The following is adapted from a longer presentation by Brett Lazer at the IFA In-House Symposium on January 22, 2010.
Learning from Las Vegas and the Antinomy of the Postmodern Manifesto
Along with Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966), Learning from Las Vegas (1972) forms Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s classic articulation of a new path for architecture in the face of late Modernism. The basic assertion of the book is a turn towards the vernacular – not a vernacular of gables and dormers, nor Modernism’s industrial vernacular, but rather the commercial vernacular, with its apotheosis in the neon lights of the Las Vegas strip. Venturi and Scott Brown see the Modernist rejection of history, ornament, and denotative symbolism as irresponsible, empty, boring, and inappropriate. The expressionistic use of space and light that Modernism requires is incommensurate with the scale of American society, reformatted in recent years to the automobile and the highway. As Venturi puts it, “articulated architecture today is like a minuet in a discotheque.” However, taking on Modernism is no easy task, requiring rhetorical contortions that call into question the very foundations of Venturi and Scott Brown’s project.
For Sergej Jensen’s “first American museum survey,” MoMA PS1 has put on an exhibition of over twenty recent works that Jensen constructed with many types of fabric and colorants, from burlap to cashmere and chlorine bleach to acrylic paint. Most of Jensen’s textiles are found, and his use of them is analogous to his use of found conventions, as he interprets inherited modernist traditions through scavenged fabrics. This acknowledgment of disorder and process renders Jensen’s works moving in their honest exploration of fraying edges and uneven seams.
The 2008 piece Blessed presents this function most directly. Two pieces of cashmere are sewn together and pulled taut, unevenly stretching the warp and weft. At the single horizontal seam, which is neatly stitched, the irregular end of each piece is clearly visible through the thin textile. Fabric edges are usually hidden and tucked away—similar to folding the end of wrapping paper, hemming is a way to disguise the imperfect sides of cut or torn material. But here Jensen displays both realities simultaneously: the polished product and its unrefined components.
The film describes three case studies from different museums, at the instance of the work by the installations artists Olafur Eliasson, Bill Seaman and Tino Seghal.
The film will be followed by a group discussion and reception.
The discussion will be chaired by INCCA-NA new Executive Director Lauren Shadford and Glenn Wharton.
The event will take place on Friday, February 25, 2011 at the Duke House Lecture Hall at the Institute of Fine Arts, 1 East 78th Street, New York. The screening of the 20-minute film will commence at 6:00 pm. Refreshments will be available from 7:00 to 8:00 pm.
Saturday, March 5, 11:00 am
The Park Avenue Armory
After the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum has the most extensive collection of original works by Picasso in the country. Mr. Tinterow, curator of the recent Picasso exhibition at the Metropolitan, will explain how the Museum came to acquire such rich holdings.
Ann Lauterbach and Paul Foster Johnson Poetry Reading
Readings in Contemporary Poetry at Dia:Chelsea
Thursday, February 17, 2011, 6:30pm
535 West 22nd St.
New York City
$6 general admission; $3 Dia members, students, and seniors
Tickets are available at the lecture only. Reservations recommended.
More information at http://diaart.org/events/main/370.