Regionalism at certain points in history has seemed like a liberatory notion. For Ken Frampton, author of Modern Architecture: A Critical History, for instance, a “critical regionalism” offered a way of resisting the international style and (boring) corporate culture it represented. But based on my most recent trip to the Ft. Hamilton Parkway stop on the F line in Brooklyn, I couldn’t help but feel that the notion of the regional is under threat. A series of posters all seem to both invoke local identity and suggest the ways that it destabilized. As far as I can tell the dis-ease has dual aspects. On the one hand, local legend of disaster can re-emerge or be re-evoked for the thrill. On the other hand, current conditions of globalization offer a kind of nostalgia for the regional that is something that can be exploited. The sad part is that the local ends up getting exploited coming and going, while real localities find themselves under a double threat, one from the global capital which mines profit, and the other from the media which play a game of exploiting the name recognition of the local as a place under threat, but stay well away from making links to the perpetrators of the crime.

Lets start on the West Coast…


This film is billed as an “action-adventure disaster” pic.  It offers a modern riff on the 1906 earthquake disaster.  The plot features a couple going to a quake-destroyed SF to rescue their daughter.  Naturally, most of it is shot in Brisbane, the one in Australia.

Next we move slightly south…  Here the comedy plays out:  Four white guys and one south asian get rich by playing it stupid.  Their job is reassuring us that the glaring inequalities (the lack of women, blacks, latinos and everyone else in the picture is not an accident) that come along with the new technologies coming out of Cupertino are just a joke.


The third poster on the wall I came across was from the East Coast.  The Whitney is moving.  These days the neurotic angst of midcentury alienation can be revisited as something cute.  For us, we wish we had problems so small, and an art so resistant to the savage destruction of human compassion. Instead we get a museum that can turn its collection into pastiche in the interests of boosting land values along the High Line.


Regional Discontent at the Ft Hamilton Parkway Stop | 2015 | Uncategorized