Preservation for Now
As a practice, architectural preservation is most often directed towards an ideal of permanence, perpetuity, or perpetual care, a mindset buttressed by a set of national and multi-state legal codes, pacts, foundations and administrative bodies. Yet for those “on the ground” caring for the built environment – especially the built environment understood as a material deposit of diverse cultures and stories – typically involves a limited set of resources better suited to interventions with a smaller scope, duration, scale and cost. Rather than dismissing such actions as compromised forms of long-term, state-supported conservation, this seminar will consider the potentials of the nimble, experimental and ephemeral modes of a “preservation for now.” In a sense, such projects recapture the original spirit of the German term for building conservation: “Denkmalpflege” a composite of “thinking” (denken), “nourishing” (pflegen), and a sense of “this time,” or “the now” (diesmal). During the seven-week course we will move briskly through a sequence of historically situated case studies organized according to the scope of the preservationist intervention: from the small and the short, to the medium and the memorable, to the large and the longer term. The aim is to short-circuit any ingrained preconceptions of what it means to preserve a building. Could a preservation action be designed to fail? Should we, following Lucia Allais, think of preservation as a “controlled disappearance”? or, following David Gissen, as a “public agitation”? or, following Mari Lending, as a kind of “vandalism in reverse”? Can a performance act as preservation? We will address such questions while working on a book project intended to preserve some aspects of our collective discussions and research.
NOTE: This seminar runs in conjunction with a propositions studio taught by Anca Trandafirescu. Enrollment will be by permission after balloting is completed.
Tue 8:30-11:30am 2222 A&AB