Reading List

Learning from Tijuana — Teddy Cruz in conversation with Caleb Waldorf

In Triple Canopy (2009)

Architect Teddy Cruz is recognized internationally for his research across the fields of architecture, urbanism, environmental and social practice. Informed by his ongoing research at the Tijuana-San Diego border, his practice highlights these border communities as progressive models to rethink urban policy, affordable housing and civic infrastructure. In his interview in Triple Canopy, Cruz talks about the influence of “sites of scarcity” (in Latin America and elsewhere) on his socially-informed architectural practice, advocating for bottom-up urbanism while challenging top-down institutions.

Read >>

Surplus — Anne Lacaton & Jean-Philippe Vassal in Conversation with Mathieu Wellner

For Reduce Reuse Recycle, German Pavilion at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale (2012)

Established in Paris in 1987 by Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, Lacaton & Vassal are one of the most important and relevant architecture practices in the world. Their approach to architecture eschews notions of the “new” or the “iconic” and instead responds to scarcity, ecology and a range of economic conditions. Whether their highly celebrated, incremental approach to renovating the Palais de Tokyo or their revolutionary external treatment of the La Tour Bois-le-Prêtre housing project, Lacaton & Vassal are influencing new approaches to architecture that make use of existing materials and buildings, innovative design and critical responses to each new context.

Download PDF

Public Art and Urban Identities — Miwon Kwon


Curator and art historian Miwon Kwon’s research concerns issues of community and identity in contemporary art. A major figure in criticism and founding co-editor of the journal Documents (1992-2004), she has written widely on the work of artists including Michael Asher, Cai Guo-Qiang, Jimmie Durham, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Christian Marclay, Ana Mendieta, Christian Philipp Müller, Gabriel Orozco, Richard Serra, and Do Ho Suh, among others. Her book, One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity (MIT Press, 2002), offers a critical history of site-specific art since the 1960s and has become essential reading in ongoing conversations around art in the public sphere. In this text, she draws on two historical examples of public art—Alexander Calder’s “La Grande Vitesse” (1969) and Mary Jane Jacob’s multi-site exhibition “Places with a Past” (1991)—to problematize the ways in which public art is appropriated for the promotion of urban identities.

Download PDF

Networked Cultures

Networked Cultures is a growing online database that investigates the cultural transformations under way in Europe through examining the potentials and effects of networked spatial practices. Based at Goldsmiths, University of London, the project collaborates with art, architectural and urban practices across Europe and beyond to look at ways in which contested spaces allow for a multi-inhabitation of territories and narratives across cultural, social or geographic boundaries. Sites of alternative urban engagement are collected on a database and presented in a variety of formats, including exhibitions, films and books.


How High is the City, How Deep is Our Love? — Jeff Derksen

In Fillip, Issue 12 (2010)

Jeff Derksen is a cultural critic, poet and member of the research collective Urban Subjects. A founding member of The Kootenay School of Writing, his interests include architecture, urbanism, and the poetics of globalised cities. This text looks at the changing role of artistic critique within neoliberal ideologies, proposing affective approaches to governance and urban planning.

Read >>

Culture Class: Art, Creativity, Urbanism — Martha Rosler

e-flux, Issues 21, 23, 25 (2010-2011)

A highly influential artist known for her pioneering work in video, photography, installation and performance, Martha Rosler’s practice has often focused on aspects of daily life and the public sphere, among her many interests. Her seminal photo-text work, “The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems” (1974-75), appropriated conventions from documentary photography in order to critique popular representations of the run-down neighbourhood in Manhattan. Her writing has been equally significant, and in her collection of essays for e-flux, “Culture Class,” Rosler explores the cultural and socioeconomic conditions that have contributed to our changing urban fabric and its harnessing of culture for capital.

Read Part I >>

Read Part II >>

Read Part III >>

Art and Housing: The Private Connection — Andrea Phillips

From Actors, Agents and Attendants: Social Housing—Housing the Social: Art, Property and Spatial Justice, edited by Andrea Phillips & Fulya Erdemci, Sternberg Press (2012)

A leading theorist at the intersection of architecture, politics and contemporary art, Andrea Phillips lectures and writes about the economic and social constructions of publics within artistic practices. Her recent research project and publication series, Actors, Agents and Attendants, looks at ongoing transformations in social housing and asks how these transformations are reflected in artists’ practices. Here Phillips points to systems of property ownership and the paradox of art’s re-engagement with the social sphere at a time when the concept of the social has never been more privatized.

Download PDF

Design for a Post-Neoliberal City — Jesko Fezer

e-flux, Issue 17 (2010)

Berlin-based artist and architect Jesko Fezer critiques design’s conformity to the demands of late capitalism when it comes to urban planning. Instead, he calls on the potential for designers to lead in the redesign of urban space: finding new forms to describe our authentic urban conditions and ideals, among them collectivity, social imagination, democracy, and even a sometimes necessary conflict.

Read >>