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Thresholds, Issue 43: Scandalous


Editors: Nathan Friedman + Ann Lui

Gasp! What provokes this reflex that leaves one short of breath? More than just a sudden turn of events, for discourse to move from gossip to scandal there have to be stakes. Reputations, profits, and history-by-the-winners are on the line.

In 1939, architect George W. Stoddard understood these stakes well when writing his apology to the AIA Board of Directors. “There are times in every man’s life when he does things on the spur of the moment that he later regrets,” Stoddard implored after flouting a professional ban on advertising. The popular newspaper tabloid from following decades trafficked in one form of scandal surrounding the crime of regrettable deeds: originating in the private sphere and then splashed in the public one. These stories trade in schadenfreude while simultaneously performing in the interest of public good.

Stoddard’s delinquent act barely raises the contemporary pulse. Today, shocking headlines proliferate. If scandal shapes and reflects the historical moment, what does this de-sensitization say about our current condition? Many artists and architects operate fully conscious of an anaesthetized public. Thresholds 43: Scandalous investigates the relevance of scandal in creative practice. Its content confronts a history of devious schemes, spectacular headlines, and pulp fictions by engaging them in critical conversation.

Scandal is the red flag of every cultural movement. Sin segues into standards. Take Corbusier’s Plan Voisin and subsequent tower in the park offshoots, or Mapplethorpe’s The Perfect Moment that opened a new era of artistic provocations concerning public funding and censorship. Thresholds 43 complicates and provokes the idea of ‘scandal’ through scholarly discourse and inherently scandalous content.

Cristina Parreño Alonso, Nisa Ari, Austin+Mergold, Jordan Carver, Beatriz Colomina, Jackson Davidow, Sebastiano Fabbrini, fala atelier, Didier Faustino, Peter Galison, Kristen Gaylord, Hans van Houwelingen, Andrés Jaque, Mark Jarzombek, Ang Li, John May, Ruvimbo Moyo, AnnMarie Perl, Doris Sommer, NADAAA, Urbonas Studio, Nora Wendl

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