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11.03.14 - 11.30.14 | SCI-Arc Library Gallery
Opening reception: Monday, Nov 3, 7pm
IDEA Office: Thinking the Future of Auschwitz
Mon, Nov 3, 7pm
SCI-Arc Library Gallery

Exhibition discussion with SCI-Arc Director Eric Owen Moss and Architect Russell Thomsen; reception to follow.

Aerial view of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp

Thinking the Future of Auschwitz is an architectural proposal for the future of the Nazi concentration camps in Poland. While the original concentration camp and Polish State Museum at Auschwitz maintain their status as a narrated, didactic experience, this proposal transforms the extermination camp at Auschwitz- Birkenau into a Tel Olam. Originally cited in Deuteronomy, a Tel Olam marks a place of unspeakable evil, blotting out and rendering it inaccessible. Translated as a perpetual heap--in contemporary terms, a machinic field--it produces a traumatic figure, steadfastly delimiting a perimeter.

Proper to its unutterable status, Birkenau becomes perpetually indeterminate, generating a probing, hermeneutic experience without immediate answers, withholding solace and defying convenient philosophical closure. While the project is unique to Auschwitz, it tests architecture's own particular agency in the twenty-first century and contributes significantly to an expanded discourse on the conventions of catastrophe.

Architects Eric Kahn and Russell Thomsen founded IDEA (formerly COA) in 1987 in Los Angeles. The office works on a wide array of projects that include building, installations, writing, and speculative architectural proposals dealing with the relationship between architecture and culture. Both have served as senior design studio faculty at SCI-Arc. The partners have lectured at major universities and institutions around the world. They are recipients of both the Young Architects Award and the Emerging Voices Award sponsored by the Architectural League of New York. The Y-House in Tokyo received a first award from Architect Magazine in 2009 for the 'Best in American Architecture.' The work of the office has been exhibited and published in the US, Europe and Japan, and is held in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Eric Kahn passed away in June of this year.