As part of the first edition of the New York Architecture Book Fair, Storefront for Art and Architecture presents Architecture Books – Yet to be Written, an exhibition that invites us to reflect upon the cultural contribution of architecture through the medium of the book from 1982 to today. With an archeological and projective twist, the installation seeks to celebrate and evaluate both the existing and the missing volumes of a history still in the writing.
Storefront was founded in 1982 as an alternative platform for discourse and debate that brings important issues to the forefront, and that extends beyond ideological and disciplinary boundaries. The period of exploration for the first edition of the New York Architecture Book Fair coincides with this recent history, taking the last 35 years as the starting point for a discussion about our contemporaneity. The series of programs organized as part of the book fair produce a forum for discussion and debate about the books that allow us to understand architectural discourse in a wider cultural, social, and geographical context. The project focuses on the ways in which architects, as well as urban planners, landscape architects, and all professions and people who engage in the making of places and spaces, contribute to our understanding of the built environment.
Questioning the idea of the canon, this project seeks to broaden the existing references for architecture culture, which have served to homogenize architectural discourse. With the purpose of opening up the conversation to new ideas, Storefront launched a Global Survey of Architecture Books that reached more than 1600 scholars, critics, museum directors, historians, and others from 98 countries, asking them to contribute nominations of books from the past 35 years that are fundamental to the development of ideas and culture in architecture.
A selection of the nominated books, with brief statements that contextualize their relevance, are presented in the installation as the structural support for a series of bookshelves that will be populated by additional publications throughout the duration of the exhibition. The bookshelves are affixed to the rotating facade panels, designed by Vito Acconci and Steven Holl, that connect the street to the inside of Storefront’s gallery space. Mostly empty to start, the shelves will densify over the course of the exhibition with a growing selection of nominated books submitted by invited groups, including non-profit organizations, students, independent publishers, creative collectives, and gallery visitors. Ultimately, however, the space will remain relatively sparse in relation to the monolithic shelves, reminding us that many of the crucial books are yet to be written.
A series of visualizations upon the walls of the gallery space present the scope of the project and prompt visitors to actively suggest, think about, and reflect upon the contemporary context of architectural publications.
The exhibition, along with the first edition of the New York Architecture Book Fair, provokes us to reimagine our personal collections, the existing infrastructures of cultural production and dissemination, and the algorithms that recommend our next reading material.