The Architecture of Life Lectures

Thinking across the Arts and Design at Berkeley:

The Architecture of Life Public Talks: Spring 2016


Diller Scofidio + Renfro: Hand holding a model for BAMPFA, 2012; digital photograph. Courtesy and © Diller Scofidio + Renfro and the Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive.

In January of 2016 a new chapter in the story of arts and design at Berkeley begins with a new building: the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) will open its doors at a new location and will present the exhibition “Architecture of Life.” In partnership with BAMPFA, and in collaboration with the many scholars, artists, and departments across the UC Berkeley campus, a series of public talks will be offered in the spring associated with the Big Ideas course: Thinking Across the Arts and Design at Berkeley: The Architecture of Life. Topics of lectures will include close readings of essays and artworks, close viewings of buildings and objects, and close listening and engagement with music, dance and theater. Guest speakers from the worlds of architecture, music, photography, theatre, and dance will share their perspectives.

The course will be co-taught by Shannon Jackson, Associate Vice Chancellor for the Arts and Design, and Nicholas de Monchaux, Associate Professor of Architecture. This public lecture series uses the “Architecture of Life” exhibition at BAMPFA as springboard for a wide and broad investigation into a range of art works, objects, performances, and ideas that intersect with this resonant theme.

Wednesday lectures will include a variety of guest artists, curators, and scholar and will be open to the public from 12pm to 1:30pm. To engage more with each lecture, we encourage you to join the conversation at ARC Reads with the “Architecture of Life” Reader here. 

Exhibitions and Performance

January 27, 2016
Containers: Charles Renfro on the new BAMPFA building
First Congregational Church

After attending Rice University and Columbia, Charles Renfro joined the interdisciplinary architecture studio of Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio in 1997. He became a partner in 2004. The architecture studio, now called Diller Scofidio + Renfro, has presided over numerous influential projects, including the design of the High Line park and the redevelopment of Lincoln Center in New York. Their most recent projects include the Broad Museum and the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). Speaking about the new BAMPFA, Renfro says, “We’ve found a middle ground between making highly expressive architecture and also a highly respectful vessel for art.”


February 3, 2016
Soundscapes: Nicholas Mathew on Messiaen: Des Canyons aux Etoiles at Cal Performances, in dialogue with Shannon Jackson
BAMPFA Theater

Nicholas Mathew has been awarded degrees from Oxford University and Cornell University. Before joining the faculty at UC Berkeley, he returned to Oxford as a Junior Research Fellow in Music at Jesus College. His published work has focused on four issues: relationships between music and politics in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the place of music in political institutions, the role of music in public life, and the ways in which music constructs collective identity. Other topics of his research include political appropriation, subversion, musical trashiness, and political kitsch. Mathew will be discussing Olivier Messiaen’s “Des canyons aux étoiles…” (From the canyons to the stars…), a large twelve-movement orchestral work notable for its use of modern instrument techniques.

Shannon Jackson is the new Associate Vice Chancellor for the Arts and Design and a Professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. Her work focuses on relationships amongst performance, visual art, new media, and social change. Her publications include The Builders Association: Performance and Media in Contemporary Theater (2015); Valuing Labor in the Arts (a special issue of Art Practical); Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics (2011); Professing Performance (2004); and Lines of Activity (2000). Jackson serves on several boards — including BAMPFA, Cal Performances, and OMCA — and speaks and writes frequently for a variety of museums, theaters, biennials, festivals, and universities.


February 10, 2016
Exhibition: Lawrence Rinder on “The Architecture of Life” in dialogue with Shannon Jackson and Nicholas de Monchaux
BAMPFA Theater

Lawrence Rinder has been director of BAMPFA since 2008. His previous positions include Dean of California College of the Arts, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Curator of Contemporary Art at the Whitney Museum, founding director at CCA Wattis, and Assistant Director and Curator for Twentieth Century Art at BAMPFA. He received his B.A. in art from Reed College and an M.A. in art history from Hunter College. He has published poetry, fiction, and a script, co-authored with Kevin Killian, for a play. Mr. Rinder lectures widely and is a member of several boards and advisory committees, including The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Kelsey Street Press, Camerawork, and Headlands Center for the Arts, among others. He has held teaching positions at Columbia University, UC Berkeley, and Deep Springs College, CA.

February 17, 2016
Nicholas de Monchaux, “Architecture and Life”
BAMPFA Theater

Nicholas de Monchaux is an architect, urban designer, and theorist. He is the author of Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo (MIT Press, 2011), an architectural and urban history of the Apollo Spacesuit. This book was the winner of the Eugene Emme award from the American Astronautical Society and shortlisted for the Art Book Prize. The work of de Monchaux’s Oakland-based design practice has been exhibited at the 2010 Biennial of the Americas, the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, San Francisco’s SPUR, and SFMOMA. He received his B.A. with distinction in Architecture from Yale, and his Professional Degree (M.Arch.) from Princeton. Prior to his independent practice, he worked with Michael Hopkins & Partners in London, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro in New York.

February 24
Lively Sciences: Adam Nilsen on objects and narratives from the Hearst Museum of Anthropology
BAMPFA Theater
Adam Nilsen is the Head of Education and Interpretation at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford’s Graduate School of Education in 2015 in Learning Sciences and Technology Design. He holds a B.A. from Stanford and an M.A. from New York University in Anthropology. His professional background is in museum education. As a researcher at the Oakland Museum of California, he curated exhibits with themes including migrant labor history, LGBTQ history, and Californians’ recollections of the 1960s and 1970s. His research has focused on how people connect to stories of others through empathy and perspective taking.



Performance and Place

March 2
Action and Performance: The Yes Men on the Activism of Life
BAMPFA Theater

The Yes Men use any means necessary to agree their way into the fortified compounds of commerce, and then smuggle out the stories of their undercover escapades to provide a public glimpse at the behind-the-scenes world of big business. The Yes Men have impersonated the World Trade Organization, Dow Chemical Corporation, and Bush administration spokesmen on television and at business conferences around the world. They do this for two reasons: to demonstrate some of the mechanisms that keep bad people and ideas in power, and because it’s absurdly fun. Their main goal is to focus attention on the dangers of economic policies that place the rights of capital before the needs of people and the environment.


March 9
Place, Politics and Performance: Sean San Jose on Chavez Ravine at Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, in dialogue with Shannon Jackson and Nicholas de Monchaux
BAMPFA Theater

Sean San José is co-founder of Campo Santo, the award-winning resident theater company of San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts. Program Director of Theatre for Intersection for the Arts, San José has helped create and curate a new program called the Hybrid Project, formed to bring together artists of all genres, merging differing and emerging styles of performance in order to find a new performance language. He also conceived the theater project Pieces of the Quilt, a collection of short plays confronting the AIDS epidemic. San José organized and created the AIDS Service Arts organization Alma Delfina Group-Teatro Contra el SIDA, to distribute funds and present benefit performances. As Founding Director he has worked, commissioning these pieces and then presenting the plays in theatres, schools, libraries, clinics and community centers.


March 16
Life and Dance: Trajal Harrell on The Ghosts of Montpellier at Cal Performances in dialogue with Kate Mattingly and Megan Hoetger
BAMPFA Theater

Trajal Harrell’s work has been presented at many venues including The Kitchen, Danspace Project, The New Museum, Dance Theater Workshop, P.S. 122, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) Boston, The Margulies Art Warehouse (Miami), The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Art Basel Miami Beach, Dance Mission (San Francisco, CA), Cornell University’s Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts, Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX), Snug Harbor Cultural Center, and CUNY’s Martin Segal Theater and Proshansky Auditorium. His work has been presented internationally, in France, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Croatia, and Mexico.  Speaking about his choreography and performances, Harrell says, “I am most interested in how the imagination can re-think the ‘omissions’ of history. In this way, performance can be a way in which we collectively reimagine the impossibilities of history and thus make room for new possibilities in the world we make today.”

Kate Mattingly graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Architecture and received her master’s of fine arts degree in Dance from NYU where she performed works by William Forsythe and other choreographers. Her articles about dance have been published in the New York Times, Village Voice, Washington Post, Dance magazine, and Dance Research Journal. From 2006 to 2008 she lived in Austria where she worked as a dramaturg for the contemporary performance festival, Sommer Szene. She is currently a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley.

Megan Hoetger received her B.F.A. in Drawing and Painting and her B.A. Art History, M.A. Art History from the California State University, Long Beach. Hoetger’s work looks at performance after fascism in Central Europe. Her research interests include feminist and queer theories of sexuality and identity; experimental cinema, sexploitation, and pornography; vision and visuality; kinesthetic knowledge; collective memory and cultural amnesia; nationalism and national identity; trauma studies; and performance art exhibition histories.

Place and Nature

March 30
Lucia Jacobs on the Nature of Place in dialogue with Nicholas de Monchaux
BAMPFA Theater

Lucia Jacobs received her B.S. in Biology (Neurobiology & Behavior) from Cornell University. She completed her Ph.D in 1987 in the Department of Biology (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology) at Princeton University. She then moved to the Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, as a NATO Fellow and later as NIH NRSA fellow, and continued her training in psychology and neuroscience with further fellowships funded by NSF and NIMH at the Universities of Pittsburgh and Utah. She joined the Department of Psychology at Berkeley as an Assistant Professor in 1993, where she is now Professor of Psychology and a member of the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. She is broadly interested in understanding the mechanisms by which adaptive cognitive traits evolve from simpler building blocks.


April 6
Sou Fujimoto: “Architecture and the Future,” in dialogue with Nicholas de Monchaux
BAMPFA Theater

Sou Fujimoto is a Japanese architect. Born in Hokkaido in 1971, he graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1994, and established his own office, Sou Fujimoto Architects, in 2000. Noted for delicate light structures and permeable enclosures, Fujimoto designed several houses, and in 2013, was selected to design the temporary Serpentine Gallery pavilion in London. Selected works include Final Wooden House in Kumamoto, N House in Oita, House before House in Utsunomiya, and House K in Nishinomiya, Hyogo.


April 13
Animate Objects: Mel Chen and Julia Bryan-Wilson on Science, Art, and Language in the Architecture of Life
BAMPFA Theater

Mel Y. Chen is Associate Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies at U.C. Berkeley and an affiliate of the Center for Race and Gender, the Science and Technology Studies Center, and the Institute for Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences.Mel’s research and teaching interests include queer and gender theory, animal studies, critical race theory and Asian American studies, disability studies, science studies, and critical linguistics.

Associate Professor Julia Bryan-Wilson teaches modern and contemporary art, with a focus on art since 1960 in the US, Europe, and Latin America. A scholar and a critic, Bryan-Wilson has written articles that have appeared in Art Bulletin, Art Journal, Artforum, Bookforum, Cabinet, Camera Austria, Camera Obscura, differences, Frieze, Grey Room, October, the Journal of Modern Craft, and Oxford Art Journal. Her article “Invisible Products” received the 2013 Art Journal Award from the College Art Association. Before coming to UC Berkeley in fall 2011, she taught at RISD and UC Irvine. She was the Terra Foundation Visiting Professor of American Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art in Spring 2014, and from fall 2014 to spring 2015 she was a Townsend Center for the Humanities Associate Professor Fellow. Bryan-Wilson studies theories of artistic labor, feminist and queer theory, performance, craft histories, photography, video, visual culture of the nuclear age, and collaborative practices. She is an affiliate of the Art Practice Department, the Arts Research Center, the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory, and the Designated Emphasis in Gender, Women, and Sexuality.


April 20
Stillness and Movement: Bruce Beasley and Lisa Wymore on Dancing the Rondo series, in dialogue with Shannon Jackson
BAMPFA Theater

 Bruce Beasley attended Dartmouth College from 1957–59, and the University of California, Berkeley from 1959-62 where he earned his BA. Beasley ranks among the most productive sculptors of the post- Henry Moore/David Smith generation of abstract sculptors. His work can be found in the permanent collection of 30 art museums around the world, including: Museum of Modern Art in New York City; the Guggenheim Museum, New York City; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the National Art Museum of China in Beijing; the Musee National d’Art Moderne-Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, DC; the Kunsthalle Mannheim in Germany; and the Islamic Museum in Cairo.

Lisa Wymore received her graduate degree from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in Dance in 1998. She moved to Chicago and began her career as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She was a faculty member within the Northwestern University Dance Program from 2000 to 2004. Wymore is now an Associate Professor at the University of California Berkeley in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. She teaches classes in choreography, dance technique, pedagogy, improvisation, and performance.