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A Section of Now: Social Norms and Rituals as Sites for Architectural Intervention

Exhibition, Main Galleries, 2 November 2021 to 24 April 2022

Conceived as part of the one-year investigation Catching Up with Life, A Section of Now looks at today, at the society in which we currently live, with a focus upon expanding notions of family, property ownership, activism, work, technology, and life expectations. How can architecture and urbanism better understand our contemporary conditions, and how might they adapt to better address the challenges these conditions present?

While contemporary values are rapidly reshaping the built environment, architecture is not only responsive but can also, at its best, anticipate and even influence the direction of society through spatial endeavours. Adaptations of existing typologies and also new typologies are required for our current society where the nuclear family isn’t a societal bedrock; where robots become a mainstay of domestic life and caretaking; where friendship takes on new meanings; where birth and death can be planned and designed; where the youth is extremely committed to environmental and spatial justice; where we work more than ever, regardless of the increased automation of labour; where addictions are many and simultaneous; where it is possible to retire at thirty years old or to be already in substantial debt at the age of twenty, and where there is an obsession with sharing and yet more and more people choose to live alone.

Together these multivalent conditions have gradually displaced societal norms, leaving many interconnected questions - and design opportunities - in their wake. How might we create housing that better reflects the broad scope of contemporary living arrangements, from those living alone to those living with multiple generations under one roof? How might we implement alternative frameworks to mediate how property is owned and shared given rising rents and debt? How might our personal choices and collective actions create long-term social, political, and environmental change? How might we create equitable working conditions amidst demands for personal and technological optimization? How might we better manage the symptoms of technological addiction and withdrawal? How might we rethink our plans given ever-increasing life expectancy?

Through TV series, contemporary photography, architectural research, and designed objects, A Section of Now critically depicts where we are now and points to the urgent need for a new spatiality and the formation of new societal relationships.

Curator: Giovanna Borasi, CCA
Curatorial team: Francesco Garutti, Megan Marin, Hannah Strothmann, Ushma Thakrar
Research: Matthew de Santis, Iro Kalargyrou, and Laura Aparicio Llorente

Contributors: Aaron M. Cohen; Ai Hasegawa; Alice Proujansky; Anaïs Langlais-Schmidt; Anna Puigjaner; Arta Perezic and Cynthia Deng; Aubrey Wade; Benson Chien and Samantha Ingallina; Brittany M. Powell; Bryan Thomas; Certain Measures; Columbia University GSAPP DeathLAB; Common Accounts; Coop Himmelb(l)au; Dan Chen; Elena Dorfman; Elisabeth Ubbe; Ewa Nowak; Expanded Design; The Future Market; Hardy Wilson; HOME-OFFICE; Ilia Attarpour, Dadbeh Mohebbi Gilani, and Ramtin Taherian; Jamie Diamond; Jesse LeCavalier; Jonas Voigt, Philipp Schmitt, and Stephan Bogner; June 14; Kamila Rudnicka; Klemens Schillinger; Lucas Foglia; Marie-Claire Springham; Max Hampshire, Paul Kolling, and Paul Seidler; Michael Schmelling; Michelle Groskopf; Nadia Sablin; N H D M; Nick Waplington; OFFICE; Other Architects; Paul Graham; Pollard Thomas Edwards; reWork; Teple Misto; UNStudio; Williamson+Williamson; Yangying Ye; and more still to be announced.

Exhibition design: Sam Chermayeff Office, Berlin & New York
Graphic design: Folder Studio, Los Angeles
Photography consultant: Melissa Harris, New York
TV consultant: Andrea Bellavita, Milan

This exhibition is part of the CCA’s one-year investigation Catching Up with Life.

The CCA gratefully acknowledges the support of the ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage, and the Conseil des arts de Montréal.

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