Re-Construction

MoMA will open a major black architecture exhibition this fall

Olalekan Jeyifous. …other seasonal occupancy neighborhoods. 2020. (Courtesy of Olalekan Jeyifous/The Museum of Modern Art, New York)

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)’s new curatorial strategy looks to move beyond the Western canon into histories and territories that have been overlooked, underrepresented, or downright ignored. The museum describes this new approach and their new, Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed galleries, as offering “a deeper experience of art through all mediums and by artists from more diverse geographies and backgrounds than ever before…recognizing that there is no single or complete history of modern and contemporary art.”

One of the more exciting shows in the MoMA’s upcoming fall season will center black architects and the ways that architecture has configured sensibilities around blackness in the U.S.

MoMA associate curator Sean Anderson, Columbia GSAPP professor Mabel O. Wilson, and MoMA curatorial assistant Arièle Dionne-Krosnick are organizing Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America, opening October 17. The show is described by the team as “an investigation into the intersections of architecture, Blackness and anti–Black racism in the American context.” How can we understand contemporary architecture through a lens of systemic racism and the violent, discriminatory histories it has fostered in the United States?

moma drawing

Germane Barnes. Miami Porch Portrayals. 2020. Digital print collage, 17 x 17″ (43.2 x 43.2 cm). Image courtesy of the artist. (The Museum of Modern Art, New York)

This exhibition will be the fourth iteration of the ‘Issues in Contemporary Architecture’ series, which began in 2010 with Rising Currents: Projects for NY’s Waterfront (March 24 through October 11, 2010), followed by Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream (February 15 through August 13, 2012) and Uneven Growth: Tactical Urbanisms for Expanding Megacities (November 22, 2014, through May 25, 2015).

Reconstructions will feature a series of ten newly commissioned works that will, according to the MoMA “explore how people have mobilized Black cultural spaces, forms, and practices as sites of imagination, liberation, resistance, and refusal.” Engaging with public policy, city planning, and architecture, these projects will respond to narratives and conditions found in Atlanta, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, Oakland, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Syracuse through consideration of the impacts on African-American and African diaspora communities. The exhibition will include the work of black architects, designers, and artists such as: Emanuel Admassu, Germane Barnes, Sekou Cooke, J. Yolande Daniels, Felecia Davis, Mario Gooden, Walter Hood, Olalekan Jeyifous, V. Mitch McEwen, and Amanda Williams.

As with previous exhibitions in the series, community workshops and panel discussions will be held that will inform the works on view from each contributor. April workshops in New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles will engage students from local architecture schools who will collaborate on a set of public forums and workshops with the curatorial team and the 10 architects, designers, and artists. A “field guide” publication will feature newly commissioned photographs from artist David Hartt and the book will be designed by Brooklyn-based Morcos Key.

Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America will be on view from October 17, 2020, through January 18, 2021.

Related Stories