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David Gissen / California College of the Arts

Gui Auditorium / Knowlton Hall
August 29, 2018 - 5:30pm

David Gissen will present a lecture titled "The Preservation of Disability" in Knowlton Hall’s Gui Auditorium at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 29. Gissen is Professor of Architecture at the California College of the Arts and a historian and theorist with a specialty in environmental histories of architecture, landscape architecture, and urbanism. He is the author of the books Manhattan Atmospheres: Architecture, The Interior Environment and Urban Crisis (University of Minnesota Press, 2014) and Subnature: Architecture's Other Environments (Princeton Architectural Press, 2009), editor of the “Territory” issue of AD Journal (2010) and the book Big and Green (Princeton Architectural Press, 2003). He is the recipient of various awards and grants including Graham Foundation grants, the Richard J. Carroll Lectureship from Johns Hopkins University, and the Chalsty Award at CCA.

Gissen’s essays and research are published in journals such as Grey RoomHarvard Design MagazineAA FilesADCabinet, Forty-five, Uniform, KerbLogQuadernsVolumeThe Radical History ReviewThe Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, The Journal of ArchitectureThe Journal of Architectural EducationTarp, and Thresholds; and magazines, newspapers, and blogs such as Artforum, Architectural RecordArchitectureMetropolisDomusARCADEBldgBlog, Edible Geography, Archinect, Blueprint, Constructs, Singapore ArchitectThe Village Voice, The New York Times,  New Yorker, Huffington Post, and the Atlantic.

In addition to writing works of history and theory, Gissen is committed to exploring alternative and experimental methods of documenting and reconstructing historical environments, spaces and objects, and often turns to advanced digital tools and processes in these efforts. Such work has been exhibited at the 2016 Venice Biennale, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Columbia University, The National Building Museum, Yale Architecture Gallery, Toronto Free Gallery, The Museum of the City of New York, Lower East Side Tenement Museum, WuHo Gallery, and the Nevada Museum of Art.

Gissen lectures on his work internationally, including recent invited talks at Princeton University, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Milan Polytechnic, Berlage Institute, Harvard University, Yale University, The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and The Royal Danish Academy of Art.

In addition to his teaching at CCA, Gissen is a visiting professor in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Columbia University, and the Program in the History, Theory and Criticism of Art and Architectural History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; he has led workshops on his work at several international universities. 

About the lecture

This talk explores how disability perspectives can instruct the future conservation of art and the preservation of architecture. I demonstrate how the fields responsible for identifying and maintaining historic cultural artifacts – chiefly art conservation and architecture preservation -- can reconstruct material aspects of cultural artifacts through the lens of disability -- leaving critical qualities of culture transformed for all. What I call “the preservation of disability” radicalizes existing accessibility strategies that address the different manner in which people interpret and can experience cultural artifacts by bringing alternate forms of interpretation into the very surfaces, stones and aesthetic sensibilities that comprise cultural monuments. This lecture explains why and how that can be done.


Please note that this lecture contains images that might be upsetting to some audiences.