Acting Institutions. Agents, Actors, and Authorities in Modern Architecture (between the 1890s and 1930s)

November 10-11, 2022

10-11 November, 2022 at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. Registration deadline: 4 November.

By placing styles, buildings and their authors at the centre of research, architectural history became a supposedly linear representation of the built environment. The monographic narrative is overt evidence of the established approach, which emphasises individual, mostly prominent architects,
art schools, leading clients, and art-historically outstanding projects and objects. However, this depicts only a limited part of history.

Shedding light to institutional actors who were necessarily involved in the architectural production of public architecture illuminates the diversity of interests and final outputs. To understand the diversity of this architectural production, we need to ask about the motivations of the involved elements, the state as client and its authorities as executive bodies.

Striving for a comprehensive image of modern architecture, the conference shifts the perspective from the widely acknowledged masters and their work to the “invisible” group of unnoticed actors who, nevertheless, decisively contributed to the outcomes of modern architecture. Beyond the conventional agents, the conference emphasises the role of institutions, interest groups, and individual actors in their historical meaning of power networks. Taking institutions into account does not lead to a counter-narrative, but to an inclusive social field that was the genuine ground for setting priorities, interests, and legal agenda. With our conference Acting Institutions we intend to open up the historical gaze beyond the dominant actors and redraw the boundaries of scholarship. We replace coherence with complexity.

The conference is co-organised by the Research Unit for History of Art of the Institute for Habsburg and Balkan Studies of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Art History of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Further information and the programme can be found here.

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