The Centre Cannot Hold?


The idea of the city dominated by a soaring landmark or a grand epicentre – whether a sacred temple, a secular monument or a Central Business District – was allegedly buried along with utopian high modernity, sometime during the second half of the 20th century. The new urban age taking shape in its place, say politicians, planners and scholars, will be humbler, more sustainable, collaborative and polycentric: eco-cities instead of monumental axes; pop-up innovation hubs rather than palaces of culture; fleeting antistatues in place of equestrian heroes and sky-high monoliths; Gumtree and Airbnb amid the debris of the Galeries Lafayette and the Grand Hotel.
But is this centrifugal tendency really as absolute, inevitable – and desirable – as all that? And is the negation of hierarchy – on the terrain of the city itself, as well as of its descriptions and theorisations – in fact complicit in concealing new (or old) forms of domination? This conference will explore the aesthetics, politics, economics and affects of centrality and monumentality, from their 20th century golden age to their contemporary inheritances, afterlives, ruins and appropriations.

Conference at the Calvert 22 Foundation, 10-11th June 2016

info here