September 20, 2017
Don’t just look at buildings — read about them, too!
by Alex Primiani
This Saturday in New York City, Storefront for Art and Architecture—in partnership with The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union—will be hosting the “Architecture Books / Yet to be Written / 1982-2017-2052,” a day-long conference focused on revitalizing our city’s interest in architecture and its history. Over a dozen artists and architects, curators and writers, will discuss where interest in architecture books stands today, and what the community can do to draw attention to the work that’s already being done.
According to Jack Rollings in The Architect’s Newspaper, the conference asks its participants to “present a book published in the past 35 years that they consider to be essential reading on contemporary architecture, as well as to imagine a publication for the future, a ‘book yet to be written.’” Along with this practice in hypothetical thinking, Storefront will also present BOOKS-NOW, a collection of signed, actual architecture books that are made of paper and ink.
The panel promises inspiring dialogue and proactive advice on what writing in architecture and urban design have to offer during this politically charged moment. It’s easy for the pedestrians and residents of any metropolis to take the intended symbiotic relationships between spaces and materials for granted, something biographer B. Alexandra Szerlip vividly brings to life with her recent biography of American designer and “Twentieth-Century Leonardo Da Vinci” Norman Bel Geddes, The Man Who Designed the Future. Just how we got from the booming, production design of the twentieth century to the nearly invisible aspects of twenty-first-century urban design is what Storefront hopes to dissect at the conference, and most importantly, discuss the necessity of documenting.
The conference comes not long after the Graham Foundation offered over $400,000 in grants to several spaces and organizations engaging with the role of architecture in the political, social, and environmental spheres. Storefront was one of the recipients of a grant, for an installation curated by Bryony Roberts that “addressed marching performances as a medium for community cultural identity and political resistance,” as Artforum reported last month.
If you’re looking for even more art book exposure, be sure to catch Printed Matter’s 12th annual NY Art Book Fair, which kicks off with a party this Thursday at MOMA/PS1. The fair will go on throughout the weekend and “feature over 370 booksellers, antiquarians, artists, institutions and independent publishers from twenty-eight countries.” And if you find yourself in Queens on Sunday, September 17, be sure to head to the Queens Museum for their recent exhibit “Never Built New York,” which displays several nearly-made works for the “future of New York.”
Storefront hopes to continue their efforts with a new Architecture Book Fair, slated to run June 2018.
Alex Primiani is the associate director of publicity at Melville House.