• Joséphine Baker and the Colonial Modern
    Ines Weizman
    Sternberg Press, 2025
    Ines Weizman

Hrair Sarkissian, “Interior of Orient Palace Hotel in Damascus,” 2022. Digital photograph. Courtesy the artist

This publication imagines the experiences of performer Joséphine Baker in the shadow of the Second World War. Baker at times travelled alongside, in advance of, or behind Allied soldiers, alternately conducting acts of espionage for the Free French Army and entertainment. Her perilous trajectory across the shifting borders of the war zones of North Africa and the Middle East is known only in broad terms. Evidence that could detail the series of places where she performed between 1941 and 1943 is almost completely lost. Only a few faint traces, speculations, rumors, and documents indicate Baker’s performances in military camps, clubs, cabarets, casinos, theatres, and “gin joints” across the region. This book is a speculative architectural travelogue in which Baker’s personal notes, correspondence, and fragments of media footage are used to trace the political, racial, and religious conflicts encountered along her journey.

Ines Weizman is head of PhD at the School of Architecture, Royal College of Art in London and professor of architectural theory and design at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. She also directs the Centre for Documentary Architecture (CDA), an interdisciplinary research collective of architectural historians, filmmakers, and digital technologists. Between 2012–20 she was professor of architectural theory at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and director of the Bauhaus Institute. Among her publications are 100+ : Neue Perspektiven auf die Bauhaus-Rezeption (Jovis, 2021); Documentary Architecture. Dissidence through Architecture (ARQ Editiones, 2020); and Dust & Data: Traces of the Bauhaus across 100 Years (Spector Books, 2019). With the CDA she curated the exhibition The Matter of Data that was shown with different thematic focus between 2019–22 in Weimar, Tel Aviv, Berlin, Porto, Prague. Her installation on Joséphine Baker and modern architecture across the colonized Arab world was conceived for the curator’s (Lesley Lokko) special projects section “gender & geography” at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2023. It has since been shown also at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin and the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale.