Summer Exhibitions on Campus Take Viewers on a Global Trip

May 27, 2016

On campus for the Summer Sessions? Several exhibitions illuminate Columbia's collections, bringing art, culture and history from around the world to Morningside Heights:

Cutaway: Drawing the Architectural Section

A cross-section of Artist Olafur Eliasson’s home from his 2006 book, Your House. Courtesy of Avery Library

Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library reveals the range and beauty of its collection in an exhibition focused on the “section”— a type of architectural drawing created by cutting a plane through a structure to evoke the interior spatial complexity of a building. By the early 16th century, architects had established conventions for depicting the most important aspects of buildings, such as elevations, plans and sections. Although these continue to the present day, computer-aided drafting and three-dimensional modeling programs have altered the architect’s relationship to drawing.

The works on display range from a section of the Villa La Rotonda, located just outside Vicenza, Italy and perhaps the most famous building by renowned Venetian architect Andrea Palladio, to artist Olafur Eliasson’s 2006 Your House, a “book” in which each of the 454 hand-bound leaves represents a vertical cross-section of his house in Copenhagen. Eliasson uses the laser-cut leaves to play with solids and voids, making viewers feel as if they’re looking at a dollhouse. The exhibition is on view in the Avery Classics Reading Room through June 17.

Imagining the World: Unexplored Global Collections at Columbia

A circa 2008 political poster for the Pakistan People’s Party. Courtesy of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library presents a selection from Columbia’s vast Global Studies collections. The items on view date from 1454 to 2014, in a variety of formats, including books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, posters, scrolls, sheet music, stamps, typescripts and scores of languages from Arabic to Ukrainian, English to Wolof and more.

Featured are such objects as a manuscript by Tomas Torquemada, the first Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition, which was published after his death in 1576 and gathers his instructions on interrogative procedures, as well as a circa 2008 political poster for the Pakistan People’s Party, which shows Benazir Bhutto and her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, both former prime minister of Pakistan, and both labeled as martyrs on the poster. The exhibition is on view in RBML’s Chang Octagon Room through June 24.

A Body in Fukushima

Photo by William Johnston

In 2014, William Johnston, professor of History, East Asian Studies and Science in Society at Wesleyan University, and dancer-choreographer Eiko Otake traveled to Fukushima, Japan, where Johnston photographed Eiko as she performed in the deserted area around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. Those photographs comprise this exhibition on display in the C. V. Starr East Asian Library.

After an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, the radiation released from the damaged plant required the immediate evacuation of all inhabitants from the surrounding area. Although some places are now open for short daytime visits, most former residents are still living as refugees far from their homes and businesses, as the central zone around the nuclear plant will remain uninhabitable for decades. Johnston’s haunting photographs of Eiko on empty train tracks, seawalls and in abandoned structures evoke the devastation wrought by the nuclear disaster. The exhibition is on view in the Starr library’s main reading room through June 30.

Revisiting the Art of Inequality

Photo by Ilaria Ortensi

Photographs of 125th Street in Manhattan, just north of Columbia’s Morningside Heights campus, are on display in the Italian Academy. Emily Kloppenburg and Ilaria Ortensi, current and former MFA students at the School of the Arts, took the images for the book, The Art of Inequality, Housing and Real Estate, A Provisional Report, which is a collaboration between Columbia’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture and the visual arts program at the School of the Arts.

The photos and the book were produced in conjunction with the ongoing research project and exhibition series at the Buell Center, House Housing: An Untimely History of Architecture and Real Estate. The exhibition is on view in the Italian Academy through June 30.

—By Eve Glasberg