Othering Displayed: Racialized Spacemaking of German Exhibitions
German Colonial Exhibition, Berlin 1896: Replica of the Facade of a Residential House in "German New Guinea" as Exhibition Entrance Source: Deutschland und seine Kolonien im Jahre 1896. Amtlicher Bericht über die erste deutsche Kolonial-Ausstellung, ed. by Arbeitsausschuss der Deutschen Kolonial-Ausstellung, Berlin 1897, p. 14.
6:00 pm (c.t.)
Goethe University Frankfurt, Campus Westend, Hörsaalzentrum, HZ 8


Othering Displayed: Racialized Spacemaking of German Exhibitions

Regine Hess

World and national exhibitions have been a phenomenon of modernity since the end of the 18th century, not only in France and Great Britain, but also in the German countries. The exhibition of the products of national and imperial industries represent not only the economic and social order at that time, but even more the self-conception of the organizing states. This motivation increasingly shaped the great exhibitions in the course of the 19th century and differentiated their architectural programmes. In this process, patterns of spatial formation can be discerned that both ‘exhibited’ imperialism and colonialism and developed national narratives. This becomes evident not only in exhibition palaces, villages, nation pavilions, multifunctional prefabricated buildings, and their arrangement on the site, but also in the actors: people from many parts of the world worked at large exhibitions and were assigned, sometimes forcibly, to those spaces they were supposed to represent. The lecture examines the making of space in large exhibitions and its architectural shaping in the perspective of the ‘own’ and the ‘other’. It attempts to show racism and its traces in the history of exhibitions as part of the history of architecture.

Regine Hess is Senior Researcher at the Chair of Construction Heritage and Preservation at ETH Zurich. Her research interests are architecture history and theory from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, exhibition and museum studies, and heritage and preservation. She is the author or co-editor of Emotionen am Werk (2013), Geschichte und Gegenwart der Kunsthalle Karlsruhe (2014), Paul Schneider-Esleben: Architekt (2015), Architektur und Akteure (2017), Staatsbauschule München (2022), and two special issues of kritische berichte: Housing Regimes (2020) and Rassismus in der Architektur / Racism in Architecture (2021).

The event is part of the lecture series Designed Orders. The lecture will take place on the Westend Campus of Goethe University Frankfurt (HZ 8) and will be held in English.