Monday 05.08.19, 20:00
Spatial Fictions of Quarantine (Lectures)

Join the writer and creator of BLDGBLOG Geoff Manaugh and contributing writer for the New Yorker Nicola Twilley in a conversation about quarantine as a peculiar kind of human-exclusion zone 










english with simultaneous translation into Russian

This evening is part of The New Normal series of events at Strelka.

Quarantine is the use of space to separate one thing from another for the purpose of preventing infection. Travelers exposed to pandemic diseases are often placed in quarantine; spam emails can be quarantined; even rock samples returned from the moon have been held in quarantine since their arrival back on Earth. The need for quarantine has shaped international boundaries and led to the invention of new kinds of passports, documents segregating the healthy from the sick; indeed, the first thing a migrant or asylum seeker might be forced to do upon entering a new country is to undergo a period of quarantine, a time of interminable waiting and spatial closure. All of these examples imply zones of safety and danger, of purity and exposure, of free inhabitation vs. total control.

Quarantine is a medical tool as much as it is a political one; at the same time that it is a plot device driving blockbuster films, it is also an architectural challenge, shaping entire buildings and cities. In all these forms, quarantine lends itself unusually well to metaphor, suggesting economic, logistical, and even philosophical scenarios that rely on uncertainty and isolation to achieve their goals. Quarantine, by its very nature, implies mistrust and suspicion — but with a possibility of redemptive release. It is not eternal; all quarantines must eventually end.

This evening will be devoted to discussing quarantine as a peculiar kind of human-exclusion zone, including the diagnostic technologies, algorithmic modeling, and automated infrastructures that will determine its future.


Geoff Manaugh— writer and the author of A Burglar’s Guide to the City, on the relationship between crime and architecture, which was a New York Times-bestseller for two months, and, in 2016, was optioned for television by CBS Studios. In 2004 Manaugh launched a widely acclaimed BLDGBLOG (“building blog”). Because of BLDGBLOG, Wired named Manaugh one of “the 18 people who will tell you everything you need to know about design”. Manaugh regularly covers issues related to cities, design, crime, infrastructure, and technology for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, New Scientist, The Daily Beast, and many other publications. His short story “Ernest,” published by VICE in October 2017, is currently being adapted for film. Manaugh is former co-director of Studio-X NYC, an off-campus event space and urban futures think tank run by the architecture department at Columbia University. He has also been Editor-in-Chief of Gizmodo (2013-2014), a Contributing Editor at Wired UK (2009-2013), and Senior Editor of Dwell (2007-2009).

Nicola Twilley is co-host of the award-winning Gastropod podcast and a frequent contributor to The New Yorker. She is currently writing a book on the topic of refrigeration for Penguin Press. She is also co-authoring a book about the past, present, and future of quarantine with Geoff Manaugh for Farrar, Straus & Giroux. In her spare time, she makes smog meringues as part of an ongoing exploration of the taste of "aeroir" with the Center for Genomic Gastronomy.

Manaugh is and Twilley are currently working on a book about the history and future of quarantine.

This evening is part of a larger series of The New Normal public events at Strelka marking the end of the three-year research program and think-tank. Curated by program faculty, this series will investigate some of the core themes of the program, defining the new contemporary condition we call “the new normal”.

The lectures will be held in English, with simultaneous translation into Russian.

The event is organized with the support of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

For accreditation —