Łukasz Stanek: Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War (2020)

28 September 2020, dusan

“In the course of the Cold War, architects, planners, and construction companies from socialist Eastern Europe engaged in a vibrant collaboration with those in West Africa and the Middle East in order to bring modernization to the developing world. Architecture in Global Socialism shows how their collaboration reshaped five cities in the Global South: Accra, Lagos, Baghdad, Abu Dhabi, and Kuwait City.

Łukasz Stanek describes how local authorities and professionals in these cities drew on Soviet prefabrication systems, Hungarian and Polish planning methods, Yugoslav and Bulgarian construction materials, Romanian and East German standard designs, and manual laborers from across Eastern Europe. He explores how the socialist development path was adapted to tropical conditions in Ghana in the 1960s, and how Eastern European architectural traditions were given new life in 1970s Nigeria. He looks at how the differences between socialist foreign trade and the emerging global construction market were exploited in the Middle East in the closing decades of the Cold War. Stanek demonstrates how these and other practices of global cooperation by socialist countries—what he calls socialist worldmaking—left their enduring mark on urban landscapes in the postcolonial world.

Featuring an extensive collection of previously unpublished images, Architecture in Global Socialism draws on original archival research on four continents and a wealth of in-depth interviews. This incisive book presents a new understanding of global urbanization and its architecture through the lens of socialist internationalism, challenging long-held notions about modernization and development in the Global South.”

Publisher Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2020
ISBN 0691168709, 9780691168708
368 pages

Reviews: Gregor Harbusch (BauNetz, 2020), Alexander Adams (The Critic, 2020), Owen Hatherley (The Guardian, 2020).

Interview with author (Hilde Heynen & Sebastiaan Loosen, Architectural Histories, 2019)

Publisher
WorldCat

PDF (55 MB, updated on 2021-4-13)

Magiciens de la Terre (1989) [French]

21 August 2016, dusan

Catalogue of an exhibition held 18 May-14 August 1989 at the Centre Pompidou and La Grande Halle-La Villette, curated by Jean-Hubert Martin with the assistance of Jan Debbaut, Mark Francis, Jean-Louis Maubant, Aline Luque, André Magnin and Jacques Soulillou.

“An exhibition loved and hated in equal measure, Martin curated the show to address the fact that there were, as he put it, “one hundred percent of exhibitions ignoring 80 percent of the earth.” He attempted to engage critically with certain aspects of neo-colonial mentality in the West, particularly a resurgent interest in ‘primitivism,’ which Martin felt aestheticized exotic cultures without destablilizing western definitions of fine art, modernism, or identity. The exhibition included works by 100 artists (50 from the so called ‘West’ and 50 from the ‘margins’), attempting to show all on equal footing. The success of this attempt is still disputed and discussed in terms of the exhibition history of the past twenty-odd years, but it remains undeniable that the exhibition enacted an important break with some of the conventions of exhibition-making and strictly defined notions of modernism. Exhibited artists included Marina Abramovic, John Baldessari, Mike Chukwukelu, Braco Dimitrijevic, Yongping Huang, Boujemaa Lakhdar, Richard Long, Sigmar Polke, Jangarh Singh Shyam, Ulay, Jeff Wall, Jimmy Wululu, etc. ” (Source)

With essays by Jean-Hubert Martin, Aline Luque, Mark Francis, André Magnin, Pierre Gaudibert, Thomas McEvilley, Homi Bhabha, Jacques Soulillou, Bernard Marcadé.

Publisher Editions du Centre Pompidou, Paris, 1989
ISBN 2858504989, 9782858504985
271 pages
via Gioni

Interview with curator (Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Art in America, 1989, EN)
Reviews: 10 French press reviews (1989), more, list of reviews (1989, 30 pp).
Analysis and commentary: Special issue of Les Cahiers du Musée National d’Art Moderne (1989, FR, 101 MB, added on 2019-8-14), Special issue of Third Text (1989, EN), Thomas McEvilley (1990, EN), Cesare Poppi (engage, 2003, EN), Hal Foster et al (2004/07, EN), Daniel Soutif (2005, FR), Reesa Greenberg (Art Journal, 2005, EN), Maureen Murphy (Critique d’art, 2013, FR/EN), Pablo Lafuente (2013, EN), Annie Cohen-Solal (Stedelijk Studies, 2014, EN), Adam Jasper (AU&NZ Journal of Art, 2014, EN), Julia Friedel (C&, 2016, EN).
Short documentary (1989)
Wikipedia
Pompidou’s 25th anniversary exhibition (2014)
Film retrospective at Tate (2014)

Exhibition website
Press release (FR/EN), Petit journal (FR)
Publisher
WorldCat

PDF (168 MB)

Venetia Porter: Word Into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East (2006)

15 April 2016, dusan

This landmark catalogue is one of “the most comprehensive gatherings of Middle Eastern artists that has been undertaken in recent times.” Based on an exhibition mounted by the British Museum, it is “devoted to the recurring theme of calligraphy and how artists from the Middle East and North Africa use the traditional visual vocabulary of Arabic letters as a point of departure and an integral expressive element. The works, which were drawn mostly from the British Museum’s own collection of contemporary Islamic art, demonstrate how each artist celebrates the aesthetic powers and plasticity of the letters, while simultaneously pushing the boundaries, even sometimes subverting traditional canons. The artists manipulate letters, often transforming them beyond recognition, using ingenious and innovative methods, materials, styles, and daring compositions. Some use letters for purely aesthetic reasons, while others use them more instrumentally as writing, signs, or ciphers that allow the artists to grapple with issues of socio-political orientation and cultural and religious identity. For some artists this resonates with the sacred tradition of Islam and the Qur’an, while for others it is an undeniable part of their cultural heritage and a natural vehicle for expression.” (Sourced from the two reviews linked below.)

Foreword by Saeb Eigner
With contributions by Isabelle Caussé
Publisher British Museum Press, London, 2006
ISBN 0714111635, 9780714111636
144 pages
via IslamicManuscripts.info

Reviews: Islamic Monthly (2006), Maryam Ekhtiar (CAA Reviews 2007).

Publisher
Exhibition
WorldCat

PDF (124 MB)