The work unveiled on May 4, 2018, is the winning entry in a juried competition, open to Yale art and architecture students, in conjunction with the course, 1968@50: Art, Architecture, and Cultures of Protest. It is on view for the first time on the library’s mezzanine through May 12.
The call for proposals noted:
The worldwide student unrests, which started in Paris during May 1968, culminated locally when Yale students summoned to protest the Vietnam War and the Black Panther trial around the Yale campus the following year. To commemorate these events, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, in collaboration with the Schools of Architecture and Art, announces a student competition: … The title of the competition, Lipstick Revisited pays homage to the installation of Claes Oldenburg’s Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks, which was instigated by a group of architecture students and installed on Beinecke Plaza as a speakers’ platform during anti-war protests in May 1969.
The competition was juried by the faculty for the course – Kevin Repp, Curator of Modern European Books & Manuscripts at the Beinecke Library; Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, Associate Professor of Architecture; and Craig, Buckley, Assistant Professor of History of Art – together with Deborah Berke, Dean of the School of Architecture, and Marta Kuzma, Dean of the School of Art.
The winning entry was chosen from a number of anonymous entries submitted by Yale art and architecture students in the competition, Lipstick Revisited, which called for an installation commemorating Claes Oldenburg’s Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks installation/happening which took place in May 1969 as a playful anti-war statement. The competition was conceived as part of a semester-long series of events that considered more broadly the role art and architecture played on the legacy of 1968 protests movement, which included a seminar, film-screenings, and lectures around New Haven.
The competition jury convened in January 2018 to assess the artistic merits as well as economic and technological feasibility of each entry. The jury chose the entry, In___We Trust, by two second-year students in the Yale School of Architecture.
It builds on the legacy of Oldenburg’s powerful gesture with new concerns around the state of higher education, the instability of facts, the conflicted status of monuments, and the role of money in our public institutions. Echoing the upright posture of Oldenburg’s Lipstick and its architectural surroundings, In___We Trust invites the University community to gather and reflect on the pivotal yet fragile nature of trust in our studies, our work, and our daily lives.
In 1968, Yale architecture student Stuart Wrede and a group of classmates taking the name of the Colossal Keepsake Corporation of Connecticut collaborated with Claes Oldenburg to create Lipstick (Ascending) On Caterpillar Tracks. Installed on May 15, 1969 in Beinecke Plaza, it provided a speakers’ platform during anti-Vietnam War protests.
As architects, we can feel ill-equipped to take an operative role in this political moment, realizing that our expertise is just as often used to reinforce systems of power as to question them. We are sensitive, however, to physical manifestations of power, to the imagery used to convey legitimacy, and to the need for spaces that accommodate protest.
Form may not be inherently political, but it is often applied toward political ends, and the architecture of a space may advance systems of power that are inconsistent with its ostensible functions. Questions of ownership over spaces of assembly are not abstract, and the right to occupy them cannot be taken for granted.
We hope that amidst such contests over space, the university prioritizes molding leaders who can take critical views of the institutions they value. Such a community is defined by MORE than just the spaces that house it.
We hope for this project, like the original keepsake, to take on a life of its own and to become an emblem as much as an artifact, a focus for discourse as much as a spatial marker.
We have many people to thank for lending time and expertise: Tim and Nate at the YSoA shop, Adam and Kyle, directors of the Yale Building Project, our classmates Ben, Chris, Abigail, Jacob, Liwei, Dhruvin, Anna Rose, Lani, and others for their ‘moral support’ and advocacy.
Thanks to the organizers of the competition and to the jury. Thank you to the University administration for showing a capacity for self-critique and a commitment to student-driven expression. Thank you to the Beinecke administration and staff for hosting the installation and this event. Finally, thank you Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen, Craig Buckley, and Kevin Repp for leading the seminar 1968@50, for helping us to interpret the legacies of ‘68, and for convincing us of our capacity and our responsibility to start a discussion.
Davis S. Butner ’19 ARCH
Evan Sale ’19 ARCH