Imaging Collapse: the Aesthetics of Economic Downfall

Date and time
Tuesday 3rd June 2014

6pm (BST)


UCL Pearson Building, Exhibition Room GO07, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT (see

Imaging Collapse: the Aesthetics of Economic Downfall 

Mireille Roddier, Associate Professor, Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning, University of Michigan

Louis Moreno

Pushpa Arabindoo (Co-organiser Urban Salon)

Drawing from my proposed book project, Imaging Collapse is interested in expanding the lens through which extreme instances of urban blight and fiscal ill-being are portrayed, and to borrow from interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks in order to make sense of the ramifications of such accounts on contemporary architectural production outside of the claims generated from within the discipline. In particular, I would like to question four interdependent aspects of this production that seem worth probing: its reliance upon, contribution to, and naturalization of post-industrial ruin imagery understood through aesthetic and affect theories; its relationship to the relational aesthetics discourse coming from the art world; its capitalization by cultural institutions and the logics of curation, cultural power and recuperation; and its alleged role in creative class urban gentrification in light of the financing of architecture in an era of economic decline. While the focus of my work is not limited to Detroit, the city serves as a case study for many of its parts. It analyses and reveals the complications in much of the architectural work currently emerging out of socio-economically deprived urban contexts in the service of further production by asking: how do we negotiate the creation of architectural artifacts that are either intended for, or recuperated by, the cultural establishment, in a context marked by social violence on the general public.