M+M Program in Media and Modernity presents
Pelin Tan + Thomas Keenan
“Architecture and the Rights of a More-Than-Human World”
Monday, October 5, 2020 @5pm EST
Online Event [register here or stream here]
Discussions of the relationship between human rights and architecture tend to focus on the destruction of buildings in conflict zones or the construction of shelters in emergency conditions. Sometimes critical evaluations of bad buildings—prisons and detention centers, border walls, military installations, etc.—are the topic of these discussions. These are all essential topics, but they are not the only ones. Perhaps, in a School of Architecture, we should invert the paradigm in which architecture modestly performs affirmative or critical services in the public interest or in the cause of justice and instead ask how a link to human rights research and advocacy might disrupt or even transform some basic ideas about what architecture is and does. Current debates about labor and pedagogy within architecture might offer an opening to a different sort of relationship with human rights questions. Likewise, new forms of architectural research that are developed in partnership with human rights actors, or projects in which the architectural analysis is the human rights analysis, can explode both the social service and the critical model. And when architecture attends to non-human life, and activists to non-human rights, the encounter between these practices becomes even more complex—and it is happening.
Pelin Tan is an affiliated assoc.prof. of the Fine Arts Academy, Batman University (Turkey), Senior Researcher of the Center for Arts, Design, and Social Research and visiting 6th Keith Haring Art&Activism fellow of the Human Rights Program, Bard College, NY.
Thomas Keenan teaches human rights, media theory, literature, and directs the Human Rights Project as well as Bard’s degree program in Human Rights. He has served on the boards of a number of human rights organizations and journals, including WITNESS, Scholars at Risk, The Crimes of War Project, The Journal of Human Rights, and Humanity. He is the author of Fables of Responsibility, 1997; and with Eyal Weizman, Mengele’s Skull, 2012.