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Exposing autonomous architecture and Flemish political autonomy

(2019)
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Abstract
Exposing Autonomous Architecture and Flemish Political Autonomy Over the past five decades, Belgium was transformed into a federal state, after persistent demands for more cultural and then political autonomy for Flanders, the country’s Dutch-speaking part. This process also impacted the institutionalization of architectural culture, and the discourse on architecture in the culturally and politically divided country. Especially from 1992 onward, the Flemish government took various initiatives to stimulate architecture. In 2001, for example, a Flemish Architecture Institute (VAi) was established, with a name that echoed the then successful Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi). However, the Vai was much smaller in size, housed in the deSingel multidisciplinary arts centre in Antwerp, where architecture had already been programmed as an autonomous artistic discipline among other arts in previous years. This paper maps the intersection of institutionalized architectural culture and identity politics in Flanders through the exhibitions Arquitectura de Flandes (Dubois, Barcelona, 1997) and Homeward: Contemporary Architecture from Flanders (Borret et al., six European cities and Venice Biennale, 1999-2000). They were each produced by an institutional forerunner of the VAi, and commissioned by the Flemish government to represent the region abroad. Regionalist politics lurk in the institutional 'paratexts' of the two exhibitions, but the documented architectural production and the curatorial discourse ignored or even confronted regionalist recuperation. The first show presented a dozen architects, each with a few exemplary realizations, and architectural publications as proof of an architectural culture in Flanders. The catalogue rejects attempts to formulate a shared 'Flemish' architectural identity, while the cultural diplomatic context of this exhibition just highlights investments in cultural and political regionalism: a Flemish-Catalan cultural exchange agreement. Homeward, on the other hand, traverses Flanders as a fragmented North-West European territory, full of occasions for ever-changing contextual architecture. In doing so, it turns against an earlier view on autonomous architecture, and against some distinctly Flemish condition.
Keywords
Cultural politics, architecture exhibitions, Flanders, architecture museum

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Liefooghe, Maarten. 2019. “Exposing Autonomous Architecture and Flemish Political Autonomy.” In .
APA
Liefooghe, M. (2019). Exposing autonomous architecture and Flemish political autonomy. Presented at the 72nd Annual International Conference of the SAH.
Vancouver
1.
Liefooghe M. Exposing autonomous architecture and Flemish political autonomy. 2019.
MLA
Liefooghe, Maarten. “Exposing Autonomous Architecture and Flemish Political Autonomy.” 2019. Print.
@inproceedings{8613420,
  abstract     = {Exposing Autonomous Architecture and Flemish Political Autonomy

Over the past five decades, Belgium was transformed into a federal state, after persistent demands for more cultural and then political autonomy for Flanders, the country{\textquoteright}s Dutch-speaking part. This process also impacted the institutionalization of architectural culture, and the discourse on architecture in the culturally and politically divided country. Especially from 1992 onward, the Flemish government took various initiatives to stimulate architecture. In 2001, for example, a Flemish Architecture Institute (VAi) was established, with a name that echoed the then successful Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi). However, the Vai was much smaller in size, housed in the deSingel multidisciplinary arts centre in Antwerp, where architecture had already been programmed as an autonomous artistic discipline among other arts in previous years.
This paper maps the intersection of institutionalized architectural culture and identity politics in Flanders through the exhibitions Arquitectura de Flandes (Dubois, Barcelona, 1997) and Homeward: Contemporary Architecture from Flanders (Borret et al., six European cities and Venice Biennale, 1999-2000). They were each produced by an institutional forerunner of the VAi, and commissioned by the Flemish government to represent the region abroad. Regionalist politics lurk in the institutional 'paratexts' of the two exhibitions, but the documented architectural production and the curatorial discourse ignored or even confronted regionalist recuperation.
The first show presented a dozen architects, each with a few exemplary realizations, and architectural publications as proof of an architectural culture in Flanders. The catalogue rejects attempts to formulate a shared 'Flemish' architectural identity, while the cultural diplomatic context of this exhibition just highlights investments in cultural and political regionalism: a Flemish-Catalan cultural exchange agreement. Homeward, on the other hand, traverses Flanders as a fragmented North-West European territory, full of occasions for ever-changing contextual architecture. In doing so, it turns against an earlier view on autonomous architecture, and against some distinctly Flemish condition.},
  author       = {Liefooghe, Maarten},
  location     = {Providence (RI, US)},
  title        = {Exposing autonomous architecture and Flemish political autonomy},
  year         = {2019},
}