To see cultural terrorism at work, you don’t have to trek to Afghanistan, where in 2001 the Taliban dynamited a magnificent and monumental Buddha carved in live rock. Within our own country, the legislators and chief executive in Orange County, New York, a bucolic county a couple of hours west of New York City, seem keen on rivaling the Taliban for barbarism by irreversibly damaging the comparably magnificent and monumental Orange County Government Center, by the American architectural master Paul Rudolph. On February 5, unless a majority of the legislators at a meeting override a veto by the county executive, Steven Neuhaus, the bulldozers will be out by spring to demolish a large section of the building to make room for a soulless replacement. Our collective cultural patrimony will be diminished. Neuhaus claims he is accommodating pressure from the courts to reopen courtrooms in the currently shuttered building. He is also ignoring history and the national interest.
In October 2014, our architecture critic, Joseph Giovannini, wrote about what he called La Comédie Architecturale. He now sends this update.
LAST JUNE, in his New York Review of Books article “The Insolence of Architecture,” the New York architecture critic Martin Filler wrote a scathing appraisal of the London architect Zaha Hadid — more about her character, really, than her work — making a serious factual error when he accused her of indifference to the deaths of nearly 1,000 workers on the construction site of her Al-Wakrah soccer stadium in Qatar. The accusation and consequent controversy went viral.
In fact, not one person had died on the site; construction hadn’t even started. She sued Filler and NYRB for defamation, even as sages of the profession opined the suit was a strategic error on her part, bringing more attention to the issue. Was she a petulant diva? Continue reading
In 2009, internationally acclaimed architectural photographer Peter Aaron visited Syria and during the course of several weeks recorded much of the country’s incomparable architectural and archaeological heritage. From Hellenistic and Roman ruins to Ottoman caravansarais, from medieval souks to Crusader castles, from early Christian pilgrimage sites to great Abbasid and Ummayad mosques, Aaron photographed a rich and remarkable array of sites, all still in use by local populations. Just months after his return to the U.S., the Syrian Civil War broke out. Since then, many of these magnificent structures, hundreds and even thousands of years old, have been severely damaged or destroyed.
From August 16 to September 7, fifty of Aaron’s most unforgettable Syrian images will be displayed at Art Space, 71 Palatine Road, Germantown New York. (Germantown is between Hudson and Rhinebeck.) Opening hours are Saturdays 11-5, Sundays 11-3. Opening reception Saturday, August 16 from 5-7.