An interdisciplinary conversation at the Deutsches Haus, NYU, 42
Washington Mews, New York, on Tuesday, March 19, 2002, 2 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. You are cordially invited to join our discussion. Attendance is free, and coffee will be provided.
Globalization, it is often proclaimed, leads to the eradication of
geographical and cultural peculiarity. The cities we build, the
homes we inhabit and the objects with which we surround ourselves are becoming more alike: the abstract, universal idiom of the ‘International Style’ has triumphed over the multiplicity of local styles, traditions and cultures. Or has it? Our symposium shows how, throughout the past 100 years or so, Heimat has played an important role in modernity: as an escapist refuge, a strategy of resistance to modernization – but also, as is less well known, as a positive
contribution to the evolution of modernism itself. In architecture, urban planning and industrial design, the search for functional authenticity was often inspired by the turn to the vernacular, seen as an alternative to ‘alienated’ consumer culture as far back as the nineteenth century. Since then, modernism has managed, with varying levels of success, to address and incorporate the Heimat agenda: a sensitivity to the natural and social environment, to communal identity and to human sentiments. This ‘other history’ of modernism beyond the International Style - with all its successes and failures - has much to teach us today. We conclude our symposium with some practical considerations and illustrations of how the architecture of the future can express a sense of identity – without denying the realities of modern life.
Four speakers will be introducing these themes in short, illustrated
presentations: Stanford Anderson (Architectural Historian and Critic), Larry Speck (Architect), John Czaplicka (Art Historian) and Maiken Umbach (Historian). Karl-Heinz Kohl (Anthropologist), creator of the acclaimed “New Heimats” exhibition, will be acting as commentator, to start an open dialogue with the audience.
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