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Exhibiting the Postmodern: three narratives for a history of the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale

Szacka, L.-C.; (2012) Exhibiting the Postmodern: three narratives for a history of the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis explores the history of the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale. Held under the title ‘The Presence of the Past’, this multi-faceted show displayed international contemporary architecture with an Italo-American twist. After this exhibition, postmodernism became a galvanic term in relation to architecture. A growing specialist interest both in architectural exhibitions as a ‘genre’ of cultural manifestation, and in postmodernism as an architectural period or style were the theoretical impetus for this research. Looking at the question of architectural exhibitions in a postmodern context (1968 to 1988), the thesis seeks to unravel three very diverse yet interwoven narratives relating to the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale. It draws upon recent literature on architectural exhibitions, newly accessible archival material, and original oral history accounts, and looks at exhibition techniques and exhibition spaces, institutional changes, and exhibitions as a site of confrontation between advocates of modern and postmodern architecture. It will serve to demonstrate that the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale was a hinge in three ways: first, in the development of architectural exhibitions as a ‘genre’ of cultural manifestations, second, in the history of the Venice Biennale, and third, in the history of postmodernism. Successfully playing on postmodern form and content, the 1980 Biennale also marked a new relation between the worlds of art and architecture, arising from the crisis that had touched Italian cultural institutions in 1968, and the consequent transformation of the architectural product as end object. Too often seen as an isolated event, the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale was in reality linked to a series of debates that occurred before, during, and after the exhibition. As the first detailed historical account of the exhibition, this research sheds new light on the history of an event that, despite its transient nature, has continued to remain vividly present in the collective memory.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Exhibiting the Postmodern: three narratives for a history of the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale
Language:English
Additional information:Permission for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School > Bartlett School of Architecture

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