Exhibition: Form-of-Life

The conference “Early Modern Privacy: Notions, Spaces, Implications” at The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters in April 2019 was combined with a two-part-exhibition displaying student works.

The works dealt with privacy in different ways and were all produced in relation to courses taught at the Institute of Architecture and Design, KADK (The Royal Danish academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation), which is one of the institutional partners in Centre for Privacy Studies.

The idea behind the exhibition was to let visual artifacts supplement the well-known conference format. New knowledge within research is achieved not only through the written and spoken words but also through research-by-design which is an established practice in teaching and research at KADK.

The first part of the exhibition consisted of three models that sprang from an assignment about aspects of privacy in temporary accommodation, such as hotels, student housings and asylums, taking its outset in a building culture specific of Amsterdam, namely the canal house, both its early modern form as well as its contemporary interpretation. The students worked with a set frame in a scale of 1:10, they were free to choose the material inside the frame, and they were asked to focus specifically on architectural thresholds and connections in order to investigate how privacy can be conceived and negotiated.

The other part of the exhibition was called Form-of-life – Privacy in the layman’s studiolo and presented seven installations produced in relation to a workshop focused on the design and production of ceramic, plaster, concrete, textile, and glass elements. These elements were meant to build a dialogue with The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters’ mission, the production and dissemination of knowledge and the architecture of the Academy building. The studiolo could be considered as the emergence of privacy within domestic architecture in a crystallization of courtly and monastic traditions. The students were asked to transfer the iconographic formula of St. Jerome sitting in his studiolo, as represented in various Renaissance paintings, into a new setting, thereby reflecting implications of privacy in architectural contexts.

These are all student works. They are not historical exhibitions, rather history employed as a vehicle for rethinking present relations to privacy. At the conference the exhibition provided a point of focus and the objects catalyzed discussion between conference participants.