe and Asia starting with Documenta 12 in Kassel and The Architectural Association in London. She is the recipient of many fellowships including the Foundation le Corbusier, CASVA and the CCA. Currently she is a Senior Mellon Fellow at the CCA and is working on his next research project “X-Ray Architecture: Illness as Metaphor”. She received the 2005 President’s Award for distinguished Teaching from Princeton University.