Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

For the launch of the publication of InfraNet Lab/Lateral Office’s Pamphlet Architecture 30+, Coupling: Infrastructural Opportunism, Storefront staged Manifesto Series 02: Infrastructural Opportunism.

Many thanks to Mason, Lola, and Eva for inviting me to participate.

The awesome infrastructural lineup was:
MIMI ZEIGER on manifestos
INTERBORO on exclusion
DIANA BALMORI on realignments
JASON VIGNERI-BEANE on stripping down
ANDREW BLUM on tubes
JOYCE HWANG on interventions
MAMMOTH on expanding fields Read More …


Sounds of the inner spaces rushing forward.

Then a splinter of blue light in the center of the picture.
It breaks wide, showing the top and bottom a silhouetted curtain of razor sharp teeth suggesting that we are inside of a tremendous gullet, looking out at the onrushing under-sea world at night. HEAR a symphony of underwater sounds:
landslide, metabolic sounds, the rare and secret noises that certain undersea species share with each other. Read More …

Chalk it up to the rise of social media in the late 2000s or to the collective actions instigated by the Occupy Movement, but social practice has emerged (or rather, re-emerged) in recent years as a dominant mode of production across multiple disciplines. Social Club explores the role of “social practice” in art, architecture, and urbanism. It features speakers whose work relies on a dialogue with the public sphere. Members of this Social Club are artists, writers, curators, and architects who use both strategies and tactics, including community collaborations, publishing, urban interventions, social media, and grassroots activism. Their work is critical and catalytic, reframing the conventions and expectations of practice.

Guest Curator:
Mimi Zeiger

Liz Glynn, artist
Leonardo Bravo, artist/curator, Big City Forum
Rosten Woo, writer/curator, Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP)
Iker Gil, architect, MAS Context
Pedro Gadanho, Curator for Contemporary Architecture, MoMA
Richard Saxton, artist, M12

The day before the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale opened to the public, Wolf D. Prix, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU’s resident avant-gardist issued a statement to the press. Rebuking the curators for banality in the face of crisis, Prix’s missive evokes a colourful vision of architects packed into a sinking gondola, a metaphor for the discipline’s “powerlessness and irrelevance.” And his prickling has a target. “Politicians and project managers, investors and bureaucrats have been deciding on our built environment for a long time now,” he writes. “Not the architects.” Meanwhile, deep in the Biennale, Public Works: Architecture by Civil Servants, OMA’s contribution to Common Ground, counters the Austrian’s lament.

Public Works celebrates the bureaucrat. Read More …

In recent years, there has been a nascent movement of designers acting on their own initiative to solve problematic urban situations, creating new opportunities and amenities for the public. Provisional, improvisational, guerrilla, unsolicited, tactical, temporary, informal, DIY, unplanned, participatory, opensource—these are just a few of the words that have been used to describe this growing body of work.

Spontaneous Interventions frames an archive of compelling, actionable strategies, ranging from urban farms to guerrilla bike lanes, temporary architecture to poster campaigns, urban navigation apps to crowdsourced city planning. These efforts cut across boundaries, addressing architecture, landscape, infrastructure, and the digital universe, and run the gamut from symbolic to practical, physical to virtual, whimsical to serious. But they share an optimistic willingness to venture outside conventional practice and to deploy fresh tactics to make cities more sustainable, accessible, and inclusive.

Awarded Special Mention for National Participation.

Commissioner and Curator: Cathy Lang Ho
Co-curators: David van der Leer and Ned Cramer
Curatorial Advisors: Paola Antonelli, Anne Guiney, Zoe Ryan, Michael Sorkin and Erik Adigard
Project managers: Gordon Douglas and Mimi Zeiger
Design: Freecell, M-A-D, and Interboro Partners

“[T]he show may not be the first but it is the latest and one of the most panoramic surveys of this sort of insurgent, unplanned, provisional, do-it-yourself micro-cultural citizen activism.

That many of the projects here skirt authority and don’t involve architects suggests not that architects aren’t important or that cities don’t depend on top-down plans. It suggests that cities and architects still have a ways to go to catch up with an increasingly restless public’s appetite for better design and better living.

And that the public isn’t waiting.”—Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times

In late January 2011, as Egyptian protesters filled Tahrir Square in Cairo, the activist website IndyMedia.com published exemplary pages from How to Protest Intelligently. Available as a PDF ready to print, the 26-page illustrated pamphlet, published in Arabic and English, clearly spelled out the Egyptian people’s demands and the actions and supplies needed to resist state forces. Read More …

If there’s a common question to be answered by the dozens of projects collected in Spontaneous Interventions, it might be: “What is the role of a local project in a global age?” The individual projects represented—pop-up parks, community agriculture, ad-hoc street furniture, guerrilla bike lanes—are not necessarily overt as they position themselves against the effects of global capital. However, taken as a group, these interventions run counter to the unchecked boom-and-bust development of what David Harvey and others critically describe as the neoliberal city. Small-scale and socially engaged, spontaneous interventions use design to enrich public space and foster civic life at a time when the disparity between daily life and the governmental and corporate mechanisms shaping cities is at an all-time high. Read More …

I heard Anthony Vidler lecture twice this past spring — once in Boston and once in Los Angeles. The subject matter varied as a much as the venue: the East Coast lecture a trip through Vidler’s own intellectual history and at SCI-Arc a jaunty tribute to Big Jim, made tart with a couple well-placed jabs at Shumacheresque parametricism. Yet, in both of Vidler’s lectures the same slide appeared, Richard Hamilton’s collage Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? that appeared as the poster for the Independent Group’s This is Tomorrow exhibition in 1956.

Vidler outted the collage fragment depicting Earth that looms above at the top of the composition, noting that it was torn from a 1955 issue of Life. As this view of the world entered into mainstream public consciousness via the most popular magazine on the planet it carried with it the tension between rampant consumerism and the Cold War. Entitled a 100 Mile Portrait of Earth, the composite photograph was made from stills taken by an aerial movie camera attached to a rocket. At the time, no other color photo had ever been taken from such a high vantage point.

This popularization and implied democratization of a once-privileged view mixes with a Cold War chill in the exhibition Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974 at MOCA’s The Geffen Contemporary in Los Angeles. This broad, historical retrospective brings together a generation of artists working under threat of nuclear annihilation, the space race, who possessed an expansionist drive to push outside of the gallery and into the unknowns of landscape. Read More …

Following the debate “Communication and Bottom-UP. The importance of the way stories are being told.” we [at dpr-barcelona] are committed to expand the debates and conversations avoiding them to get lost after a few days of the event. That’s why we’re publishing this digital-pamphlet [kindle + ePub] exploring the thought and ideas of thinkers and doers; articulated by simple detonating questions posed through emails, tweets and conversations intending to communicate effectively the very essence of the debate: “the importance of telling stories.” Read More …

Unfinished Business: 25 Years of Discourse in Los Angeles is a major retrospective of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design.

The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design has been at the center of the city’s architectural discourse since 1987. Through each decade – the scrappy 1980s, the experimental 1990s, and the booming 2000s – the Forum has vigorously interrogated the culture of architecture and urban design in Los Angeles. Although geographically positioned on the far edge of the continent, the organization nonetheless impacts the discipline at large: Forum events and programming routinely introduce emerging talent; issues of contemporary design are captured in its exhibitions; and its publications and competitions speculate on urbanism and often challenge the conventions of what architecture means in L.A. The retrospective Unfinished Business unpacks the organization’s archive, revisiting a history of commentary and debate. In looking backward, the exhibition finds within the Forum’s history the architectural questions, urban design conversation starters, and critical loose ends that are just as relevant now as they were over the past quarter century. Unfinished Business doesn’t come to any fixed conclusion, but opens up a rich and potentially provocative dialogue.

Curators: Siobahn Burke, Thurman Grant, and Mimi Zeiger

“Now L.A. is still the place that Craig Hodgetts described in one of the original publications, reprinted in the current pamphlet: “The grids open vistas, frame trivialities and frame inconsistencies–of thoughtless breadth and pragmatic anticipation which has bred, albeit carelessly, the culture of cruising, hatchbacks and convenience corners, which exemplify the present vision of the future city.”

It is true that hybrids have replaced hatchbacks, and that taco trucks, rather than malls, are the new emblems of melting pot. It is also true that L.A. is becoming a place with a mass transit system and even bike plans. But, as the area around the forum event showed, it is also a vital, sleazy, fun, and terrifying mess. There is indeed a great deal of unfinished business for the Forum, and I look forward to seeing what they accomplish in the next 25.”—Aaron Betsky, Architect