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Exhibiting the Postmodern - the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale

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Exhibiting the Postmodern traces the origins and significance of the First International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale. Situating the 1980 exhibition The Presence of the Past against the larger historical backdrop in which architecture exhibitions appear, and considering their proliferation in the postmodern era, this book claims that the exhibition, beyond heralding a shift in the history of curating, marked both the beginning of the end, and the end of the beginning of the postmodern turn in architecture. Looking at the institutional changes, exhibition techniques and exhibition spaces, as well as the discourses and controversies between advocates of modern and postmodern architecture, this book narrates the development of architectural exhibitions as a ‘genre’ of cultural manifestations, while expanding on both the history of the Venice Biennale – and, more generally, of Italian architecture in the 1970s – and the history of postmodernism. It also reveals how the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale announced a changing relationship between the worlds of art and architecture, and the consequent transformation of the architectural product as end object.

Lecturer in Architectural Studies at the University of Manchester (Manchester School of Architecture), Léa-Catherine Szacka is an architect, critic, and doctor in history and theory of architecture (Bartlett School of Architecture, 2011). Szacka’s work focuses on the history of architecture exhibitions and the history and theory of postmodern architecture. Her book, Exhibiting the Postmodern was awarded the 2017 SAHGB Alice Davies Hitchcock Medallion.