Panel Discussion Modest Homes

Benjamin Hirte © Benjamin Hirte

Wed, 01/17/2024

6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Goethe-Institut New York

A conversation between Jody Graf, Benjamin Hirte, and Pujan Karambeigi

On the occasion of the publication of Benjamin Hirte’s first monograph Modest Homes (Mousse, 2023), the Goethe-Institut New York is pleased to present a panel discussion exploring the complex relationship between artists, architecture, and public spaces.

The artist Benjamin Hirte will be in conversation with curator Jody Graf and art historian Pujan Karambeigi discussing key episodes such as modernist housing developments in the 1920s which sought to reimagine living spaces for the masses, urban interventions and guerrilla art actions in the 1960s-70s that challenged rules of public property, and the recent resurgence of iconoclasm that questions national symbols and histories displayed in municipal areas.

Through these examples the panelists examine the evolving and often contradictory roles artists have taken on as they engage with public spaces: as engineers and architects designing new models of habitation, reimagining the aesthetics of urban environments, as poets and writers articulating new visions for the city, as enlighteners seeking to educate and protest social issues through public art, and as activists directly intervening in spaces to claim them for communities.

The discussion will explore the scope and impact of these different artistic approaches, asking how and why one approach may be adopted over others for certain contexts and goals. It will also consider the challenges and opportunities artists currently face in utilizing or disrupting public spaces, and their capacity to meaningfully impact conflicts over how such spaces are defined and used.

Jody Graf is an Assistant Curator at MoMA PS1, where she recently organized the exhibitions Iiu Susiraja: A style called a dead fish (2023) and Life Between Buildings (2022). She has been part of the curatorial team for exhibitions including Greater New York (2021); Niki de Saint Phalle: Structures for Life (2021); Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration (2020); Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991-2011 (2019); and Sue Coe: Graphic Resistance (2018), among others. She additionally curated the 2021 Parsons MFA Thesis show, and has worked as an independent curator on numerous projects. Her writing has been featured in publications including Texte Zur Kunst, Frieze, Mousse, CURA, and The Exhibitionist. She received her BA from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU, and her MA from the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College. 

Pujan Karambeigi’s research focuses on the role of painting in the reforming of late colonial and early postcolonial art education policies. His research has been supported by the DAAD and the German National Merit Foundation. He was the Frieda B. and Milton F. Rosenthal Art History Fellow 2022/23 as well as the 2018/2019 Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Curatorial Fellow. He is an editorial contributor at Jacobin Magazine and his writing has been published by ARTMargins, Art in America, Artforum, Texte zur Kunst, Mousse Magazine, and Frieze, among others. Most recently, he co-curated the exhibition Revisiting the Potosí Principle: Histories of Art and Extraction at the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA).

Benjamin Hirte works in the fields of sculpture, text and organizes exhibitions. Hirte's work often addresses aspects of utility in public sculpture and design to explore semiotics within cultural history and the construction of public and private space. He has had solo and two person exhibitions at the MAK Center, Los Angeles; Layr, Vienna; Christian Andersen, Copenhagen; MMK - Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt; Museo Canonica, Rome; MAK - Museum of Applied Arts, Vienna. Hirte’s work has been included in group exhibitions at the Swiss Institute, New York; Leopold Museum, Vienna; KUB - Kunsthaus Bregenz; 21er Haus, Vienna and Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne.