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Rearview into <em>Mirror in the Mirror</em> 
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Rearview into Mirror in the Mirror 

with Kengo Kuma and Erieta Attali

February 9, 2024
Talks+ past event

Mirror in the Mirror, the most recent collaborative book between architect Kengo Kuma and photographer Erieta Attali, was born from the authors’ shared desire to transcend the limits of architecture and imagery and enhance the sensorial experience of the featured spaces. Attali’s photographs capture the interconnectedness of the built space with nature central to Kuma’s design practice where architecture reaches out into its surrounding environment, bringing nature back into its interiors. Meticulously crafted by designers Koma Amok for Hartmann Books, Mirror in the Mirror is a narrative depicting atmospheric moments and thresholds of transition, in an unfolding interplay of light and texture.

In this talk event moderated by Prof. Seng Kuan, Lecturer in Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Kuma and Attali, accompanied by book contributor Prof. Barry Bergdoll, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University, will discuss the broader significance of this publication within the realms of architecture and photography. Followed by a book sale and signing reception.

Kengo Kuma is a renowned architect, professor, and critic, recognized for his international impact on contemporary architecture. After completing his architectural education at the University of Tokyo, he founded his own design studio, Kengo Kuma & Associates, in 1990. Throughout his career, he has maintained a presence in academia, teaching at various universities in Japan and in the and in the US. 

Kuma’s design philosophy focuses on creating architecture that seamlessly blends with its immediate cultural and environmental contexts, utilizing local and natural materials. His principles are outlined in notable publications such as Makeru Kenchiku (Architecture of Defeat, Iwanami Shoten), Shizen na Kenchiku (Natural Architecture, Iwanami Shinsho). Kuma has received prestigious awards, including the Architectural Institute of Japan Award, the Spirit of Nature Wood Architecture Award, and the International Stone Architecture Award. In 2021, TIME magazine recognized him as one of the 100 most influential people of the year. With projects in over 40 countries worldwide, Kengo Kuma remains dedicated to enhancing the connection between people and nature through design.

Erieta Attali, an accomplished architecture and fine art landscape photographer, has a vast portfolio spanning Eurasia to Australia and the Americas. Over three decades, she has focused on the interplay between architecture and landscape, pioneering a unique approach where content and context are inverted in the images she takes. Her photography explores how extreme conditions and challenging terrains cause humanity to reorient and recenter itself through architectural responses. Drawing on her background in archaeology and fine art photography, her unconventional method contributes to her distinctive photographic style.

Previously, Attali taught photography at GSAPP, Columbia University (2003-2018), and at the National University in Singapore. Today, she holds an artist-in-residence position at Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Fondation Hellénique, CIUP, Paris., thanks to which she conducts a photographic project, “Linear Transformations | Following the Seine,”. Moreover, she is also conducting research on the Ancient Island of Delos.

Attali is not only the author of several photography books but has also earned prestigious awards and scholarships. Her work has been exhibited in significant museums worldwide. Notably, she has been photographing the works of architect Kengo Kuma since 2002.

Barry Bergdoll is Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University, where he has been on the faculty since 1985.  A specialist in the history of modern architecture, he served from 2007 to 2014 as Chief Curator of Architecture & Design at the Museum of Modern Art (NY).  He curated there, among other exhibitions  Mies In Berlin (2001), Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity (2009-2010), Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront (2009-10), Henri Labrouste: Structure brought to Light (2013), Latin America in Construction : Architecture 1955-1980 (2015) and Frank Lloyd Wright at 150 : Unpacking the Archive (2017).  He organized exhibitions at the Musée d’Orsay and the Caisse des Monuments Historiques in Paris, the Centre Canadien d’Architecture in Montréal, and the Banamax Foundation in Mexico City.   He is the author of the widely used textbook European Architecture: 1750-1890 in the Oxford History of Art (2000) and monographs on Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Mies van der Rohe, Léon Vaudoyer, and (as editor) Marcel Breuer: Building Global Institutions (2017).  He has written frequently on the relationship of architecture and photography.  He is at work on a volume on the history of exhibiting architecture, derived from the Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 2013.

Seng Kuan is an architectural historian. He is project associate professor at the University of Tokyo, where he directs the International Architectural Education Platform, and lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He has written extensively on Japan’s postwar architectural culture, with major publications on Tange Kenzō and Shinohara Kazuo, two of postwar Japan’s most influential architects. Seng is also a member of the Planning and Management Committee of TOTO Gallery MA in Tokyo and previously served as chief editorial advisor to a+u.  

Images: © Hartmann Books; Kengo Kuma © J.C. Carbonne; Erieta Attali © Paris Tavitian; Barry Bergdoll © Erieta Attali; Seng Kuan © Angela Pang.

Japan Society programs are made possible by leadership support from Booth Ferris Foundation and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. Additional support for cultural programs is provided by an anonymous donor and the Sandy Heck Lecture Fund.

  • Friday, February 9, 2024
  • 6:30 pm
  • In-Person Event
  • Reserved Tickets
  • $22 Nonmembers
  • $17 Members
  • $17 Seniors/Students
  • $17 Person with Disability

This event is sold out. We regret to inform there will be no waitlist for this event.