Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

Since the 1970s, Barbara Kasten (born 1936) has developed her expansive photographic practice through the lens of sculpture, painting, theater, textile and installation. Well known within photographic and contemporary art discourse, the Chicago-based artist has recently begun to be reconsidered within the broader context of architectural theory. This survey contextualizes Kasten’s investigations into how moving images and light play within and through architectural forms.

Alongside full-color plates, the book features a long-form interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, whose 2019 Chicago Marathon stage was designed by Kasten, as well as a number of essays: artist Irena Haiduk discusses Kasten’s collaborations with corporations such as Polaroid; curator Humberto Moro explores the relationship between Kasten’s constructions and midcentury architects from Mexico and Brazil; curator Mimi Zeiger examines the Bauhaus movement from a feminist lens; and editor Cristello recalls historical moments that provide a “stage” through which to consider Kasten’s formulations of space as cinema.

Edited with text by Stephanie Cristello. Text by Irena Haiduk, Humberto Moro, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Mimi Zeiger.

Two pioneering works of radical television from the mind of the iconoclastic architecture critic Reyner Banham.

The writings and thinking of Reyner Banham, born 100 years ago this year, came to define and create architectural culture. His hugely innovative and engaging analyses of architecture, the city, culture and its artefacts continue to mark generations.

Banham’s trademark formal and intellectual wit, invention and creative critique found a perfect home on TV. In tonight’s first episode he drives the streets of his beloved LA, aided by an Alexa-like technological tour guide. In the second, he departs from there for Las Vegas, finding his own personal jackpot in the desert landscapes on route.

The ScreenTalk is chaired by Professor Richard J Williams, author of Reyner Banham Revisited, with guests writer and journalist Owen Hatherley, architectural historian Adrian Forty and LA-based critic, editor and curator Mimi Zeiger.

In early March, just as case numbers and mask requirements were dropping, the New York Times editorial board published an opinion piece titled “Why New York Needs a Covid Memorial.” City and citizens, the op-ed argued, would be stronger if it could “confront its grief instead of trying to outrun it.” The authors were necessarily hazy about shape and size, style and site, but particular about the need for a place for people to gather and mourn.

In year three of the pandemic, the United States is just shy of a million COVID-related deaths. Global deaths are six times that number, with each data point representing an individual with a constellation of loved ones, friends, co-workers left behind. Clearly, there’s a need to honor the dead. But when and how? Read More …

We generally want to interpret contemporary art museums in good faith—not as mausoleums of wealth, but as open, accessible places, removed from the vicissitude of the market and designed to produce an experience, foster education, and nurture communion with art. The recently reopened Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) in La Jolla checks all those boxes, even adding a gentle Pacific breeze and the sound of crashing breakers. Yet the $105 million renovation and expansion gives off monied vibes, accommodating a mushrooming collection and driven by the ambitions of the museum board.

Low-slung on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and conservatively clad in travertine panels, the expanded Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building, by New York-based Selldorf Architects, greets visitors with a pavilion-like entry shaded by a massive Mission fig tree. Maybe it’s the glass and aluminum storefront facade, or the gift shop positioned to the right of the ticketing desk, but the details smack of high-end retail. The vibe: minimalist, tasteful, functional. In short, everything that Venturi Scott Brown and Associates’ (VSBA) weird, whimsically vaulted Postmodernist lobby is not.

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Peter Reyner Banham is one of the most relevant architectural and design critics of the 20th century. Join us to celebrate his 100th birthday on March 4 with a symposium, organised as a collaboration between the AA and The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, which will bring together multi-generational duets of scholars and practitioners engaging on themes key to the life and intellectual legacy of the English critic.

The symposium will precede two AA Visiting Schools held from June-July 2022 – “Farewell Reveries” (online) and “A Blighty Safari” (a road trip throughout the UK) – that will reflect on Banham’s passion for travel and field exploration.

Original image by Tim Street-Porter

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Santa Monica City Hall East deceives with its clean-cut appearance. Sleek and boxy, like a midcentury office building, it features a facade that’s tailored like a gray flannel suit. But the 50,200-square-foot companion to the city’s 1939 Art Deco City Hall is no paper pusher. Behind a bureaucratic exterior lurks a bohemian sensibility and a suite of high-performance green-building systems—including the old countercultural staple: composting toilets.
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Nearly a decade in the making, its opening pushed back by the pandemic, M+ finally greeted Hong Kong last week. The billboard-like façade of the 700,000-square-foot art museum, designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, lit up the budding skyline of the West Kowloon Cultural District with a wall of 5,664 LED tubes. Blue, red, and green from the institution’s logo made watery stripes in Victoria Harbor. Read More …

It’s difficult to think of a building renovation as a riposte. Acts of conservation are generally considered and well-mannered. Conservative by design. And while the newly refreshed Denver Art Museum illustrates such polite attributes, its updates by Machado Silvetti Associates and Fentress Architects are also a sly rebuttal to the Frederic C. Hamilton Building, Daniel Libeskind’s 2006 addition to the museum campus. After years of being thought of as difficult and inhospitable, Gio Ponti’s Lanny & Sharon Martin Building (formerly known as the North Building) is finally pushing back.

When it opened in 2006, Libeskind’s flashy architecture drew attention away from Ponti’s brooding 1971 edifice. Then, in the heady years of the Bilbao Effect’s gestural and populist expressions, the Italian architect’s design was deemed a citadel. Closed off from the city, a bit musty inside, it was branded a bastion of high art at a moment when museum directors, mayors, and developers preached openness.

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Genoese architect Renzo Piano would prefer it if you didn’t call the imperial sphere that his firm, Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW), realized for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures “the Death Star.” Indeed, the Star Warsreference is too on-the-nose for a bulbous structure meant to celebrate Hollywood history. Too self-referential even for an industry that loves a reboot. As if the architecture itself might break the fourth wall and mug for the camera, begging to be blown to smithereens in next year’s biggest blockbuster.

“Call it a dirigible, a zeppelin,” Renzo Piano said correctively to the press ensconced in the plush, red-carpet red, 1,000-seat Geffen Theater, snug in the belly of the monumental vessel (surround sound courtesy of Dolby). Better yet to refer to the 26-million-pound precast concrete, steel, and glass addition to the landmarked May Company building as he does: “a soap bubble.” Read More …