A CONVERSATION BETWEEN ARCHITECTS SILVA AJEMIAN AND ASLIHAN DEMIRTAS,
May 5 2010
moderated by experimental architect and theorist Lebbeus Woods.
Tuesday, May 11, 6:30 PM
Pratt Manhattan, room 213 adjacent to the gallery
144 West 14th St.
New York, NY 10011
Free and open to the public
This event is the second in a series of public discussions organized
in conjunction with the "Blind Dates" curatorial project which opens
at Pratt Manhattan Gallery in November 2010.
About the Participants:
Lebbeus Woods (b. 1940 in Lansing, Michigan) has concentrated
on theory and experimental work since 1976. He is the co-Founder
and Scientific Director of RIEA.ch, an institute devoted to the
advancement of experimental architectural thought and practice. His
most recent books are Radical Reconstruction (Princeton Architectural
Press, 1997), The Storm and The Fall (Princeton Architectural Press,
2003), and System Wien (Hatje Cantz/MAK, 2005). He is a recipient
of the Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design and his works are in
public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York;
the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum; the San Francisco Museum of
Modern Art; the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, Paris; the
Austrian Museum of Applied Art, Vienna; the Carnegie Museum of Art,
and the Getty Research Institute for the Arts and Humanities. Lebbeus
Woods holds the position that architecture and war are in a certain
sense identical, and that architecture is inherently political. An
explicitly political goal of his highly conceptual work is the
instantiation of the conflict between past and future in shared
spaces. One of the most striking examples of his work is his project
on a possible future for the Korean De-militarized Zone. Conflict
and crisis are the forces within which the architectural forms of
Lebbeus Woods take shape. Lines and directions are traced out of a
sheer will to create a new space from the broken forms that are left,
for instance in the wake of the war in Bosnia.
Silva Ajemian grew up in Lebanon and moved to New York City in 1996.
She holds a Master of Architecture degree and a Bachelor of
Environmental Design Studies from Dalhousie University, Canada. She has
been practicing Architecture since 1996 and has worked with Michael
Sorkin and Vito Acconci. Recipient of the Rosetti Scholarship she
documented the architecture of public markets in London, and with
a CIDA travel grant she worked on low cost and sustainable housing
projects for local communities in Tumaco, Colombia, published by
Tuns Press. With her partner, Jorge Prado, she founded todo design in
2003, a multi disciplinary practice encompassing urban, architecture,
furniture and graphic design Their approach is
simple: treat each project as a provocation. The resulting expression
in material, spatial and philosophical terms aims always for the same
result, to raise awareness of our surroundings, our interactions with
it and its impact on us. Silva has taught architectural design at Kamla
Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute in Mumbai, and at Dalhousie Univerisity
in Halifax.Currently she is an adjunct professor at the New Jersey
Institute of Technology, School of Architecture and a visiting critic
at Pratt Institute, NYIT and Cornell University.
Aslihan Demirtas holds a Master of Science in Architectural
Studies from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of
Architecture from the Middle East Technical University, Turkey. She is
a practicing architect since 1991 and has worked with I.M. Pei, as his
lead designer for international projects such as the Museum of Islamic
Art, Doha,Qatar. In 2007, she established her own practice in New
York where she is working on local and international projects and has
collaborated with IM Pei on a chapel project in Kyoto, Japan. As part
of her research, Aslihan Demirtas has been studying architecture as a
wider interdisciplinary understanding of building activity inclusive
of landscape and infrastructure and ecology. Her research has been
generously supported by the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.
She has published articles in journals and chapters in books by
MIT Press, Bauhaus and Harvard Press. Aslihan Demirtas is currently
teaching design studio at Parsons School of Constructed Environments
where she runs collaborative design projects with non-profit community
groups. She has taught at Fordham University and MIT and has lectured
at GSD at Harvard University and Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany.
At Ani, a bridge once connected the two banks of the Akhurian/Arpacay
River. Today, of the now collapsed bridge, only the abutments on the
two sides of the river remain, one in Turkey and the other in Armenia.
As the remains of the bridge exist in two territories, Ani exists in
two worlds, at once an important historic Armenian capital and an
archeological ruin in a military zone in Turkey at the border with
Armenia. Two architects are seduced by the collapsed bridge. Their
project consists of a series of visual, graphic and tectonic
‘conversations’ set up to investigate and interpret the multiple
existences of Ani, the river and its disconnected bridge. They start
by revealing the lenticular existence of the place and develop by
interweaving the resulting existences, references and projections. New
York based architects/designers Silva Ajemian and Aslihan Demirtas
work to reveal two stories, two forecasts. As they bridge from their
respective approaches, they seek to interleave insights and articulate
nested architectural and geographic narratives to create illusions
of simultaneity and unfold possible realities.
About Blind Dates:
As an interdisciplinary and cross cultural curatorial undertaking
Blind Dates tackles with the traces or ‘what remains’ of the peoples,
places and cultures that once constituted the diverse geography of
the Ottoman Empire (1299-1922). Taking the breakup of the latter’s
complex history as a point of departure, and considering the subsequent
formation of nation states throughout the region, the exhibition is
an attempt to explore the effects of various forms of ruptures, gaps,
erasures as well as (re)constructions, including continuities within
discontinuities, through the prism of contemporary lived-experiences.
Blind Dates has been working with artists, intellectuals and cultural
producers interested in deconstructing master narratives to give agency
a chance, or to extend new ‘ways of seeing’ contentious historical
accounts/events and their lingering effects on life today.
By pairing artists and non artists for a series of private/informal
discussions project co-curators, Defne Ayas and Neery Melkonian,
have been ‘matchmaking’ to mediate encounters between distanced
neighbors and their estranged cultures. The exhibition will be based
on collaborations stemming from these critical encounters.