This talk explores brutalist architecture and creative activism in locations such as Caracas, London, and Venice. It argues that the current, popular fascination with brutalism is part of the same, larger phenomenon that has led to the recent explosion of interest in postindustrial ruin aesthetics, which has its roots in an anxiety over the ways in which globalization is transforming urban space, reshaping the built environment, and exacerbating social-spatial divisions. The talk focuses on a case study that combines brutalism and ruin aesthetics in a new, hybrid form specific to the era of globalization: the Torre David, an unfinished corporate skyscraper in Caracas that was occupied by the city’s poor and temporarily transformed into a vertical squat. Adapting Arjun Appadurai’s concept of spectral housing, the talk considers how the photographic and filmic treatment of Torre David’s “concrete chic” produces a transnational spectacle of the abject. For from being subversive, this spectacle ultimately reinforces contemporary urbanism’s addiction to gentrification, stylized boutique living, and glossy, generic architecture.
Christoph Lindner is Professor and Dean of the College of Design at the University of Oregon and Honorary Research Professor in Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. His work focuses on the interrelations between globalization, cities, and creative practice. Recent book publications include Imagining New York City (Oxford University Press, 2015), as well as the edited volumes Deconstructing the High Line (Rutgers University Press, 2017), Global Garbage (Routledge, 2016), Cities Interrupted (Bloomsbury, 2016), and Paris-Amsterdam Underground (Amsterdam University Press, 2013). He is currently working on a new book about creative slow practices in global cities.
Lunch begins at 11:45. Space is limited, RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.