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Circuits and Subterfuge: Emily Wardill and the Body Imaginary

Emily Wardill, Ben, 2006, 16mm film, 10min. Courtesy the artist
Melissa Gronlund sees in Emily Wardill’s adaption of melodrama an investigation of the regulation of bodies, desire and modes of knowing. At a symposium honouring Venturi Scott Brown & Associate’s contribution to architecture, Robert Venturi delivered his lecture in the form of a slide show, of things ‘we love’. After a short introduction, the bulk of the presentation was simply things (or, more precisely, images and names of things) loved by him and his partner Denise Scott Brown, which the audience laughed at and with appreciatively, both in solidarity with what was being celebrated (sauerkraut! Las Vegas!) and for the switch into a non-analytic mode of expression in the midst of exalted proceedings. This emphasis on things (or on images of things) and the straightforward listing of them is not a new idea, but for Venturi and Scott Brown, two of the founders of Postmodernism in architecture, to do this carried different valences — positive ones — versus earlier attempts in the genre, such as Georges Perec’s satire of consumerism, The Things: A Story of the 1960s. The novel, published in France in 1965, ends with its protagonists, an upwardly mobile Parisian couple, fleeing to Tunisia to escape all their possessions, and still being unhappy.