Within the long-standing fascination with ruins (Ruinenlust) as allegories of time and destiny, as evoked by Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias,” the 20th century entertains an ambiguous relationship with ruin: while demolition functions as a polemical device for the Plan Voisin, the Acropolis stands as an object of aesthetic exaltation for both Le Corbusier and Auguste Perret. For Aldo Rossi and his generation, the uncanniness of the “disemboweled” houses after WWII awakened mixed feelings of nostalgia and loss, as these fragments of cities and architectures testified to “the interrupted destiny of the individual and his often sad and difficult participation in the destiny of the collective.”
Throughout the last century, modern architecture’s fate was closely intertwined with multiple violent endings and ruinations: from the blazing destruction of Pruitt Igoe in the 1970s and the catastrophic collapse of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in 2001, to the controversial demolition of the Palast der Republik at the end of 2000s, not to mention the many urban planning disasters that go along.
At this very moment more and more ruins are produced, making disaster and loss again the only measure of our attention. Not just architectures, cultural heritage, cities and lives are daily threatened by destruction, but ruin itself seems to be once again endangered through vandalization, displacement and looting, finally culminating with its total disappearance.
The advanced decay of landscapes and territories along with the intrinsic obsolescence of much of architectural recent production further complicates the ambiguous nature of ruins: no longer just periscopes into the past that outlive our own temporality, are ruins of the contemporary still capable to generate meaning? In the rampant development of virtual worlds today, could ruin still have an active, critical role – both conceptually and physically?
Paralleling Aby Warburg’s famous formula of the Nachleben der Antike as a possible way of seeing the afterlives of contemporary ruins, the editors are looking for contributions that question whether ruins may still have an expressive, symbolical, functional, or critical value today.
Abstracts are due 5 December 2022.
More information can be found here.