There seems to be an endless appetite for the rehashing of 1960s and ’70s radicalism. This is especially true as a younger generation of creative producers and thinkers aggressively seek (and repeatedly flounder in their—our—search for) a contemporary parallel zeitgeist. Without fail, this search leads back to the aforementioned decades, ones that seem to be bound to sustained nostalgia. It is within this nostalgia that Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196X to 197X (Actar)— part exhibition catalog, part research compendium, and part archive—dwells.
The book is the summation of a collective research project begun in 2006 by architectural historian Beatriz Colomina and a group of Princeton University PhD students, and delves into a historical moment in which a radical print-based practice swelled within the architectural field.
The traveling archive—which first appeared in 2007 at Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York and most recently at Bureau Europa/Netherlands Architecture Institute Maastricht—has had seven public exhibitions, all of which have played host to a crucial element of the project, Little Magazines/Small Talks. This was made up of a series of panel discussions between both active and defunct editorial boards (October, Oppositions, Archigram, etc.), and other international editors and critics. It is in this section—unlike in the rest of the book—that the participants are able to engage with the ideas of the 1960s and ’70s without the blinders that nostalgia so often provides, and in doing so provide the only critical space within Clip/Stamp/Fold. The probing dialogue of Little Magazines/Small Talks is less concerned with the preciousness of the material and more engaged with questioning form, content, and what constitutes sustainable editorial practice. This is particularly true in the talk between Rosalind Krauss, Yve-Alain Bois, Hal Foster, and Colomina—perhaps because, unlike many other participants, these editors continue to maintain a critical editorial practice. In it, Foster challenges Colomina with his concern surrounding “premature historicization.” He is wary in that “the field is still open in many ways and we have to be careful about how we historicize the near past.” While not in direct dialogue, Foster’s concern is later pessimistically countered by Peter Eisenman, who, rather than necessarily upholding a nostalgic point of view, has a painfully bleak outlook, saying, “We were reacting against what was the avant-garde. We were the transgressors of what they had put in place. But how do you transgress the transgressors? There isn’t much room.”
Much of the publication leaves the reader at this sort of standstill, unsure of how this historical moment can help lead, rather than stuntingly challenge. However, the book provides plenty of delectable fodder for the nostalgia-ridden reader: eleven rare facsimiles of publications, 125 descriptions and reproduced cover images of pivotal magazine issues, and seemingly endless interviews. A wonderful reference material, the book is editorially analytical and attune, yet lacks the critical edge so fundamental to the material that it houses.