The City

The City: Traces of Urban Memories

Monday, May 10, 2021–3:00 PM
AAR Zoom
Central European Time
Rome, Italy
A hand-drawn engraved and printed map of Naples by Étienne Du Perac and Antoine Lafréry from 1566

Detail of View/Map of Naples, Étienne Du Perac (designer) and Antoine Lafréry (editor), 1566, 54 x 83 cm

This conference is part of the two-day series “Celebrating the City,” taking place May 10–11. Learn more about “Reading the City | Leggere la città,” the second event in the series.

Cities, like any other forms of human settlements and like works of art, are in constant flux, a process of shaping and reshaping, of being erased, demolished, newly designed, renovated, and preserved. Like a canvas on which marks of artistic activities—lines, scratches, stains of colors, and spots—are visually documented, the urban landscapes accumulate and display through their particular structures, planning, architecture, parks and public monuments, histories of urban creativity, and imagined landscapes of inhabitants. Thus urban spaces could be read through both the plethora of built substances that turns a space into a place and the markers of remembering and forgetting. Sites epitomize durations and changes and embody a sense of time.

This conference gathers several academics and intellectuals to discuss the city as a remembered and constructed entity—an architectural tangible artifact and a product of our thoughts. In its core are the stories and histories of the citizens of cities as reflected, or rather imprinted, on the formation of the city’s urban spaces and its delicate receptive surfaces.

Participants include: architectural historian Esra Akcan (Cornell University); art historian Dario Gamboni (University of Geneva); architectural theoretician and journalist Niklas Maak (FAZ Germany); art historian Tanja Michalsky (Bibliotheca Hertziana Rome); architect Eyal Weizman (Goldsmiths, University of London); and architect Mabel Wilson (Columbia University).

Download a PDF of the event program.

This conference, to be presented on Zoom, is free and open to the public. The start time is 3:00pm Central European Time (9:00am Eastern Time).

The City: Traces of Urban Memories is co-sponsored by the Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max Planck Institute for Art History.

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Giovanna Silva – Narratives/Relazioni

Monday, November 9, 2020–6:00 PM
AAR Zoom
Central European Time
Rome, Italy
Color photographs of three nuns taking a selfie in front of a Roman fountain

Detail of Giovanna Silva, Rome2020, 2020, color photograph (artwork © Giovanna Silva)

Giovanna Silva is a photographer and publisher. Trained as an architect, she works through travel, exploring cities and their recent histories with her camera. Silva will discuss her books, in particular the series Narratives, which gets its title from the personal narratives of the nineteenth century and is based on her exploration of war-torn places. She is currently working on a volume about Rome, as seen through the walks she took through the city with local resident-guides.

Silva is the 2020 ENEL Foundation Italian Fellow in Architecture, Urban Design, and Landscape Architecture.

This event, to be presented on Zoom and held in English, is free and open to the public. The start time is 6:00pm Central European Time (12:00 noon Eastern Time).

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Avinoam Shalem – The City Objectified: Visual Histories of Withdrawals

Monday, September 14, 2020–6:00 PM
AAR Zoom
Central European Time
Rome, Italy
Detail of a 1588 map by Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg called "A Bird’s-eye view of Damascus"

Detail of a bird’s-eye view of Damascus, 1588, Georg Braun and Frans Hogenberg, Civitates orbis terrarum (Cologne, 1572–1617)

Like plants and any living creatures, urban centers are born, and gradually grow and even die. We, the citizens living in these cities and metropoles, accept the city we dwell in, as the spatial framework for our movements, acts, and thoughts. Like the sea, the city engulfs and absorbs us. But then, when was the city visually regarded and alongside depicted as a comprehensive and intact entity?

In this short lecture by AAR Director Avinoam Shalem (2016 Resident), the specific and crucial moments of discovering the image of the city as a whole, its wide-ranging skyline, full profile, and clear outer borders, are highlighted. Thus, histories of the formation of distant gazes, which enabled us to capture the city as a whole—as an object of visual desire—are disclosed, and attention is drawn to the implications of these visual withdrawals. Likewise, the sense of detachment is exposed, in which distance moves beyond its denotation of spatial stance and appears as related to the discovery of the historical time.

This lecture, to be presented on Zoom and held in English, is free and open to the public. The start time is 6:00pm Central European Time (12:00 noon Eastern Time).

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Andreas Scholl & Lynne Lancaster – The Pergamon Panorama in Berlin: Where Tradition and Innovation Converge

Monday, November 2, 2020–6:00 PM
AAR Zoom
Central European Time
Rome, Italy
2020 Conversations - Pergamon Panorama

The Pergamon Panorama at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, with the visitors’ platform as seen from above (photograph by Tom Schulze and © asisi)

Andreas Scholl, director of Antikensammlung Berlin, and Lynne Lancaster (2002 Fellow), Andrew W. Mellon Humanities Professor at the American Academy in Rome, will discuss “The Pergamon Panorama in Berlin: Where Tradition and Innovation Converge.”

Scholl will speak on the Pergamon Panorama in Berlin, a project that takes the nineteenth-century concept of the cyclorama and uses a combination of traditional methods and digital technology to bring it into the twenty-first century to re-create the ancient city of Pergamon. A conversation between Scholl and Lancaster about the project will follow the presentation.

This Conversations/Conversazioni, to be presented on Zoom and held in English, is free and open to the public. The start time is 6:00pm Central European Time (12:00 noon Eastern Time).

The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation is the 2020–21 season sponsor of Conversations/Conversazioni: From the American Academy in Rome.

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Lynne Lancaster – Rome “Urbs Pensilis”: A Hanging City and Its Hanging Gardens

Monday, November 30, 2020–6:00 PM
AAR Zoom
Central European Time
Rome, Italy
Color engraving of the hanging gardens of Semiramis at Babylon

Detail of Philips Galle (after Maarten van Heemskerck), Walls of Babylon, 1572, engraving colored by hand and pasted on parchment album page, 209 x 261 mm (artwork in the public domain; photograph provided by the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam)

Pliny the Elder called Rome an “urbs pensilis,” a hanging city. The expression was clearly a reference to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the horti pensili or Hanging Gardens of Babylon. In this talk, AAR Humanities Professor Lynne Lancaster (2002 Fellow) will explore how the image of ancient Rome was influenced by the Hellenistic conception of the Seven Wonders of the World by focusing on one of the Wonders: the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

In making his comment, Pliny was referring to a very large drain, the Cloaca Maxima, and the network of underground service tunnels and sewers that supported the city, but Rome also had hanging gardens like the Wonder itself—gardens that were supported from below so that they “floated” over the city. Both the conceptions—the hanging city and the hanging gardens—were expressions of technological feats of engineering, which made Rome the ideal city to host and even to be a Wonder.

This lecture, to be presented on Zoom and held in English, is free and open to the public. The start time is 6:00pm Central European Time (12:00 noon Eastern Time).

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Jorge Otero-Pailos & Sheena Wagstaff – Roots of the City

Thursday, March 11, 2021–12:00 PM
AAR Zoom
Eastern Time
New York, NY
United States
Installation view of Jorge Otero-Pailos’s "The Ethics of Dust" at Westminster Hall in 2016

Installation view of Jorge Otero-Pailos’s The Ethics of Dust at Westminster Hall in 2016, commissioned by Artangel (photograph by Marcus J. Leith)

If art is a vehicle for reframing preservation, what impact could that have on practitioners? Or the public’s attitudes toward preservation as a discipline? This Conversation/Conversazioni will explore the emotive power of place, space, and objects, particularly as they relate to memory, presence, and endurance over time.

Jorge Otero-Pailos is an artist, preservationist, and professor and director of the Historic Preservation Program in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University. Sheena Wagstaff is Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The discussion will be moderated by Elizabeth Rodini, Andrew Heiskell Arts Director at the American Academy in Rome.

This Conversations/Conversazioni, to be presented on Zoom and held in English, is free and open to the public. The start time is 12:00pm Eastern Time (6:00pm Central European Time).

The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation is the 2020–21 season sponsor of Conversations/Conversazioni: From the American Academy in Rome.

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Pamela O. Long & Nicola Camerlenghi – The City of Rome: Urban Infrastructure and Urban Form from Medieval to Early Modern Times

Tuesday, April 13, 2021–6:00 PM
AAR Zoom
Central European Time
Rome, Italy
2021 Conversations - Pamela O. Long and Nicola Camerlenghi

Detail of Anthonis van den Wijngaerde, View of Rome from the Janiculum, 1540–50, pen and brown ink, brown and blue wash, over black chalk, on 3 pieces of paper glued together, 8 5/16 x 51 3/16 in. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Since Rome was not built in a day, how can we understand the processes by which the city developed? Nicola Camerlenghi and Pamela O. Long (2004 Fellow) have addressed this challenge for the medieval and early modern city, respectively.

Camerlenghi, associate professor of art history at Dartmouth College and digital humanities fellow at Villa I Tatti, has developed a diachronic, digital map of towers, bell towers, and other features to chart the medieval city’s network of power and surveillance. Long, an independent scholar of late medieval and Renaissance history, has studied long runs of documents and numerous printed maps across various Roman archives uncovering conflicts and problems during the late sixteenth century. Both scholars have then confronted their primary evidence with a first-hand, holistic engagement with the city. This Conversations/Conversazioni will treat their different but interrelated approaches to the evolving Eternal City.

This conversation, to be presented on Zoom, is free and open to the public. The start time is 6:00pm Central European Time (12:00 noon Eastern Time).

The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation is the 2020–21 season sponsor of Conversations/Conversazioni: From the American Academy in Rome.

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Rebecca Zorach & Nicole Marroquin – Toward Freedom: Chicago Muralists in the Struggle for Liberation

Tuesday, March 9, 2021–6:00 PM
AAR Zoom
Central European Time
Rome, Italy
2021 Conversations - Rebecca Zorach and Nicole Marroquin

William Walker, Eugene “Eda” Wade, and other artists, detail of The Wall of Truth, 1969 (photograph from the Public Art Workshop)

In August 1967, a group of artists in Chicago created a mural of Black heroes, The Wall of Respect, which quickly became a rallying point for activists, neighborhood residents, and cultural workers and spawned a broader community mural movement not only in Chicago but nationwide. It is uncontroversial to say that such murals represented the aspirations and political struggles of communities. But art critics and historians have tended to downplay their political agency as well as their artistic importance, thinking of them as affirming but ultimately anodyne expressions of identity.

What if instead we consider murals as interventions in and contestations of urban space? What would it mean to think of murals as shaping space and people’s experience of it, mediating relationships among groups, staking claims to visibility, belonging, and the right to the city? Rebecca Zorach and Nicole Marroquin will address these questions with examples drawn from the long history of public art and political movements in Chicago.

Rebecca Zorach (2021 Resident) is the Mary Jane Crowe Professor in Art and Art History at Northwestern University, and Nicole Marroquin is an interdisciplinary artist and associate professor of art education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

This conversation, to be presented on Zoom, is free and open to the public. The start time is 6:00pm Central European Time (12:00 noon Eastern Time).

The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation is the 2020–21 season sponsor of Conversations/Conversazioni: From the American Academy in Rome.

Watch the video

Mary T. Boatwright & Mia Fuller – Colonial Cities and Imperial Citizens

Tuesday, February 23, 2021–6:00 PM
AAR Zoom
Central European Time
Rome, Italy
Black and white aerial photograph of the Italian city of Littoria, showing buildings, roads, and plazas

The Italian city of Littoria, founded in 1932 by Benito Mussolini, was renamed Latina in 1946

Augustus and other emperors established some 150 colonies in the provinces and Italy itself. Population displacement is but one aspect of the turmoil such settlements incurred. Did such colonies, said “to embody the Roman people’s unparalleled greatness,” contribute to an imperial “Romanitas”? How did their urban forms contribute to making “Roman” the empire’s sixty-million-plus population of differing cultures, languages, and religions, especially given the lag time to actually build such cities?

Mussolini’s regime self-consciously invoked ancient models, not only by staging him as a new Augustus through urban works, but by founding entirely new towns—147 of them in the 1930s. Focusing on the best-known case (the Pontine Marshes reclamation), this conversation will explore parallels and differences across eras. How did the state-driven settlements of Italians from one region to another inspire or discourage senses of citizenship? Were rituals of foundation as important under Fascism as they were in antiquity?

Mary T. Boatwright (2021 Resident) is professor emerita of classical studies at Duke University, and Mia Fuller (1998 Fellow) is the Gladyce Arata Terrill Distinguished [Associate] Professor of Italian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. The discussion will be moderated by Lynne Lancaster, Andrew W. Mellon Humanities Professor at the American Academy in Rome.

This conversation, to be presented on Zoom, is free and open to the public. The start time is 6:00pm Central European Time (12:00 noon Eastern Time).

The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation is the 2020–21 season sponsor of Conversations/Conversazioni: From the American Academy in Rome.

Watch the video

David Nirenberg & Avinoam Shalem – On Ghettoes: Medieval, Modern, and Metaphorical

Tuesday, February 2, 2021–6:00 PM
AAR Zoom
Central European Time
Rome, Italy
Color photograph of Campo di Ghetto Nuovo in Venice, featuring an open plaza with people and dogwalkers in the foreground, and six and seven story residential buildings in the background, each painted in shades of red, tan, and yellow

View of Campo di Ghetto Nuovo in Venice in 2009 (photograph by h_laca and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license)

The first Conversations/Conversazioni of the calendar year will feature David Nirenberg (2021 Resident), the Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Distinguished Service Professor of Medieval History and Social Thought at the University of Chicago, where he is also dean of the Divinity School, and AAR Director Avinoam Shalem (2016 Resident).

“Ghetto” emerged as a word to describe a specific late-medieval phenomenon: the creation in Christian cities of segregated and walled neighborhoods in which Jews were required to live. Today its meanings are vaster, and it serves as a metaphor for many different types of containment and segregation. How did these urban spaces emerge? Why did they prove so useful as marginal spaces and a metaphor? And what work do the phenomenon and the metaphor do today?

This conversation, to be presented on Zoom, is free and open to the public. The start time is 6:00pm Central European Time (12:00 noon Eastern Time).

The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation is the 2020–21 season sponsor of Conversations/Conversazioni: From the American Academy in Rome.

Watch the video
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