Paper Beats Rock: The Imperial Institute’s Media

History of Art & Architecture Guest Lecture Series:

Zeynep Çelik Alexander, Associate Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, will present "Paper Beats Rock: The Imperial Institute's Media." Merely six months after its pompous opening in 1893, the Imperial Institute in London was called a “white elephant” by the press. The giant complex had been constructed to help fulfill the British empire’s ambitions for “systematic colonization.” It was designed as a vast “database” that facilitated trade by collecting, storing, and disseminating information about colonial products. Yet, despite the ambitiousness of its architecture, its galleries remained empty, and its mission was soon deemed unrealizable. This talk tries to make sense of this “failure” by considering the building as the last instance of a nineteenth-century project of spatializing information in space. The “paper” of print and film, it turns out, would beat the “rock” of architecture in structuring and circulating information in the twentieth century.

When 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Tuesday, October 10, 2023
Building College of Arts & Sciences, 725 Commonwealth Ave
Room 211
Contact Name Morgan Snoap
Contact Email
Contact Organization History of Art & Architecture, Guest Lecture Series
Fees Free
Speakers Zeynep Çelik Alexander