Modern architecture, with the émigré architect as its messenger, sought to create a world in which buildings were material media performing acts of global transmission and dissemination. A protagonist ‘on the move’, a homeless modernist, challenges the very essence of place-bound nationalist politics. Consequently, historians of modernism are challenged to narrate and follow the trajectories of migration, trying to piece together routes as artifacts keep on popping up in unexpected places. This presentation looks at the migration of ideas through different means and media: writings, architectural drawings, photographs, films, artifacts, building materials and buildings themselves, but also their protagonists – authors, owners and inhabitants. In a series of archival close-ups this presentation will present research on collaborators of Adolf Loos, who had worked and studied with him in Vienna and Prague, and who in the 1930s, brought his design principles to Palestine. This research does not only add to an already well-established scholarship about Adolf Loos, but tries to make a series of methodological and theoretical points about threads and traces that pose the most potent questions for the architectural historian as she traces the complex experience of modernity through exile.
This lecture argues that historiography is entrapped by the aftermath by political ideologies and attempts to think through alternatives to the current rise of nationalist conservative tendencies on the political stage.