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Fragments of utopia: collage reflections of heroic modernism

David Wild

A set of collages made from mainly contemporary sources, which recount episodes in modernist architecture in the twentieth century. This is a story of a fragile and occasionally noble dream, in the context of a history going violently wrong. These images are supplemented by short parallel prose meditations. Wild’s images have a wonderful rightness of form. But they are far from idealized: politically charged, they have a disconcerting sense of erotics and low humour.

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Jazzpaths: an American photomemento

David Wild

David Wild’s ‘photomemento’ tells an Englishman’s story lived to a soundtrack of jazz. At its heart are photographs made during a two-year stay in America in the mid-1960s, on a passage through New York, Chicago, Detroit, St Louis, New Orleans. These pictures, in turn, formed the basis of photomontages. Jazzpaths is a partial document of the jazz scene of that time, mixing remarkable pictures of musicians with biting images of life on the streets.

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Wild in the USA (2)


David Wild is making a rare return to academic life this autumn, as visiting professor in the architecture department at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville). On 5 November he will give a lecture there on the themes of the book. And before this, on 29 October, he will talk at Columbia University, New York.



David Wild was invited to make a collage for the cover (front and back) of the 100th issue of the magazine Architecture Today (July 1999). His brief was to show 18 of the building projects featured in the preceding 99 issues of the magazine: readers were then invited to identify the buildings. The result is more of a patchwork image than he usually makes; but the piece is held together by a dream-like connecting thread. Inside the magazine, Wild is among the people asked in a symposium ‘where in the world would you choose to go back to?’ His answer: the Norris Dam, Tennessee, USA, remembering his trip there last year.

Fragments of utopia


Choosing it as his the book of the year, the poet and editor Alan Ross wrote: ‘this is an exhilarating book of photo-montages, mainly on the subject of architecture, but with dazzling juxtaposed images using postcards, stamps, pin-ups, aeroplanes, sailors and footballers.’ This was in the refreshingly straightforward magazine The Oldie (something like the old Punch): maybe an appropriate forum in the year of David Wild’s sixtieth birthday.

Wild in the USA


Following the publication of his book, David Wild has been invited to deliver a plenary lecture at a conference on ‘Modern architecture: an incomplete project’, at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA, 9–11 October 1998.

Cypher House, London N7


This building, designed by David Wild, is now very near to completion: it provides an artist’s studio and connecting top-lit rooms arranged in an interlocking L-shaped configuration.

‘Subterranean modernism’

Robin Kinross / 2010.07.01

Idea magazine is pleasantly print-fixed: none of the words it publishes are put online, so anyone wanting a taste of it simply has to go out and find a copy. The current issue, no. 341, has an article that refers to Hyphen Press and its efforts. This essay, ‘Subterranean modernism’ by Randy Nakamura and Ian Lynam, is perhaps the first published piece by unconnected observers to address ideas that we’ve been busy with for now 30 years. This is very pleasing.1 Read more

‘Jazzpaths’ exhibition

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An exhibition of photographs and photomontages by David Wild opens this week at the Beardsmore Gallery in Kentish Town, London, and runs until 10 December. Publication of Jazzpaths, his ‘American photomemento’, which includes all these images and much more, is set for 1 December. Read more

A note on the collages

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David Wild / 2011.12.20

David Wild recently wrote a brief note on the history of the collages that he has been making over 35 years. We give it here, with the examples to which he refers. Read more

Remembering Robin Fior

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Robin Kinross / 2012.11.20

Robin Fior died on 29 September, in hospital at Mafra, outside Lisbon. This is not an obituary (his friend Richard Hollis has written a good one), but merely a set of memories of someone I knew, off and on, over twenty or so years. He was part of a certain network of designers in Britain, whose work has provided a main impetus for Hyphen Press. Read more

David Wild speaks

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This video of David Wild talking at the Architectural Association in London in 1998, to launch his book Fragments of utopia, has emerged on YouTube.

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