Modernism and mimesis in the architecture of Adolf Loos

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1 Jul 2018

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London



Modern architecture, with the émigré architect as its messenger, sought to create a world in which buildings performed an act of global dissemination. They were to exist in a universal space where site specificity was no longer a value and authorship no longer central. A protagonist ‘on the move’, a homeless modernist perhaps, challenges the very essence of place-bound nationalist politics. The experience of exile, dislocation, or disarticulation is deeply inscribed in the aesthetic structure of modernism, challenging the site, appearance and meaning of the architectural object. Consequently, historians of modernism are challenged to narrate and follow the trajectories of migration, trying to piece together routes as artefacts keep on popping up in unexpected places.

This talk looks at the migration of ideas through different means and media: writings, architectural drawings, photographs, films, artifacts, building materials and buildings themselves, but also their protagonists – authors, owners and inhabitants. In a series of archival close-ups it will present research on collaborators of Adolf Loos, who had worked and studied with him in Vienna and Prague, and who in the 1930s, brought his design principles to Palestine. This research does not only add to an already well-established scholarship about Adolf Loos, but tries to make a series of methodological and theoretical points about threads and traces that pose the most potent questions for the architectural historian as she traces the complex experience of modernity through exile.

Ines Weizman is professor of architecture theory, director of the Bauhaus-Institute of History and Theory of Architecture and Planning and director of the Centre for Documentary Architecture at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. She trained as an architect at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and the Ècole d’Architecture de Belleville in Paris, the Sorbonne, the University of Cambridge, and the Architectural Association, where she completed her PhD thesis in History and Theory. In 2014, her edited book Architecture and the Paradox of Dissidence, was published by Routledge. The book Before and After: Documenting the Architecture of Disaster, written together with Eyal Weizman was published in the same year by Strelka Press. In 2015 she edited with Jorge Otero-Pailos the issue ‘Preservation and Copyright’ for the journal Future Anterior (University of Minnesota Press). Her articles have appeared in books, magazines and journals internationally. The installation “‘Repeat Yourself’: Loos, Law and the Culture of the Copy” was shown as part of the “Museum of Copying” (curated by FAT Architects) at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012, and in 2013 as solo-shows in the Architecture Centre Vienna and the Buell Architecture Gallery at Columbia University, New York. Earlier research and exhibition projects include “Celltexts. Books and other works produced in prison” (together with Eyal Weizman), first exhibited in Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turino (2008, 2009, 2014, 2015). In 2016 she directed the International Bauhaus-Colloquium titled ‘Dust&Data’ at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar.