May Mo(u)rn: A Site-Writing

Professor Jane Rendell

Time: 6.30pm, Thursday June 10th

Venue:  RMIT 8.11.68 (Building 8, 360 Swanston St. Level 11, lecture theatre 68, to the right of the lifts)

May Mo(u)rn is a site-writing which takes a collection of abandoned black and white photographs of modernist architectural icons found in a derelict arts and crafts house called ‘May Morn’ as a starting point for a discussion of the modernist project and its socialist ideals. Morn and mourn are homonyms, one suggests a beginning, the other an ending. Morning begins the day, while mourning – in grieving the loss of something or someone – marks an ending. Due to their deteriorating material states, the May Morn house and the paper of the photographs point towards their own disintegration – or endings, yet the buildings contained within the photographs are shown at the beginning of their life. What does it mean, now, to turn back and examine these icons of  modernism at an early moment – a spring time – when hope for a better future was not viewed as a naïvely misjudged optimism. This text-image work interweaves images, prose pieces and critical discussions of works by artists such as Elina Brotherus’s Spring (2001) and Rut Blees Luxemburg London: A Modernist Project (1997) to reflect on London’s post war social housing projects as lost utopian dreams and contemporary ideals yet worth striving for, in so doing the work explores the spatial temporality of longing – juxtaposing not only resurgence and decay, but also the siting a fascination with the backwards gaze of nostalgia in relation to anticipation as a yearning forward rather than backward.

Professor Jane Rendell BA (Hons), Dip Arch, MSc, PhD, is an architectural designer and historian, art critic and writer, her work has explored various interdisciplinary intersections: feminist theory and architectural history, fine art and architectural design, autobiographical writing and criticism. She is author of Site-Writing: The Architecture of Art Criticism (forthcoming 2010), Art and Architecture (2006), The Pursuit of Pleasure (2002) and co-editor of Pattern (2007), Critical Architecture (2007), Spatial Imagination (2005), The Unknown City (2001), Intersections(2000), Gender Space Architecture (1999) and Strangely Familiar (1995).

For details of other talks in the Architecture+Philosophy series see the website