Not Only Are We Not Infinite, We Are Not Even Finite: Curtis Roth

Banvard Gallery / Knowlton Hall
April 16, 2014 - 7:00pm to August 29, 2014 - 5:00pm

About the Show

The Banvard Gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.. The Gallery is located on the first floor of Knowlton Hall on the campus of The Ohio State University. The exhibit Not Only Are We Not Infinite, We Are Not Even Finite: The Collected Work of The Superimpossible Group opens at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16 and will run through the summer. Opening night will feature a lecture by exhibitor Curtis Roth, the Knowlton School's 2013-14 LeFevre Emerging Practitioner Fellow, at 5:30 p.m. on the Knowlton Big Stairs and reception. The lecture, reception and exhibit are free and open to the public.

Abstract

Lefevre Exhibition Description: Draft 01

On June 25th 1970 in a small shop in Florence, Italy, the Florence-based architectural group Superstudio ended architecture in a performance piece entitled Hidden Architecture. It was a relative non-event: a short project description, fourteen photographs, a letter from a lawyer friend and the group’s resumes; stuck in the back pages of a now-defunct publication and preceded by fireworks of every imaginable genre. Most folks barely noticed, in fact, the funny thing about architecture’s end is that it kept going as if nothing had ever happened. But nobody felt the same anymore. More and more, ends didn’t seem to align so clearly with means, and a shadow of doubt was cast on the whole enterprise. As for Superstudio, they called it all off, left for the Italian countryside, nobody has heard from them in a while now. This is an exhibition which documents the photographic archive associated with Superstudio’s 1970 enactment of architecture’s end.

Lefevre Exhibition Description: Draft 02

But this all seems too straightforward, not to mention unproductive to rehash the same tired story of post-modernity’s beginnings over and over again. Nobody wants to see a show about that. In fact, the magic of Hidden Architecture is that no matter how many times one examines the photographs, it’s impossible to tell whether anything actually happened at all. Once you get past its initial didactic brutality the whole thing becomes a little opaque. By the way, how do you devote an exhibition to an architectural performance which only-ever half happened?

Lefevre Exhibition Description: Draft 03

As it turns out, Hidden Architecture didn’t just have fourteen photographs but something like two hundred, documented on two separate cameras at once. It’s a peculiar irony that a performance about hiding architecture itself has an alternative performance hidden in its own photographic archive. Loose ends for architecture’s end. I wonder what would have happened had Superstudio read their own performance on slightly altered terms? Perhaps everything would have turned out differently. Maybe not.

Lefevre Exhibition Description: Draft 04

Not Only Are We Not Infinite, We Are Not Even Finite is a retrospective exhibition exploring three projects by the architectural group Superimpossible, a Florence-based studio founded within the errors, misreadings and loose ends contained in the photographic archive of Superstudio’s 1970 performance piece Hidden Architecture. They produce architecture as an analogical device for speculating on a single 1970 performance in a collection of diverse and largely-incompatible ways. Their work examines the peculiar after-lives of architecture’s modernity within the legal frameworks that govern architectural authorship, the compositional strictures of architectural professionalism and the history of erasing architectural drawings.


Some of the show’s relevant themes include: Impossible utopian geometries, the architectural theories of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, and how to live twice at the same time.

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