Research

  • Vann Molyvann and the Absent Archives of Cambodian Modernism
  • GRANTEE
    Branden W. Joseph, Felicity D. Scott & Mark Wasiuta
    GRANT YEAR
    2017

Vann Molyvann, Library at Institute of Foreign Language, 1965–71, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo: Mark Wasiuta.

Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann's close relationship to the post-colonial Cambodian state provides a remarkable opportunity to investigate modern architecture's complex relations to the shifting political and geopolitical conditions of Southeast Asia in the period after World War II. This project first considers Molyvann's work in the context of the newly formed Kingdom of Cambodia (1953–70), for which he designed a large number of important civic buildings and infrastructural works—from the National Theater and Council of Ministers Building to the National Sports Complex—that served to institute and broadcast a new image of the country. In turn, it interrogates the fate of such architecture, both literally and conceptually, in the context of the military coup of 1970 and subsequent communist insurgency, leading up to the rise of the Khmer Rouge.

Branden W. Joseph is the Frank Gallipoli Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at Columbia University in New York.  He is the author of Random Order: Robert Rauschenberg and the Neo-Avant-Garde (MIT Press, 2003); Beyond the Dream Syndicate: Tony Conrad and the Arts after Cage (Zone Books, 2008); The Roh and the Cooked: Tony Conrad and Beverly Grant in Europe (August Verlag, 2012); and Experimentations: John Cage in Music, Art, and Architecture (Bloomsberry, 2016). He co-curated the exhibition Tony Oursler, UFOs, and Effigies (2013), with Mark Wasiuta at Columbia University, and was consulting curator of the major retrospective Carolee Schneemann: Kinetic Painting (2015), with Sabine Breitwieser at the Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria. Joseph has also authored numerous publications, including Biomusic (Grey Room 45, MIT Press, 2011), and with Suzanne G. Cusick, Across an Invisible Line: A Conversation about Music and Torture (Grey Room 39, MIT Press, 2011).  He is also founding coeditor of the journal Grey Room, published quarterly by MIT Press since 2000.

Felicity D. Scott is director of the PhD Program in Architecture (History and Theory), and codirector of the program in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture (CCCP) at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. She received an MAUD from Harvard University (1994) and a PhD from Princeton University (2001).  Seeking to expand and complicate the subject matter and methodological frameworks through which modern and contemporary architectural practices are addressed, her work focuses on institutions, discourses, and media-technical formats (exhibitions, publications, time-based media, etc.), which, along with broader social, economic, scientific, environmental, political, and geopolitical forces, continuously redefine the discipline.  In addition to numerous articles, she has published Architecture or Techno-Utopia: Politics After Modernism (MIT Press, 2007), Living Archive 7: Ant Farm (ACTAR, 2008), Disorientation: Bernard Rudofsky in the Empire of Signs (Sternberg Press, 2016), and Outlaw Territories: Environments of Insecurity/Architectures of Counter-Insurgency (Zone Books, 2016).

Mark Wasiuta is a curator, writer, and architect who teaches at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP), where he is codirector of the Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture Program. Over the last decade, as director of exhibitions at the GSAPP, he has developed a body of research and archival exhibitions that focus on under-examined practices of the postwar period. His recent exhibitions, produced with various collaborators, include Environmental Communications: Contact High, Information Fall-Out: Buckminster Fuller's World Game, and Les Levine: Bio-Tech Rehearsals 1967­–1973. Other exhibitions recently on view are Detox USA, at the Istanbul Design Biennial; Control Syntax Rio at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam; and Every Building in Baghdad: The Rifat Chadirji Archives at the Arab Image Foundation, at the Graham Foundation in Chicago. He also directs Collecting Architecture Territories, a multi-year research program that analyzes global institutions that have emerged from private collections. Wasiuta is recipient of recent grants from the Asian Cultural Council, the Graham Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts.