Oslo Phantasmagoria on Lost Playgrounds: Form og Farve, 1924

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In this chapter in the 2014 Architecture Yearbook (Pax), Mathilde Simonsen Dahl discusses Carl Wille Schnitler’s involment in the public debate on architecture. Schnitler (1879–1926), a professor in art history at the University of Oslo, published the article “Arkitekturkritikk” in the recently launched journal Byggekunst. Lamenting the absence of an informed public discourse on architecture. Stating that architecture was the leading art form by its sense for balance, constructive and organic correlations, Schnitler appealed to the architects to engage in the public debate, to open the eyes of the public for the arts. In this chapter on the 1924 Form og Farve exhibition arranged by Schnitler, Dahl argues that the display must be understood on the background of the ambitions posed in the article on architectural criticism. The intention was, according to Schnitler, to display Helhetsvirkningen – The affect of totality, exhibiting “Romkunst” guided by an architectonic instinct. While the show was to give the impression of a single “organizational intent”, the organizers could not possibly have found a more contested site: The former Kristiania Tivoli garden (demolished in 1936), distinguished by its dubious reputation, was encircled by a squalid housing district in the Vika harbour area that was on the verge of demolition. In a site-specific reading of the diverse displays of interiors, Dahl considers the Tivoli – as both urban scenery, theatre and cinema – to be of highest importance of how the show shaped and answered the ambition to inform public discourse on architecture.

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