The Detlef Mertins Lecture on the Histories of Modernity
Memories of the Resistance: Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky and the Architecture of Collective Dissidence, 1938-1945
A lecture by Sophie Hochhäusl, Assistant Professor, Architectural History and Theory, Stuart Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania. With commentary by Raphael Koenig, Leonard A. Lauder Fellow in Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Christianna Bonin, Ph.D. Candidate, History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture + Art, MIT and introduction by Felicity Scott, Director, PhD program in Architecture and Co-Director of the Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices program at Columbia GSAPP.
Today Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky (1897-2000) has been widely recognized as one of the most significant female figures in modern design who worked in Austria, Germany, the Soviet Union, and Turkey in the 1920s and 1930s. These decades of professional work were marked by a drastic break between 1940 and 1945, when Schütte-Lihotzky was interned for her participation in the Communist resistance against the Nazi regime. Her recollections from the years of internment became the subject of the 1984 German-language book Erinnerungen aus dem Widerstand (Memories of the Resistance).
The lecture Memories of the Resistance explores Schütte-Lihotzky’s book as a critical historical document that exemplifies the spatialization of organized dissent in the 1940s. It provides a glimpse into resistance as lived practice and how dissent became activated by solidarity and collective action. The lecture also highlights why Schütte-Lihotzky’s activism led to the ostracization of such an important architect in postwar Austria. Her struggle for the design of Holocaust memorials became entangled with the country’s tragic politics of forgetting, where only two of her plans were realized. The talk will include excerpted readings from the English language translation, which is edited by Dr. Hochhäusl, and translated by Dr. Koenig, and Ph.D. Candidate Christianna Bonin.
Sophie Hochhäusl is an Assistant Professor for Architectural History and Theory at the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining the Faculty at she was the Frieda L. Miller Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
Hochhäusl is interested in the discourse on collectivity, dissent, and difference architecture. Her scholarly work centers on modern architecture and urban culture in Austria, Germany, and the United States with a focus on spatial histories of dissidence, labor theory, environmental history, and intersectional feminism and gender studies. Currently, she is working on two forthcoming book projects. The monograph Housing Cooperative: Politics and Architecture in Vienna, 1904–1934, which elucidates the role of cooperatives in shaping architectural debates in interwar Vienna. The interdisciplinary history and translation project Memories of the Resistance: Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky and the Architecture of Collective Dissidence, 1918–1989 illuminates the Austrian architect’s participation in the Communist resistance against the Nazi regime. Hochhäusl is also the co-editor of Architecture, Environment, Territory, Essential Writings Since 1850 with Daniel Barber and Irene Cheng. Her current research has been supported by the Graham Foundation, the Botstiber Foundation for Austrian-American Studies, the Clarence Stein Fellowship for Landscape and Urban Studies, the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education and the Viennese Mayor’s Office. Hochhäusl is the recipient of a Carter Manny Award and the Bruno Zevi Award.
Professor Hochhäusl holds an M.Arch. from the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and an M.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University in History of Architecture and Urbanism. Together with artist David Hartt and architect Maya Alam, she is the organizer of the Provost sponsored year-long lecture series on The Synthetic at the University of Pennsylvania, and the convener of a forthcoming Radcliffe Seminar on feminist historiographies with artists Katarina Burin and Clarissa Tossin at Harvard University. She is part of the international working group Insurgent Domesticities (founded by Lilian Chee, Barbara Penner, Anooradha Siddiqi, and Naomi Stead) and she co-chair of the European Architectural History Network’s interest group Architecture and the Environment with Torsten Lange.
Christianna Bonin is a PhD candidate in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art program at MIT. She studies visual art and design practices from the late 19th century to the present, with a focus on interactions between Europe, Russia, and Central Asia. Her research interests revolve around cultural politics and critical distinctions of art and craft, copy and original, and conceptual and manual labor. Her dissertation is titled Radical in the Making: Art, Craft, and Politics in the Soviet Union, 1905-75. Her work has been supported by fellowships from the Fulbright Scholars Program (Russia, 2016-17), German Historical Institute, Moscow (2018), and an Alfa Fellowship at the Higher School of Economics, Moscow. She is a contributing critic at Artforum and Russian Art Focus/The Art Newspaper and was a research assistant at the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art. Christianna received a B.A. summa cum laude from Amherst College and an M.A. in art history from Williams College.
Raphael Koenig is a Leonard A. Lauder Fellow in Modern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a former Curatorial Intern at the Harvard Art Museums. He holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University, and M.A. and B.A. degrees from the École normale supérieure and the Sorbonne in Paris. He specializes in the literature and visual cultures of the French, German, and Yiddish avant-gardes, with a special focus on the interactions among politics, esthetics, theories of normativity, and the reception of self-taught art. He also works as a literary translator (Paul Scheerbart, Lesabéndio, 2016, German to French) and exhibition curator (Eye Eye Nose Mouth: Art, Disability, and Mental Illness in Nanjing, China, and Shiga-ken, Japan, Harvard University Asia Center, co-curated with Benny Shaffer, 2019; No More Fuchs Left to Give: Caricature and Mechanical Reproduction, Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, dir. Slavs & Tatars, co-curated with Arthur Fournier, 2019).
The Detlef Mertins Lecture on the Histories of Modernity is an annual lecture in honor of the life and work of Detlef Mertins (1954-2011). Previous speakers include Lucia Allais, Craig Buckley, Zeynep Cęlik Alexander, Ayala Levin, and Anthony Acciavatti.
“I came to focus on things that had been misunderstood or overlooked in the historical record and could, therefore, serve as mediators for new thought and design. The writing of architectural history can close down the past or open it up anew. It can bind historical experience into yet another ism …or it can unlock the life and modernité that resides even in the modernisms we already have.” –Detlef Mertins
Free and open to the public. Please note this lecture will not be live-streamed and will not be made available in the online media archive.
Organized by Columbia GSAPP.