Elke Krasny Lecture

28 August 2019


Sindh Flood Rehabilitation

Yasmeen Lari/Heritage Foundation of Pakistan: Sindh Flood Rehabilitation, Sindh Region, Pakistan, since 2010.
© Heritage Foundation of Pakistan

Critical Care. Architecture and Urbanism for a Broken Planet

A public lecture by Elke Krasny, Professor for Art and Education, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

In medical terms critical care, also known as intensive care, is a specialized branch of medicine dedicated to diagnosing and treating life-threatening conditions. For this lecture, this term is borrowed to address the planet’s life-threatening condition. Throughout the twenty-first century the condition of the planet has made headlines. The news is not good. The diagnosis is bleak. We have come to understand that the Anthropocene-Capitalocene is straining the planet to its breaking point. The planet we live on and we live with is exhausted, drained, depleted, damaged, broken. Therefore, the planet is urgently in need of critical care to repair livability and inhabitability and to restore its condition for its continued existence in the future.

Architecture and urbanism are at the heart of the modern project of capitalism. Modernist aspirations in architecture were based on the powerful promise of building a better future. Today, we live in the ruins of this promise. This lecture asks in what ways architecture and urbanism starting from the given interdependence of economy, ecology, and labor, can contribute to such critical care taking, acknowledging that there is no promise of a better future, but much rather a process of permanent repair. Following Joan Tronto’s political notion of care as everything we do to maintain and repair ourselves and our environment, the chosen examples in architecture and urbanism provide evidence that through a perspective of care social and environmental justice are not mutually exclusive.

Elke Krasny
is Professor for Art and Education at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. She is a cultural theorist, urban researcher, and curator. Her scholarship and her curatorial work focus on critical practices in architecture, urbanism, and contemporary art addressing the interconnectedness of ecology, economy, labor, memory, and feminisms. Together with colleagues Lara Perry and Dorothee Richter she has convened an international series of symposia on feminist curating since 2016. She was Visiting Curator at the Hong Kong Community Museum Project in 2011 and Visiting Scholar at the Canadian Centre for Achitecture in Montréal in 2012. Her 2011 curatorial project Mapping the Everyday: Neighborhood Claims for the Future with the Downtown Eastside Women Centre and the Audain Gallery Vancouver addressed women’s, housing and indigenous rights and resistance against poverty and sexual violence. Her exhibition Hands-on Urbanism. The Right to Green presented a global perspective on histories of informal urbanization through the lens of urban farming and gardening with its subsistence economies and was shown at the 2012 Venice Biennale of Architecture. Her exhibition Suzanne Lacy’s International Dinner Party in Feminist Curatorial Thought was shown at the University of the Arts Zurich in 2015 and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm in 2016 .

Professor Krasny is the author and editor of numerous books and essays. Edited volumes include Critical Care. Architecture and Urbanism for a Broken Planet with Angelika Fitz (MIT Press, 2019), In Reserve! The Household with Regina Bittner (Spector Books, 2016), and Curating in Feminist Thought (2016), a special issue of the journal OnCurating edited together with Lara Perry and Dorothee Richter.