Iowa State University Department of Architecture
Public Program 2018-19 Series
In recent years, it has become common practice to embrace the nameless. From efforts to expand the architectural canon, to experimenting with unorthodox modes of practice, the focus of architecture has clearly begun to shift, multiply and reflect upon its focus. If ‘the’ history of architecture that continues to underwrite our practice and thought today built its legitimacy on a willing blindness toward peoples, cultures and practices outside its narrow gaze, the histories we write today increasingly attempt to build more just, inclusive and diverse archives upon which future generations may know a wholly new architecture.
Yet to invoke anonymity is not simply a call for representation—a call to name the nameless. Rather it is to deliberately reflect on the implications, contradictions and struggles of the multiple anonymous relations that dwell uneasily in architecture’s foundations: to think with what architecture does not name. What would it mean to consider architecture, as a profession, a discipline and discourse, from the point of view of its anonymous underbelly—to bear witness to all that remains unnamed in the wake of architectural production?
Eliding the romantic, nostalgic or orientalist tendencies that ‘anonymous’ architectures of the world might suggest, anonymity here seeks to explore the labor networks and disciplinary structures, infrastructures and systems which underpin and make possible the authorship that architecture necessarily narrates. It is an examination of the landscapes and natures that are unmade in order to make architecture. Perhaps even more urgently, we also look to anonymity today because contemporary modes of power and forms of governance work increasingly through networks and sites whose conditions of possibility rest on their anonymity: from big data architectures, programmed environments and algorithmic governance of the ‘quantified self’—projects intimately tied up with contemporary architectural practices—to histories of architecture informed by camps, prisons and other ‘anonymous’ works, the design of space and the modulation of bodies can be seen as a single act. Through the lens of anonymity, we can highlight the intimate and longstanding relation between architecture and subjectivity. By shifting our attention to the architectures of anonymity, architects are questioning how classical modes of subjectivity are eroding rapidly, troubling questions of citizenship, privacy and political agency while paradoxically exacerbating longstanding racialized and gendered asymmetries and the forms of violence they perpetuate. Indeed, to design the anonymous today may be to design power itself, but it may also offer one of the most effective ways in which architects can enact meaningful change.
This year’s Public Program at Iowa State University builds on the previous years’ debates, conversations and interventions, which have at their root the insistent question: what is architecture? Never a singular act, nor a distinct set of processes, the architecture of anonymity identifies a conglomerate of relations that far exceeds its material presentation, bringing into the present a host of histories whose futures it simultaneously mediates. Architecture under neoliberal conditions is more often than not only a small instance of the wider infrastructural, financial, political and environmental networks that constitute it. Reflecting on this condition, this year’s lectures, debates and events hopes to open a creative criticality around the architectures of anonymity.
Fall 2018 Lectures
|Date||Lecturer||Lecture Title||Video Link||Press Release|
|Aug. 24||ISU||Public Programs Launch||None||None|
|Sept. 4||Mohamad Hafez||Unpacked: Refugee Baggage||Upcoming||Here|
|Sept. 7||Kevin Schron||Charles E. “Chick” Herbert Lecture||Upcoming|
|Sept. 19||Wendy Fok||Wendy Fok||Upcoming||Upcoming|
|Sept. 20||Christina Moss||ISU Sponsored Lecture: Christina Moss of Studio Ma||Upcoming||Upcoming|
|Sept. 27||Katja Rinderspacher||Katja Rinderspacher||Upcoming||Upcoming|
|Oct. 17||Jesse LeCavalier||Jesse LeCavalier||Upcoming||Upcoming|
|Oct. 19-20||Mike Nesbit||Mike Nesbit @ Black Contemporary||Upcoming||Upcoming|
|Nov. 9||Forrest Meggers||Forrest Meggers||Upcoming||Upcoming|
Spring 2019 Lectures
Sep 4-Oct 19
Unpacked: Refugee Baggage, Mohamad Hafez Sept. 4 – Oct. Christian Petersen Art Museum
Reception 4:30 – 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, with remarks by Adrienne Gennett at 5:15 p.m.
All Wednesday lectures begin at 5:30pm, and all Friday lectures begin at 5:00pm, held in Kocimski Auditorium, unless otherwise noted. ISU Department of Architecture Lectures are made possible with the support of the Architecture Advisory Council, the Curt F. Dale, Charles E. “Chick” Herbert and Richard F. Hansen endowments, an ISU Women and Diversity Grant, and the Vernon Stone Fund. Additional interdepartmental support comes from Community and regional Planning, Arts and Visual Cultures, Industrial Design, Master of Urban Design and Master of Design of Sustainable Environments Programs. Annual Masterclasses are made possible by a generous donation from OPN Architects.