Empire.Style

May 26 to June 18, 2005

Curated by Peter Zellner

Featuring works by:

Joe Deal, John Divola, David Hatcher, Jones, Partners, Ruben Ochoa, Kelly Poe, Alex Slade, TaalmanKoch Architecture, Darren Wardle and Amir Zaki

Alex Slade, The Lake at the Colonies, Upland, CA, 2005, Chromogenic Print, 48x60"
Courtesy the artist


Can it still be said that the city is still a vital source of culture in North America? If culture is the condensation and expression of our collective concerns, is it now arguable that the city is no longer the only source of our shared imagination?

North American cities were once the hosts of liberal causes that promoted interaction, diversity and debate. Hardly sites of social mobilization, let alone inclusion, cities are now vastly overpriced, more demographically homogeneous and perhaps more culturally adrift than ever before. Efforts to re-kindle the cosmopolitan glamour of the City seem to be no match for the undertow that is carrying social energy to the suburbs.

Empire.Style posits the emergence of another type of cultural empire. That empire is suburbia- the overwhelmingly residential condition that seems poised to replace the city as a key economic and social engine in North America. Admirably, the rise of the suburban condition can be attributed to its resistance to Culture and its rejection of what cities have been promoting as Culture. Suburbia has no desire for more spectacular Guggenheims, MOMAs or Disney Concert Halls.

Despite their economic and social potential, suburban regions remain mundane and un-heroic. Suburbs exhibit none of the hallmarks of urbanity like spectacle, density and symbolic form. What new cultural styles, motifs or movements can exist in a place with no downtowns, central parks or walkable boulevards?

Empire.Style has invited 10 artists and architects to question if we are indeed witnessing the end of metropolitan life, or if it is possible to discover new sources of social and cultural vitality within emerging suburban areas. In a region that is already so detached from 20th Century metropolitan values, what kinds of culture will be produced? What will emanate from this other empire?




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