Session G:

Felicity D. Scott: Complex Territories

April 24-26, 1-4 PM


Tuesday, April 25, 7PM

Public Lecture

ArtCenter/DOWNTOWN (1035 N. Miami Avenue, 3rd Floor)

How do (or might) art, architecture, and other cultural practices respond to situations of political urgency? What are the risks in so doing? How do (or might) such practices address or even inhabit the convoluted topology of shifting borders and border regimes as they operate in the context of conflict and processes of neoliberal globalization? And, once more, what are the risks in so doing?  Borders, as we know, function not only as structures of inclusion and exclusion but as figures of “inclusive exclusion” and “exclusive inclusion”; in a paradoxical manner, they not only mark distinctions but also perpetuate the increasing indistinction between “inside” and “outside,” citizen and foreigner, access and foreclosure, “us” and “them” at play within contemporary social, political, and geopolitical landscapes.  The workshop “Complex Territories” will set out to interrogate this nexus of art, architecture, power, and politics—a nexus at once familiar but transforming—questioning both the limits and the potentials of disciplinary concepts, discourses, practices, formats, and institutional frameworks, and reading disciplinary demarcations to be both unstable and always and already imbricated within larger and overlapping apparatuses of power.  We will ask how or in what registers we can understand the relation of aesthetic practices to questions of insecurity, humanitarian emergency, biopolitical forms of governance, protest, struggle, etc. and we will work to identify inherent fluidities, ambiguities, and hence opportunities for them to operate otherwise.  To this end we will ask how to institute spaces of (or time for) reflection, witness, and analytical work, even new narratives and semantic valences that render visible and articulable the many forms of violence at play in order that they might be attended to differently.

The workshop will begin with a series of shared theoretical readings, but recent events and contemporaneous news will be equally key to our discussions.  To this end, on the second of the three-day workshop, participants will be asked to bring a news clipping—print or online, whether text or video—that bears on a particular border—social, subjective, territorial, geopolitical, disciplinary, etc., evident or otherwise.  The final outcome of the workshop will take the form of speculative proposals for sites and formats or “operating platforms” of intervention, which will be discussed on the final day.

Felicity D. Scott is director of the PhD program in Architecture (History and Theory), and co-director of the program in Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture (CCCP) at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University. Seeking to expand and complicate the subject matter and methodological frameworks through which modern and contemporary architectural practices are addressed, her academic work pays attention to the institutions, discourses, and media-technical formats (exhibitions, publications, time-based media, etc.) that, along with broader social, economic, scientific, environmental, political, and geopolitical forces, have helped shape and define the discipline.  In addition to publishing numerous articles in journals, magazines, and edited anthologies, she has published Architecture or Techno-Utopia: Politics After Modernism (MIT Press, 2007), Living Archive 7: Ant Farm (ACTAR, 2008), Disorientation: Bernard Rudofsky in the Empire of Signs (Sternberg Press, 2016), and Outlaw Territories: Environments of Insecurity/Architectures of Counter-Insurgency (Zone Books, 2016).