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Havana Modern: Critical Readings in Cuban Architecture

Event Label
Book presentation
Organisational Units
Art and Architecture
Location Description
Schillerplatz 3
1010 Vienna

Edited by Rubén Gallo. Presentations by Rubén Gallo, Terence Gower, Lisa Schmidt-Colinet & Alexander Schmoeger & Florian Zeyfang.

Unlike the most Revolutions, the Cuban experiment did not rebuild the country’s capital to reflect the new regime’s values: instead, it preserved all that was there before, including the hotels and casinos built under Batista’s regime. Today Havana is not only a vitrine of modern architecture, but also a metropolis that continues to operate as it did in 1959: buildings, automobiles, cabarets, cinemas from the 1950s are still there, and the values of the modern movement are still current in a city that remains untouched by postmodernism, deconstruction or twenty-first century aesthetics. This volume brings together architectural historians, cultural critics and artists who suggest new ways of reading the last modern city in the world.

Contributions by: Guillermo S. ARSUAGA, Miguel CABALLERO, Marco CASTILLO, Coop HIMMELB(L)AU, Darja FILIPPOVA , Rubén GALLO, Carlos GARAICOA, Terence GOWER, Andrés JAQUE, Sylvia LAVIN, Iván L. MUNUERA, Bart-Jan POLMAN, Lisa SCHMIDT-COLINET, Alexander SCHMOEGER, Mark WIGLEY, Florian ZEYFANG

Publisher: ARQUINE

In this presentation Rubén Gallo will give an introduction to his book Havana Modern: Critical Readings in Cuban Architecture, Terence Gower will present Havana Case Study: The American Embassy and Florian Zeyfang, Lisa Schmidt-Colinet & Alexander Schmoeger will talk about their installations and show excerpts of their film Institute Above Ground.                    

Rubén Gallo is the author of several books on twentieth-century culture, including Mexican Modernity: The Avant-Garde and the Cultural Revolution (MIT, 2005), Freud’s Mexico: Into the Wilds of Psychoanalysis (MIT, 2010), and Proust’s Latin Americans (Hopkins, 2014). He has published two novels —Teoría y práctica de La Habana (2017) and Muerte en La Habana (2021)—and is currently at work on a cultural history of Modernism in Cuba. He teaches at Princeton University and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Terence Gower is a Canadian artist based between New York and Mexico City. He has shown at many museums, biennials and galleries around the world. His long association with Mexico was the subject of the exhibition The Good Neighbour at Americas Society, New York in 2021. He is currently preparing an intervention at the Barcelona Pavilion based on his study of the 1920s literature and urban culture of Barcelona. His series of installations on cold war US embassy design, including the project featured in this book, will be brought together in a solo exhibition at Toronto Power Plant in winter 2023-24. His publications include: Ciudad Moderna (2006), Display Architecture (2007), Havana Case Study (2017), and Terence Gower: The Good Neighbour (2021).

Lisa Schmidt-Colinet and Alexander Schmoeger practice as architects in Vienna, and Florian Zeyfang as an artist and filmmaker in Berlin. Since 2003 they have collaborated on researching Cuban architecture and art through publications, exhibitions, and audiovisual installations. Their work has been widely exhibited in Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, Havana, and Gdansk, among others. Their films have been screened at festivals such as the Berlinale, the Viennale, Kurzfilmfestival Oberhausen, and others. With Eugenio Valdés Figueroa, they published Pabellón Cuba, 4D–4 Dimensions, 4 Decades, an extensive reader on art, architecture, and film in Cuba (b_books: Berlin 2008), based on an exhibition project for the 8th Havana Biennial in 2003 conceived by the artist’s collective RAIN (Siggi Hofer, Susi Jirkuff, Lisa Schmidt-Colinet, Alexander Schmoeger, Eugenio Valdés Figueroa, Florian Zeyfang).