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LOBBY No.6 ‘1961’

OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

Deadline: 12 April

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LOBBY No.6 ‘1961’

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At the beginning of his presidency, JFK foresaw a future of great possibilities and unprecedented challenges: the 60s were to be a decade ‘of hope and fear’, as well as ‘of knowledge and ignorance’. Kennedy began his US Presidency in January 1961, just a few months before Yuri Gagarin became the first man to go into space. At the time, mankind seemed to stand as one, stretching its domestic boundaries beyond this planet, raising concerns about the state of our homeland, while consequentially promoting modern questions and impending concerns on ecology, evidenced by the birth of the World Wildlife Fund that same year.


Simultaneously however, destruction and segregation seemed to reach an all-time high. In August 1961, an 87 mile-long structure, made of barb wire and concrete blocks, appeared in Central Europe. The Berlin Wall, one the most politically, symbolically and socially charged pieces of architecture ever built, emerged, almost out of thin air, challenging those very notions of cosmic equality and planetary unity. Throughout the globe, critical awareness towards the built environment was raised in 1961 by some immortal bestsellers: Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Gordon Cullen’s The Concise Townscape, Lewis Mumford’s The City in History, Archigram’s first pamphlet Archigram I. While these classics were to become progressive cornerstones of a literary lineage on urban critique, on 30 October, off the northern coast of Russia, a 40 mile-high mushroom cloud raised from the sea. It was the Tsar Bomba, the largest nuclear test and the biggest human-made explosion ever detonated. Mankind’s destructive impulses seemed to have peaked alongside their constructive curiosities on that eventful, confusing and contradictory 1961.


When we take a closer look at the year, the exceptional dichotomies foreseen by JFK seem to be more than just rhetoric: not only knowledge and ignorance, but also construction and destruction; the self and the other; unity and division. Interestingly, the reversed symmetry of the 19 and 61 appear to be reflecting these same antinomies in aesthetic form. Can looking back on 1961 give us a better understanding of the seemingly unique ambiguities of today? After all, 1961 was the beginning of a decade that ultimately reshaped much of our Western world, if not our whole planet: from the Vietnam War to Middle Eastern Crises, from the Cold War to the African Decolonisation.


Can looking back on 1961 help shed light on our cities and societies today? What likenesses exist between mankind extending itself outside of Earth and mankind projecting itself into cyberspace, creating new economies, territories and modes of being? What parallelisms exist between our appropriation of technologies in 1961 and today? How did 1961 contest and shape current notions of ethics, progress and conformity? How has our present political conscience absorbed the promises and misbeliefs conceived during those twelve months? What has happened over the past five decades to the architectural frontier raised at the dawn of the 1960s—made of iron curtains and concrete walls, radical pamphlets and nuclear rubbles?


LOBBY No. 6 ‘1961’ wants to use these 365 days as a trigger—a switch that we, 56 years later, can still turn to call into question the state of our realities. Rather than lobbying for nostalgic technologies to travel back in time, we will approach ‘1961’ as a window to look ahead, an opportunity to move forward in time. In this sixth issue, we want to explore the forgotten, understated and latent peculiarities of that year, as well as the historic turning points that moulded our understanding of the environment, of urbanism, space and humanity—and the inextricable link between them all.

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*We highly encourage submissions from our vast and varied international audience in the form of essays, articles, designs, architecture, photographs, illustrations, drawings, sculptures, installations, poems and other relevant mediums.
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*All entries must be emailed to submissions[AT]bartlettlobby[DOT]com no later than 12 April 2017, along with our submission form, which can be downloaded here. Any questions should be directed to info[AT]bartlettlobby[DOT]com.

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PURCHASE LOBBY No.5 here.