Two exhibitions on architecture in the Middle East opened at BSA
Space this fall. The first, City of Mirages: Baghdad, 19521982, opened on Tuesday, October 2. The exhibit presents built and unbuilt work by 11 architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Josep Lluís Sert, Alvar and Aino Aalto, and Robert Venturi FAIA. Models of various scales of the built and unbuilt work by these and other architects are accompanied by a large-scale model of Baghdad.
The history of modern architecture in Baghdad is not well-known and remains relatively underexplored. Specialists in Iraq and in exile throughout the world have undertaken detailed analyses of the topic, but many of the studies have been difficult to access in Europe and the United States, and the destruction of war has made it impossible to recover the complete modernist record of Iraq. The exhibition describes an era in which Baghdad was a thriving, cosmopolitan city, and when an ambitious program of modernization led to proposals and built work by leading international architects. City of Mirages is a traveling exhibition previously featured at the Collegi dArquitectes de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, and at the Center for Architecture in New York City.
The 50s were a crucial epoch for Iraq to do large public cultural and sports projects, said City of Mirages curator Pedro Azara, who will attend the opening. This exhibition aims to show an unknown (in the West) part of the history of modern architecture and to offer an image of Baghdad, which was not shattered in the difficult years after the war and the invasion of the country.
Later this fall, the BSA will unveil Critical Exchange: Boston Architects in the Middle East, presenting the work of several contemporary Boston-based practices that have produced buildings and public environments in the Middle East. The projects featured in Critical Exchange are shaped by the approaches and agendas of international practice inflecting to local conditions. Curated by Mark Pasnik AIA, Chris Grimley and Michael Kubo of the design firm over,under, the exhibit examines the political and economic complexities, material cultures, climactic realities, construction practices and social traditions that affect contemporary firms working in the Middle East.
Our goal in presenting these concurrent exhibitions at BSA Space is to highlight the transformations that architecture makes around the globe, said BSA president Laura Wernick AIA. Bringing this exhibition to Boston after its U.S. debut at the Center for Architecture in New York is exciting, as many of the works exhibited included in large part are connected with Harvard University.