Architecture of the Off-Modern by Svetlana Boym

By Svetlana Boym

Svetlana Boym's Architecture of the Off-Modern is an innovative travel in the course of the background and afterlife of Vladimir Tatlin's mythical yet unbuilt Monument to the 3rd foreign of 1920. Boym lines the vicissitudes of Tatlin's tower, from its reception within the Nineteen Twenties to its privileged remember in "the reservoir of unofficial utopian goals" of the Soviet period. Boym deals another heritage of modernism, postulating the "architecture of event" as a poetic version for "third-route" considering expertise, background, and aesthetic tradition.

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3. Georg Simmel, “The Adventurer,” in On Individuality and Social Forms, ed. Donald Levine (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), 187–198. Simmel’s theory of adventure was in itself a disciplinary adventure, a critique of the capitalist commodification of daily life but also an alternative to the disparaging Marxist conception of the public realm and civil society, and to Weber’s and Lukacs’s understanding of modernity as disenchantment and transcendental homelessness. Simmel himself fit neither into the German academic establishment of his time nor into contemporary disciplinary systems of thought.

The Palace of Projects was installed at the Armory in New York and at the Kokerei Zollverein in Essen, Germany. His installations amid the industrial ruins highlight a trend in contemporary art and architecture that follows the best traditions of the off-modern in the rethinking of techne, estrangement, and toleration for the ruins of modernity. 35 35, 36 37 From the Tate Modern in London to Mass MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, and in various artistic projects from those of Gordon Matta-Clark to those of Jane and Louise Wilson, we can observe this fascinating intersection between architecture, installation art and experimental literature.

Sokov places avant-garde monuments into a new cultural context that is not merely postmodern but border-zone, the space of unofficial and informal architecture of fences and locks, of nondescript maintenance buildings, no-man’s-lands that bear a patina of repressed history. His materials are those of the zone that he tried to transport into the “free zone” of his imagination. In Sokov’s work postmodernity quotes prehistory. Or perhaps, as Kabakov suggests, postmodernity in his work becomes a living memory: losing its cerebral quotation marks, it turns into an occasion for physical comedy or boundless melancholy.

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