Lecture
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
14:00 - FFB 06
Can Bilsel, Ph.D.


Despite the frequent use of authenticity in art and architecture and the ways it has altered the disciplinary practices of historic preservation and museology in the twentieth century, the treatment of the issue has been largely unproblematic, amounting at times to an unthinking affirmation. A series of international charters for historical preservation, The Conference of Athens (1931), The Charter of Venice (1964), and The Nara Document of Authenticity (1994), enshrined the quest for the authentic into a professional code of ethics, outlawing once and for all imaginative 'restorations'.

In this epilogue to his recent book, Bilsel examines the regimes that authorize or disallow the practices of displaying, preserving, and managing ruins. Questioning the recent histories of historic preservation in Europe, Bilsel asks why did the practice of producing authentic sites and monuments fare so successfully in modern contexts that did not share Europe's intellectual history and to whom the European concept of historical time was, presumably, foreign? This lecture seeks answers to these questions by invoking three registers—authoritative, bureaucratic and performative—through which architectural monuments had come to be seen as 'authentic' by 1930. 

Can Bilsel (A Short Biography) 

Can Bilsel is an architect and scholar specialized in modern architecture, museum displays and archaeological reconstructions. He received his Ph.D. in Architecture at Princeton University, a Master of Science degree from MIT, and a Bachelor of Architecture from Middle East Technical University. He joined the University of San Diego in 2002 where he is currently the Chair of the Department of Art, Architecture + Art History, and founding Director of the Architecture Program. 

Dr. Bilsel has written and lectured extensively about the appropriation, reconstruction and reception of the material culture of antiquity. Most recently, Bilsel is the author of Antiquity on Display: Regimes of the Authentic in Berlin's Pergamon Museum, published by Oxford University Press (2012). In this volume Bilsel examines the relationship between the history of German archaeology in the Middle East, and the reconstruction and display of the monuments of antiquity in the Berlin Museum. Bilsel is also the author of "Zeus in Exile: Archaeological Restitution as Politics of Memory," published by Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, and a long article titled "Our Anatolia: Organicism and the Making of the Humanist Culture in Turkey."