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Elke krasny portrait 2014 grst

Elke Krasny

Professor Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, Austria Website

Elke Krasny Curator, cultural theorist, urban researcher and writer; Professor of Art and Education at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna; 2014 City of Vienna Visiting Professor at the Vienna University of Technology; Visiting Scholar at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montréal in 2012; Visiting Artist at Simon Fraser University's Audain Gallery in Vancouver 2011-2012;Visiting Curator at the Hongkong Community Museum Project in 2011; Recent curatorial works include Mapping the Everyday. Neighborhood Claims for the Future and Hands-On Urbanism 1850-2012. The Right to Green which was shown at the Architecture Centre Vienna and at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. In 2015 Hands-On Urbanism is shown at the University of Maryland's Kibel Gallery. She co-edited the 2013 volume Women's:Museum. Curatorial Politics in Feminism, Education, History, and Art.


Elke krasny portrait 2014 grst

It is commonly held that crisis is central to the reproduction of capitalism. Therefore, crisis and capitalism can in fact be understood to be inseparable from each other. Or, in other words, capitalism can be understood as a temporal sequence of crises. It is also commonly held that urbanization is central to capitalism. If crisis is central to capitalism and if urbanization is central to capitalism, then it is safe to assume that crisis and urbanization have to be understood as equally inseparable from each other.

In his 1970 book _The Urban Revolution _Henri Lefebvre arrives at the concise diagnosis of the “generalization“ of world capitalism. For that reason, we have to come to the conclusion that this generalization encompasses the very inseparability of crisis, capitalism, and urbanization. As a consequence, both the impact of architecture and the role of architects have to be examined within the complexities of this ongoing, and in fact accelerated, process of generalization.

The historical period of generalization is marked by the emergence of starchitecture from the 1970s onwards. This strategy of dropping pieces of architecture on a global scale deploys and delivers architectural iconocity. This makes cities ready for their mobilization through the circulation of spectacular urban images. These iconic architectures can be understood as the very symptoms of the unbroken and ever more accelerated competition between global cities. At the same time, these starchitectures can in fact be perceived as telling about not only themselves and their logics of production and consumption, but also about the generalization of crisis, capitalism, and urbanization they are in fact a constitutive part of. In analytical terms, these starchitectures are an expressive and impressive symptomatology of uneven growth. They are the physically built manifestations of rising urban inequality and increasing uneven growth. Even though these starchitectures are commonly held as the signs of progress and futurity, one can actually read them as depressing signs ad symptoms of building at the expense of a possible future.

In her introduction to the 2014 edited volume _Architecture and Capitalism 1845 to the Present _Peggy Deamer makes the succinct argument “that the history of architecture is the history of capital”. For that reason, seen in historical terms, architecture proves to be an outstanding and long-term witness to the processes between crisis, capital(ism), and urbanization. Seen from the dual perspective of architecture's design and architecture's production one can, in hindsight, arrive at an analysis of the historical and economic conditions in their respective local specificities. If there is indeed a way of learning from such historical analysis, it is necessary to think of ways of combining contemporary architectural and urban analysis and contemporary architectural and urban practices in order to counteract within the given.

It is precisely within these conditions of urban inequality and uneven growth that architects can aim to make their contribution towards spatial justice and urban redistribution. There is no longer the thought of a utopian outside. There is no utopia to be conceived of outside of the cyclical conditions of crises periods and intercrisis periods. Yet, architectural business as usual or resignation can and must not be the answers to these grave, and in fact most depressing conditions. In face of all the above described, I want to argue for margins of architectural utopian practice from within. It is exactly along the margins that hope based upon a different practice of architecture can arise. These margins can come in form of an array of projects: engaged or activist architectural practices, locally involved architectures, university-based research and realizations, or curated exhibitions. All too easily dismissed as just another project that won't make much of a difference at the end of the day, I want to argue for the differences made within the ever-growing generalization of crisis and urbanization. As a curatorial project _Uneven Growth. Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities _can be understood to to operate within the margins of utopia and hope where architecture creates urban engagement, despite all odds. Therefore, there is a critical difference between architecture understood as business as usual and architecture as unusual business. It is the capacity of troubling and of resistance coming from the unusual business that inspires hope despite of the prevailing sense of economic crisis, spatial injustice, and the feelings of resignation or depression. Even though uneven growth's inescapability persists, the margins allow for architecture as unusual business acting on the scale of projects. Rather than dismissing projects for being small or temporary or all to easily co-opted, it is of importance to think of projects as a moving utopian margin. One that brings connectivity. One that allows for hope. A moving utopian margin does not privilege one time over the other time when it comes to the question when to act. A moving utopian margin clearly demonstrates that it is always time to act. Thinking with moving utopian margin can thus become a way to imagine that the future of architecture is not (inevitably) going to be the future of capital.

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It is commonly held that crisis is central to the reproduction of capitalism. Therefore, crisis and capitalism can in fact be understood to be inseparable from each other. Or, in other words, capitalism can be understood as a temporal sequence of...

Show more »