Beatriz Colomina: The Perversions of Modern Architecture: Everything You Wanted to Know About It But Were Afraid to Ask

grainy black and white photo of a man leaning over a table top
Beatriz Colomina has written about Italian architect, photographer, and "dangerous erotomaniac" Carlo Mollino. photo / provided
Three erotic photos of women from the 1960s
Photographs from Epifania, a 1961 exhibition of Carlo Mollino's work. photo / provided

Edgar A. Tafel Lecture Series

Beatriz Colomina is a professor of history and theory in the School of Architecture and founding director of the program in media and modernity at Princeton University. She has written extensively on questions of architecture, art, sexuality, and media. Her books include Are We Human? Notes on an Archeology of Design (Lars Müller, 2016), The Century of the Bed (Verlag für Moderne Kunst, 2015), Manifesto Architecture: The Ghost of Mies (Sternberg, 2014), Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X-197X (Actar, 2010), Domesticity at War (MIT Press, 2007), Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media (MIT Press, 1994), and Sexuality and Space (Princeton Architectural Press, 1992). She has curated a number of exhibitions including Clip/Stamp/Fold (2006), Playboy Architecture (2012), and Radical Pedagogies (2014). Along with Mark Wigley, she is curator of the third Istanbul Design Biennial (2016).

Modern architecture was never straightforward. Despite the surface rhetoric of rationality, clarity, and efficiency, modern designers engage with everything that escapes rationality — sexuality, violence, exoteric philosophies, occultism, disease, the psyche, pharmacology, extraterrestrial life, chance, the primitive, the animal, the fetish, etc. Through a series of case studies of both mainstream figures and misfits, from the early 20th century until today, in this lecture, Colomina will explore the backwater of modern architecture to reveal the astonishing richness and eccentricity of the field.