Visiting Scholar Seminar: Spyros Papapetros

Malicious Houses: Animation and Animosity in German Architecture and Film - From Mies to Murnau
Seminar, 11 July 2003

Visiting Scholar Spyros Papapetros presents his research.

From spiritualist societies to the juvenile animated art of cinematography, the spatial environments of early twentieth-century Europe were inhabited by omnipotent spirits. Artifacts, buildings and whole cities were imputed with the psychic agency, which metropolitan subjects refused to bestow upon themselves. This collective identity crisis spread to the sector of cultural existence, which was supposed to be immovable and solid, that is architecture. One of the main consequences of the modernist movement –one that has been largely ignored by architectural historiography– is the major but implicit offense against the primordial elements of “eternity” and “stability” that architectural monuments allegedly incorporate. Once venerated, the vernacular and historicist buildings of the previous centuries became culturally despised, anxious for their destiny and bitter about their contemptible role before the progress of modernization. As a result, the old houses came back to life, menacingly seeking revenge for the injustice that had been done to them. This is the turning point where the jolly animation and airy animism of dreams and fairy-tales turns into the dark animosity that foments the actions of an entire era and reanimates the archaic fury motivating what we call modernism.

Spyros Papapetros, Ph.D. University of California at Berkeley, AAGradDipl Histories and Theories, Architectural Association School of Architecture London, Diploma Architect, National Technical University of Athens. Spyros Papapetros completed an interdisciplinary doctoral program in the Theory and Historiography of Art and Architecture in the departments of Architecture, Art History, History, Rhetoric, German and Film Studies at the University of California, Berkeley in September 2001. Prior to his arrival at the CCA, he was a J. Paul Getty fellow associated with the Warburg and the Courtauld Institutes in London. In the Fall of 2003, he will join the faculty of the department of Architecture at Princeton University.

Spyros Papapetros was a Visiting Scholar at the CCA in 2002-2003.


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