• Interpretations: Discerning Fictions

    Interpretations: Discerning Fictions
    new york NEW YORK

    Third annual symposium hosted by the Critical, Curatorial, & Conceptual Practices in Architecture class of 2014, GSAPP, Columbia University. The symposium will take the form of a series of roundtable seminars with invited guests from varied backgrounds. In each roundtable, panelists will briefly present a provocation, statement, or paragraph responding to the day’s thematic concerns, oscillating between architecture, writing, and exhibition-making.

    symposium: “Interpretations: Discerning Fictions” with EASTERLING, LAI, MARTÍNEZ, NIERMANN, de OSTOS, VON SCHLEGELL, SCOTT, WASIUTA, & WIGLEY
    Saturday, 04/20
    12.30 pm / Studio-X NYC
    180 Varick St.
    New York, NY 10014


    The panelists will discuss for one hour, followed by an open conversation. Everyone attending the event is invited to actively engage in the discussion. The coffee breaks between panels, demarcated by ellipses (…), hopefully are the most productive and elusive conversations.

    2:30—2:45PM (…)
    4:15—4:30PM (…)
    4:30—5:00PM CODA [A FICTIVE INDEX]

    Free and open to the public; RSVP suggested to


    Keller Easterling
    Associate Professor, Yale University School of Architecture

    Jimenez Lai
    Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago and Leader of Bureau Spectacular

    Chus Martínez
    Chief Curator, El Museo del Barrio

    Ingo Niermann
    Novelist and editor of the book series ‘Solution’ (Sternberg Press)

    Ricardo de Ostos
    Unit Master, Architectural Association and the Bartlett School of Architecture and co-founder of NaJa & deOstos

    Mark Von Schlegell
    Guest Professor, Staedelschule in Frankfurt and novelist (Semiotext(e))

    Felicity Scott (moderator)
    Co-Director of Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices Program, Columbia GSAPP

    Mark Wasiuta (moderator)
    Co-Director of CCCP and Director of Exhibitions, Arthur Ross Gallery, GSAPP

    Mark Wigley (moderator)
    Dean of the GSAPP, Columbia University


    This symposium examines the intermediation of architecture and fiction. Architecture acts and re-enacts a continuous telling of stories. Fiction is used to establish contexts, outline narratives, describe logics, or frame polemics. Likewise, fiction can be instrumentalized to distort or deceive. Structures both built and unbuilt inflect and are informed by numerous other media such as literature, cinema, theatre, and so on. Despite its ubiquity, the fictive trope’s function remains elusive. Utopias and dystopias, visionary drawings and experimental writings, exhibitions and installations, all require, utilize, or play off fiction in order to carve out a space to exist. What are the specificities and eccentricities of fiction’s role in critical, curatorial, and conceptual practices of architecture?

    Fiction allows us to imagine new possibilities, new politics, new modes for living, new ways of understanding the world. Indeed, fiction enables and encourages the elaboration or extrapolation of the present and proves history and memory are mutable and contingent. What para-fictional possibilities open up when architectural production purposely blurs truth and how might this problematize relationships to the real? What are the limits of fiction and its gestures of autonomy? Considering Felicity D. Scott’s remarks, “Fiction is not just escape from reality but can produce an engaged withdrawal,” is it possible to identify not only the mechanics but strategic moments of fiction? How does a fictive architecture prescribe experience or project models, and how do (counter-)narrative forms act as testing grounds for speculative ideas? The seminars’ conversations will range from the technical to the nonsensical and hopefully help us begin to recognize the myths architecture continues to reproduce and understand the alchemical potential of fiction in the discipline.

    This third annual Interpretations symposium and its live proceedings will form the basis of a forthcoming publication titled ARCHIGONICS. The suffix -gonic implies “the work required to facilitate a reaction.” In conjunction with documentation of the event, the publication will include additional commissions in the form of contributions and commentary by artists, architects, and curators. It will also include selected writings related to the topic through an open call for papers following the event.

    Discerning Fictions Curatorial Team:
    Javier Antón, Greg Barton, Caitlin Blanchfield, Max Lauter, Elis Mendoza

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