Happening Now: The Exhibition is Open

Graphophone, ca. 1900 Wood and metal, 11” x 17-1/4” x 16” (Trademark of an improved version of the phonograph; wax cylinder with grooves: audio recording). [John Charles Olmsted Collection]

Graphophone, ca. 1900 Wood and metal, 11” x 17-1/4” x 16” (Trademark of an improved version of the phonograph; wax cylinder with grooves: audio recording). [John Charles Olmsted Collection]

An eclectic series of interpretations, over coffee. Moderated by Collin Gardner with Sara Arfaian, Caio Barboza, Sofia Blanco Santos, Eli Keller, Anthony Morey, and Alexander Porter. 

If we were to accept that “history” is contingent upon the depth and breadth of one’s point of view, where would the writing of history begin? What would it aim for? What would be its evidence? How could the validity of its iconic examples be established and their value quantified? While history writing is traditionally the domain of the historian, some architectural histories have been written by architects, either to accompany a specific project or to help elucidate a distinctive approach to design. Noting that the year 2016 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of two influential books of this kind, Complexity and Contradiction by Robert Venturi and L’architettura della città (The Architecture of the City) by Aldo Rossi, the aim of Happening Now is to heighten and amplify these uncertainties as we suppose only a practitioner has license to do. By highlighting a selection of objects in the Special Collections of Frances Loeb Library at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Happening Now seeks to place viewers in a position of immediacy to those artifacts and to various potential narratives about them. By staging conditions that encourage the visitor to encounter and interpret these objects, the exhibition invites unforeseen and perhaps wholly imagined historical possibilities: invented definitions, fabricated affinities, experimental and counterfactual chronologies, and speculative additions to the collection. Curated by Shantel Blakely, AB ’91, public programs manager, and Collin Gardner, MArch ’14 research associate, in conjunction with “Anachronometrics,” the final installment of the “Symposium on Architecture: All That Is Solid,” organized by Iñaki Ábalos, professor in residence of architecture.

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