Publication

  • Depositions: Cultura and the Counsel of Roberto Burle Marx
    Catherine Seavitt Nordenson
    Author
    University of Texas Press, 2018
  • GRANTEE
    Catherine Seavitt Nordenson
    GRANT YEAR
    2017

Roberto Burle Marx at the Sítio Santo Antônio da Bica, c. 1961, Barra de Guaratiba, Brazil. Photo: Marcel Gautherot. Courtesy of the Instituto Moreira Salles.

The modernist landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx (1909–1994) designed significant public landscapes in Brazil, from small municipal plazas in Recife in the 1930s, to large public parks for several Brazilian cities during the early 1960s, most significantly the Parque do Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro. Three years after the right-wing military coup of 1964, Burle Marx was appointed by the dictatorship to serve as a member of the new Conselho Federal de Cultura (Federal Cultural Council). This book presents and contextualizes the eighteen environmental position pieces delivered during his tenure as cultural counselor from 1967 to 1974, some of the dictatorship's most oppressive years. Despite the inherent conflict in working with the military regime, Burle Marx considered this advisory position to be an important cultural project, one providing an effective platform for environmental advocacy while exhibiting a bold voice of caution against rapid development, resource exploitation, and ecological devastation.

Catherine Seavitt Nordenson is associate professor of landscape architecture at the City College of New York and principal of Catherine Seavitt Studio, New York. A registered architect and landscape architect, she is a graduate of the Cooper Union and Princeton University, a fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and a recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship for study in Brazil. Her research includes design adaptation to sea-level rise in urban coastal environments, as well as the novel transformation of landscape restoration practices, given the dynamics of climate change. She is also interested in the intersection of political power, environmental activism, and public health, particularly as seen through the design of public space and policy. She is coauthor of On the Water: Palisade Bay (Hatje Cantz, 2010) and coeditor of Waterproofing New York (UR Terreform, 2016). Her work has been published in Artforum, Avery Review, JoLA, LA+, Praxis, and Topos.