Cairo, Madrid, London, Santiago, New York, Homs—these cities have become sites for riots, political upheavals, prolonged encampments, and violent protests. The fact that so many revolutions take place on public urban space prompts the analysis between the forces of revolt and those of renewal. Some have argued that the 1871 Paris Commune resulted in a disillusionment with the city, a loss that has haunted modern writing from Friedrich Engels’ analysis of housing in England to the dispersion theories of Moisei Ginsburg and Frank Lloyd Wright. One century later, the protests of 1968 tried to reclaim the city with often tragic results.
Revolution—defined as a sudden, radical change—subverts, manipulates, distorts, and reacts against the built environment as much as it is shaped by it. While Le Corbusier once posed the choice between “Architecture or Revolution,” it might be more accurate to ask whether architecture can ever be without revolution. In other words, can the design of the built environment ever be neutral, or does it inevitably imply taking a position, holding ground, staking out claims? Conversely, how does political action redefine art, architecture, city planning, and other practices in terms of agency, temporality, and regulation?
Thresholds 41: REVOLUTION! seeks contributions that historicize and complicate positions on the futility or imperative of design in the public realm. We welcome histories of occupied urban spaces, analysis on the intersection of aesthetic and political practices, and critical interventions that prompt political action in the commons. As an interdisciplinary journal, we aim to publish both scholarly papers and cultural practices.
Deadline for the submission of papers: April 01, 2012.