Damon Rich: Cities Destroyed for Cash

You are kindly invited to attend the talk Cities Destroyed for Cash by Damon Rich on Friday, 28 May, at 6 p.m. at the Moderna galerija / Museum of Modern Art, Tomšičeva 14, Ljubljana.

Buildings sit at the center of the global financial crisis. In the US, the preference for traditional residential design masks a century- long transformation in the functioning of architecture. Public power, exerted through government, joined with digitized financial markets to transform individual houses from distinct objects to interchangeable nodes within a global structure. This structure, comprising buyers, sellers, builders, brokers, lenders, bankers, traders, insurers, investors, and regulators, connected the built environment to new forms of investment and developed hundreds of millions of acres of post-World War II landscape.

The interface between capital markets and buildings is not metaphorical; it is carried out by identifiable actors found in specific places obeying certain rules. While the mechanisms and instruments of home finance, from appraisals to mortgage-backed securities, extend beyond the discipline of architecture, these abstractions, designed to carry value from a singular site to broader markets, rely on the materiality of buildings for their reference and justification. At the same time, these interfaces address and arrange the practice of architecture through mechanisms of building codes, site plan requirements, and lending criteria.

By way of a post-apocalyptic settlement in Montréal, a public learning center about finance and architecture in New York City, and a plan for the riverfront of Newark, New Jersey, this presentation will explore how tools of architecture and design might shift catastrophe to revitalize relationships between people and their living environments.

Damon Rich is a designer and artist who uses video, sculpture, graphics, and photography to investigate the political economy of the built environment. His work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the 2008 Venice Biennale, Storefront for Art and Architecture and Sculpture Center (New York City), the Canadian Centre for Architecture (Montréal), and Netherlands Architecture Institute (Rotterdam). In 1997, he founded the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), a New York City nonprofit organization that uses the power of design and art to improve the quality of public participation in urban planning and community design, where he was the Creative Director for 10 years. His solo exhibition Red Lines Housing Crisis Learning Center was on view at the Queens Museum of Art May 31 - September 27, 2009.


CITIES DESTROYED FOR CASH takes place within Public City project, initiated by STEALTH.unlimited as a part of Radical Education, co-organized with C3 in Ljubljana, and supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Slovenia and Netherlands Fund for Art, Architecture and Design.

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