Let us tell you a wonderful, old joke from Communist times. A guy was sent from East Germany to work in Siberia. He knew his mail would be read by censors, so he told his friends: “Let’s establish a code. If a letter you get from me is written in blue ink, it is true what I say. If it is written in red ink, it is false.” After a month, his friends get the first letter. Everything is in blue. It says, this letter: “Everything is wonderful here. Stores are full of good food. Movie theatres show good films from the west. Apartments are large and luxurious. The only thing you cannot buy is red ink.” This is how we live. We have all the freedoms we want. But what we are missing is red ink: the language to articulate our non-freedom. The way we are taught to speak about freedom— war on terror and so on—falsifies freedom. And this is what you are doing here. You are giving all of us red ink. - Slavoj Zizek, Sept 17, 2010, Liberty Square, New York
Over the last few decades, capitalism has entered every single aspect of culture. If we fantasized about postmodernism being the end of captalism in its lateness, it seems that today, on the contrary, capitalism is as agile as ever. As Zizek argues in his joke about the Red Ink, we do not have the tools to start imagining alternatives.
Faced with this impossibility, on the occasion of the book launch of Architecture and Capitalism edited by Peggy Deamer, Storefront presents a forum where some of the book contributors and other leading figures in the discourse around politics, economy, architecture and the city present and discuss some historical and contemporary references on how alternatives have been articulated in the past and how we might be able to articulate them today.
About the book
ARCHITECTURE AND CAPITALISM, 1845 TO THE PRESENT
Edited by Peggy Deamer
"Architecture and Capitalism tells a story of the relationship between the economy and
architectural design. Eleven historians each discuss in brand new essays the time
period they know best, looking at cultural and economic issues, which in light
of current economic crises you will find have dealt with diverse but surprisingly
familiar economic issues. Told through case studies, the narrative begins in the
mid-nineteenth century and ends with 2011, with introductions by editor Peggy
Deamer to pull the main themes together so that you can see how other architects
in different times and in different countries have dealt with similar economic
conditions. By focussing on what previous architects experienced, you have the
opportunity to avoid repeating the past.
With new essays by Pier Vittorio Aureli, Ellen Dunham-Jones, Keller
Easterling, Lauren Kogod, Robert Hewison, Joanna Merwood-Salisbury, Robin
Schuldenfrei, Deborah Gans, Simon Sadler, Nathan Rich, and Michael Sorkin."
Peggy Deamer is a professor of architecture at Yale University, New Haven, USA.
Publisher: Routledge, New York
Limited copies will be available for purchase at the event.
Quotes from the book
" There’s certainly a conspiracy to make habitation and haberdashery
commutative and we must take care not to let the Man camouflage
us from ourselves by dappling us with art-for-art bromides and celebrity,
studding our skulls with diamonds. Nor should we surrender to our own
side’s dour, paternalist theories (so often produced between sips of Sancerre
as if the way we live our lives is just incidental) and simply assume that all
iconoclasm is just another strategy of bourgeois repression. Call it negation
if you insist. We cross the bridge of irony or cynicism at some risk: who
wants a joyless revolution?" M. Sorkin.
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