Katsumi Hayakawa, "Intersection," 2017. Courtesy of Courtesy of the artist and McClain Gallery.

Reading the City: Perspectives on the Contemporary Global Metropolis


Friday, October 14 - Saturday, October 15, 2022
Moody Center for the Arts + Anderson Hall, Rice School of Architecture
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October 14:  5:30–7 pm, keynote lecture by Walter Benn Michaels, Anderson Hall, Rice School of Architecture

October 15: 10 am–3 pm, symposium, Moody Center for the Arts, with a lunch break and followed by exhibition viewing and reception.

Organized by Scott Colman, Assistant Professor, Rice School of Architecture, and Frauke V. Josenhans, Curator, Moody Center for the Arts

The symposium Reading the City: Perspectives on the Contemporary Global Metropolis coincides with the group exhibition Urban Impressions: Experiencing the Global Contemporary Metropolis at the Moody Center for the Arts.

Presenting a wide-ranging selection of contemporary international artists, the exhibition illustrates how we see and experience the city, psychologically and physically, focusing on overarching aspects of urban life that affect its inhabitants. The arts play a key role in a global conversation about the effects urban agglomerations are having on the lives, bodies, and minds of individuals. With the selected works as an interpretive resource, the accompanying lecture and symposium will consider how “urban impressions” in the contemporary arts affect conceptions of our planetary "city."

The program opens with a keynote lecture by Walter Benn Michaels on architectural photography, the representation of the city and its urban life. In the symposium on the following day, scholars and practitioners of the visual arts, will reflect upon and discuss how the aesthetic perceptions and representations of artists, given the sensory complexity of contemporary experience, insightfully and provocatively transform our understanding of the city. The presentations will address concern for the sociopolitical, environmental, spatial, and material injustices of our local and global conditions and the way these injustices are made sensibly manifest in works of art, be they displayed in museums or constitute the contemporary urban world itself.


The 10/15 panel and presentation schedule is as follows, starting at 10 a.m.:

Frauke V. Josenhans, curator, Moody Center for the Arts

Gökçe Günel, Associate Professor in Anthropology, Director of Graduate Studies in Anthropology, Rice University

Tekena Koko, Principal Tekena Koko Office; 2021-2023 Emerging Scholar in Design Fellow, School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin

Fabiola López-Durán, Associate Professor of Art History, Modern and Contemporary Latin American Art and Architecture, Rice University and Giovanna M. Bassi Cendra, PhD Candidate




Sindhu Thirumalaisamy, Visual artist, Assistant Professor, Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts, Rice University

Walter Benn Michaels, Theorist of literature and the visual arts, Professor, Department of English, University of Illinois Chicago