Productive Universals—Specific Situations
Critical Engagements in Art, Architecture, and Urbanism
448 pp., 6 x 8 in, 82 color illus., 27 b&w illus.
- Published: September 17, 2019
Essays chart the shift of the concept of universality from essence to modality, from the abstract and static to the performative and productive.
In today's increasingly digitalized and neoliberal societies, debates on universals and specifics have gained new momentum. This volume discusses the entanglements of the universal in the fields of art, architecture, and urbanism from the nineteenth century to the present. Highlighting the interrelation of the specific and the universal in each historical situation, these essays venture an epistemic shift of the concept of universality: from essence to modality, from the abstract and static to the performative and productive.
Ursula Biemann, Gaia Caramellino, Filippo De Pieri, Johan F. Hartle, Samia Henni, Christa Kamleithner, Anne Kockelkorn, Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans, Emily E. Scott, Laila Seewang, Manuel Shvartzberg Carrió, Ariane Varela Braga, Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll, Alla Vronskaya, Andrew Stefan Weiner, Nina Zschocke
Are we ready again to ask universal questions? The editors and authors of this timely and refreshing volume say emphatically: Yes! But do not fear the old specter of transcendence. Each essay is packed with particulars, in a running dialogue about the specific conditions under which universals appear, and about their performative effects. Each asks: What is a universal, and what does it do? For whom, how, and why? And each responds with new critical scholarship in architecture, urbanism, and the visual arts, refashioned here as a highly particular science of universality.
Reinhold Martin, Professor of Architecture at Columbia GSAPP, New York
To counter the populist pull of a post-truth era this collection dares to return to a thought of universality—and successfully introduces the applicable concept of the productive universal. It must work! Planetary urbanism, the algorithmic management of a global population, and climate crises are all at stake. This thought-provoking book invites architects and urbanists to think through the friction of concrete occasions toward concerns that are universally shared.
Hélène Frichot, Professor of Architecture in Critical Studiesand Gender Theory, KTH Stockholm