“5X2 Summer Conversations” is a format developed by Roberto Gigliotti, Léa Catherine-Szacka and Nina Bassoli with the collaboration of Davide Tommaso Ferrando, in the frame of the research project “ARCH-DIS Architecture in the Age of Display” at the Faculty of Design and Art of the Free University of Bozen Bolzano.
Originally conceived as a summer school, the idea to enable scholars to meet experts while working around the question "What does an architecture exhibition produce today?" has been transformed into a series of public online conversations due to prevailing circumstances. Each appointment brings together 2 different architecture exhibition producers or critics and invites them to engage in a moderated dialogue about 5 proposed topics.
In his seminal essay,“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Walter Benjamin observes a tension between new modes of perception and the aura that arises from the work of art due to its reproducibility. Following Benjamin’s diagnosis, and given the recent explosion of architecture exhibitions, could we look at the work of architecture under new conditions of production and public presentation? As stated by Léa-Catherine Szacka, «If exhibitions were once only a reference to something else, the exhibition is now the referent, whose traces become more important than the event itself». Taking these elements as a starting point, this research aims to investigate the work of architecture in the age of display. Due to its nature and dimensions, buildings cannot be contained in the show and the act of exhibiting is often connected with the absence of the very object of the addressed matter. But this is true only if we aim to reduce the exhibition of architecture to the presentation (or representation) of built realm. What is exhibited in an architecture show is definitely worth of examination since the contents range from architecture (buildings) per se to issues which are relevant for it. The production of space in the context of the exhibition has always been connected to experimentation and it is acknowledged that the context of temporary exhibitions is punctuated by «the most extreme and influential proposals» in the history of architecture, as Beatriz Colomina pointed out. All this to say that the research interest on architecture exhibitions, although established and consolidated, is still lively and continues offering issues worth being deeply examined. Beyond mere display, the architecture exhibition is a thing in itself: it is presentation and knowledge production as much as it is representation of something that lies outside of the exhibition space. Furthermore, showing architecture requires a series of mediation procedures and the translation of the exhibited object into artefacts that can be experienced within the space of the show. This opens up the way for a development of the research interests in the direction of the production of architectural knowledge through architecture exhibitions, and orientate the focus towards its outcomes in regards not only to cultural but also material production. The research project “ARCH-DIS Architecture in the Age of Display” aims to develop a theoretical and operational framework for implementing the knowledge about architecture exhibitions with a focus on the proliferation of these shows, and the increasing attention of the public and of the academia towards them.
Roberto Gigliotti is an Associate Professor in Interior and Exhibit Design at the Faculty of Design and Art of the Free University of Bozen Bolzano. He graduated in architecture at the IUAV in Venice and holds a Master in Landscape Architecture (MLA) from the Edinburgh College of Art. His work focuses on museography with a peculiar attention to the practices of exhibiting architecture. Before joining the Free University of Bozen Bolzano he was researcher at the TU Darmstadt. He is vice-president of the kunstverein ar/ge kunst and has co-curated several projects for the cultural association Lungomare of which he is founding member and part of the curatorial team.
Léa-Catherine Szacka is a Lecturer in Architectural Studies at Manchester Architecture Research Group (MARg), the University of Manchester. She received a PhD in Architecture History and Theory from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London in 2011. Before joining The University of Manchester she had taught at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO), the École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Versailles, the École nationale supérieure d’architecture de Paris-Malaquais, the École nationale supérieure d’architecture Paris-Val de Seine, Nottingham Trent University and the Manufacture – Haute École Spéciale de Suisse Occidentale.
Architect and curator, PhD at Architecture University of Venice IUAV, she graduated at the Politecnico di Milano, where she is currently teaching Architectural and Landscape Design. Since July 2019, she holds the research grant (AR) Architecture in the Age of Display and teaches Interior and Exhibit Design at the Free University of Bolzano. She is member of the editorial staff of "Lotus international" and of the Board of Direction of Pirelli HangarBicocca. Among the several exhibitions curated: Reconstructions at the Triennale di Milano, Architecture as Art and City after the City/Street Art, within the XXI Triennale di Milano, and the Italian Pavillion at the 14th Venice Biennale with Cino Zucchi.
Davide Tommaso Ferrando is an architecture researcher and critic, particularly interested in the intersections between architecture, city and media. M.Arch in Advanced Architectural Design at ETSA Madrid and Ph.D in Architecture and Building Design at Politecnico di Torino, he is currently Research Fellow at the Faculty of Design and Art of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, as well as adjunct professor at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Innsbruck. Director of Viceversa Bits and of 011+, and editor of Realismoutopico, He is curator with Daniel Tudor Munteanu of the Unfolding Pavilion, independent pavilion at the Venice Biennale since 2016.