Christoph Lindner is Professor and Dean of the College of Design at the University of Oregon and Honorary Research Professor in Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. Christoph is an interdisciplinary urban and cultural theorist whose work spans the fields of architecture, geography, media arts, visual culture, and urban planning and design. His work focuses in particular on the interrelations between globalization, cities, and creative practice. Recent book publications include Imagining New York City (Oxford University Press, 2015), as well as the edited volumes Deconstructing the High Line (Rutgers University Press, 2017), Global Garbage (Routledge, 2016), Cities Interrupted (Bloomsbury, 2016), and Paris-Amsterdam Underground (Amsterdam University Press, 2013). He is currently working on a new book about creative slow practices in global cities.
His talk explores brutalist architecture and creative activism in locations such as Caracas, London, and Venice. It argues that the current, popular fascination with brutalism is part of the same, larger phenomenon that has led to the recent explosion of interest in postindustrial ruin aesthetics, which has its roots in an anxiety over the ways in which globalization is transforming urban space, reshaping the built environment, and exacerbating social-spatial divisions. The talk focuses on a case study that combines brutalism and ruin aesthetics in a new, hybrid form specific to the era of globalization: the Torre David, an unfinished corporate skyscraper in Caracas that was occupied by the city’s poor and temporarily transformed into a vertical squat. Adapting Arjun Appadurai’s concept of spectral housing, the talk considers how the photographic and filmic treatment of Torre David’s “accidental brutalism” produces a transnational spectacle of the abject. For from being subversive, this spectacle ultimately reinforces contemporary urbanism’s addiction to gentrification, stylized boutique living, and glossy, generic architecture.