From 28 August until 26 October 2008 the project ‘In the Desert of Modernity: Colonial Planning and After’ will take place at the House of World Cultures in Berlin, Germany. The project consists of an exhibition, film, performance, talks and an international conference.
From the 1930s on, colonial North Africa was transformed into a laboratory for European modernisation fantasies. Casablanca was seen as a test case for the ‘city of tomorrow’, radical redevelopment plans included. The car-oriented city, the first underground car park and the largest American-style swimming pool were planned for ‘French North Africa’. The developments projected here envisaged as a blueprint for Europe’s metropolises, too, and intended to reform the way people lived.
In the Desert of Modernity presents works of architecture and urban concepts that arose under the state of emergency that was colonial rule, a state influenced, in turn, by the anti-colonial liberation struggles and trans-national migration in North Africa and Western Europe. The example of the building projects dating from the 1950s and 1960s shows that European modernity would have been inconceivable without colonialism. In the Desert of Modernity presents recent research projects and little-known reciprocal relationships. The modern mode of mass construction tried out in North Africa soon migrated to the peripheries of Western European cities, where the all-too-familiar suburbs arose to accommodate hundreds of thousands of people. In many cases, the inhabitants living in the outskirts of Paris and London originated from the former colonies. Colonial history returned home to the metropolises. At the same time, the unquestioned technocratic plans the architects of European modernity were lastingly shaken by their experience of a North Africa challenged by liberation movements. The architects began to think in categories of a ‘different modernity’. An inexorable process of decolonisation began that is still nowhere near complete.
For more information, visit the website http://www.hkw.de/en/programm2008/wueste_der_moderne/_wueste_der_moderne…
Artistic director: Marion von Osten
Curators: Tom Avermaete, Serhat Karakayali, Marion von Osten
Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien, Architekturfakultät der Delft University of Technology, Casamémoire / Casablanca, CPKC (Center for Post-Colonial Knowledge and Culture Berlin), École Supérieure d’Architecture de Casablanca
Tom Avermaete, Serhat Karakayali and Marion von Osten in collaboration with Wafae Belarbi, Madeleine Bernstorff, Jesko Fezer, Brigitta Kuster, Andreas Müller, Daniel Weiss and students at the Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien, the faculty of architecture at the Delft University of Technology and the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Casablanca.
The exhibition architecture and design has been realised by Jesko Fezer, Andreas Müller and Anna Voswinckel.