This May, the Chicago Architecture Biennial announced this year’s participants for the upcoming ...and other such stories biennial. Architects, designers, and artists from all over the world will participate in projects that engage with land, memory, rights, and civic participation. “For this year’s Chicago Architecture Biennial, the curatorial focus brings to light architectural stories that are often overshadowed by more familiar narratives,” said executive director Todd Palmer. “The Chicago contributors' works for 2019 draw from their ongoing engagement with local communities working towards a more equitable architectural landscape in this city.” Here is what we know so far about Chicago-based participants featured in the upcoming biennial: Artist and University of Chicago professor Theaster Gates will center his project around the vacant buildings he has purchased in Chicago and the complexities of land ownership. When Gates originally purchased the buildings, there was a severe lack of interest in those areas due to violence and disinvestment from the city. He plans to create found poetry from the legal land documents between himself, the banks, and the city—what he claims are the pieces that no one sees but are intrinsically personal to him. Gates said, “I want to talk about my love of space, and how a commitment to contracts will ultimately create new opportunities for emerging artists and affordable housing.” Artist Maria Gaspar will exhibit an interactive installation reflecting her artistic practice both inside and outside the Cook County Jail, located in her childhood neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. “It will be interesting for me to see how my own spatial research engages with the broader field of architecture and how borders impact communities,” said Gaspar. Artist Santiago X is partnering with the American Indian Center of Chicago and Chicago Public Art Group to produce a large-scale installation that will express a vision to construct indigenous future-scapes. “Participating in this year's Chicago Architecture Biennial is an incredible opportunity for me to contribute to the revitalization of indigenous landscapes throughout Chicago,” said the artist. Design practice Borderless Studio will examine social infrastructure in the context of unprecedented public-school closures in 2013. The studio’s Creative Grounds initiative offers a framework for how art, design, and architecture can create a more inclusive process for repurposing closed schools. Artists Iker Gil and the Luftwerk duo of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero will splash the Farnsworth House in lasers. The Chicago Architecture Biennial ...and other such stories will run from September 19, 2019, to January 5, 2020. Altogether, there will be more than 40 participating organizations and sites citywide. For the full list of contributors, see here.
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All eyes will be on Plano, Illinois, the small town nearly 60 miles west of the city that’s home to the Miesian masterpiece Farnsworth House, for the upcoming Chicago Architecture Biennial. Artists Iker Gil and Luftwerk duo, Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero, are teaming up to shed new light on the pioneering international style house, lining its underlying geometries with beams of neon laser light. The laser installation, Geometry of Light, will be open to the public from October 11th to 13th for an evening walk-through like no other. Fitted out for a tech- and social media-savvy audience, the neon-saturated installation is sure to bring attention to the Fox River site, as the home will become the next in a series of architectural icons to get the Luftwerk treatment. In 2011, the collective brought a prototype of Geometry of Light to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater for its 75th anniversary. That installation was named INsite, and the artists collaborated with video designer Liviu Pasare and composer Owen Clayton Condon to create an audiovisual study of the house. INsite focused on outlining the building's geometric components and the experience of moving through the lines of the space. An INsite-style study was also conducted independently for the Farnsworth house in 2014. However, the latest iteration of Luftwerk’s fluorescent vision debuted this past February as Geometry of Light was applied to another famous Mies project, the Barcelona Pavilion. Both the Pavilion and the Farnsworth House, with their open, overtly modernist massings, appear to be viewed through an x-ray after Luftwerk's illumination, exposing the bones of the building from a fresh new perspective. The 2019 Farnsworth exhibit will also be enhanced by sound, as a “minimalist” soundtrack will be pumped through the home in sync with the visuals. The installation is a notable part of a wave of recent publicity for the Farnsworth House, as effort mounts to attract attention towards its preservation. Situated on the Fox River floodplain, the property of the modernist monument has been inundated by water several times since 2013, and a debate has erupted amongst preservationists and the home’s current owner over whether to protect the house or to take more drastic measures: relocation. Even though the house sits on stilts, the swampy site presents structural dangers and the stilts may not prove high enough as the flooding is predicted to worsen. “Such are the choices in an era when disastrous '100-year floods' seem to occur every few years,” a spokesperson for The National Trust for Historic Preservation, who have owned and operated the structure since 2003, told the Chicago Tribune. The group even suggested the installation of hydraulic jacks programmed to physically elevate the base of the house when floodwaters rise. Though the Mies-designed home is about an hour-and-a-half drive from the Chicago Biennial's core, Luftwerk’s eye-catching installation is sure to saturate the social media airwaves come this fall.
The 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, titled ...and other such stories, will present work that explores architecture as it relates to social, political, and environmental issues. Curators Yesomi Umolu, Sepake Angiama, and Paulo Tavares have invited more than 80 architects, artists, researchers, and activists from around the world to converge on the shores of Lake Michigan, where their multidisciplinary collaborations will show the public how design can transform lives. The curators want collaboration and dialogue to be at the center of this year’s event, which gives contributors the opportunity to “expand [their] inquiries by connecting practices to each other and to visitors during the biennial’s run,” said Umolu. The planned collaborative projects include local firm Borderless Studio working with the Istanbul-based Herkes İçin Mimarlık (Architecture For All), studioBASAR of Bucharest, and Berlin’s Zorka Wollny to develop inclusive strategies for repurposing civic spaces on the site of the historic Anthony Overton Elementary School, and Keleketla! Library of Johannesburg which, working with Chicago’s Stockyard Institute, will be creating a space to discuss the importance of heritage sites and public housing at the site of the National Public Housing Museum. The Chicago Architecture Biennial was founded in 2015 to bring the global architectural vanguard to a city celebrated for its legacy of architectural innovation, and to give the public an opportunity to engage with architecture in new ways. It’s a lot like the Venice Architecture Biennale, but instead of a drinking Prosecco in an impossible city built on marshy ground, attendees drink Goose Island 312 in an inevitable city built on railroads and stockyards (or so I’m told—I’ve never been). The inaugural event, The State of the Art of Architecture, was curated by Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda who challenged contributors to take on pressing cultural issues, and 2017’s MAKE NEW HISTORY, curated by Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, which highlighted various modes of production from book to burg. This year’s event, …and other such stories, runs from September 19, 2019, through January 5, 2020. It is free and open to the public across all citywide locations. Without any further ado, here are your contributors to the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial:
Exhibition ContributorsAdrian Blackwell (born in Toronto, Canada; lives in Toronto, Canada) Akinbode Akinbiyi (born in Oxford, England-UK; lives in Berlin, Germany) Alejandra Celedon (born in Edmonton, Canada; lives in Santiago, Chile) & Nicolas Stutzin (born in Santiago, Chile; lives in Santiago, Chile) Alexandra Pirici (born in Bucharest, Romania; lives in Bucharest, Romania) Avijit Mukul Kishore (born in Lucknow, India; lives in Mumbai, India) & Rohan Shivkumar (born in Hyderabad, India; lives in Mumbai, India) Black Quantum Futurism (founded in Philadelphia, USA) Borderless Studio (founded in Chicago, USA) CAMP (founded in Mumbai, India) Carolina Caycedo (born in London, England–UK; lives in Los Angeles, USA) Center for Spatial Research (founded in New York, USA) Chicago Architectural Preservation Archive (founded in Chicago, USA) Clemens von Wedemeyer (born in Göttingen, Germany; lives in Berlin, Germany) Cohabitation Strategies (founded in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and New York, USA) & Urban Front (founded in New York, USA) ConstructLab (founded in Berlin, Germany) DAAR (Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti) (founded in Beit Sahour, Palestine) Detroit Planning Department (founded in Detroit, USA) Do Ho Suh (born in Seoul, South Korea; lives in London, England–UK) FICA–Fundo Imobiliário Comunitário para Aluguel (founded in São Paulo, Brazil) Forensic Architecture (founded in London, England–UK) & Invisible Institute (founded in Chicago, USA) Herkes İçin Mimarlık (Architecture For All) (founded in Istanbul, Turkey) Jimmy Robert (born in Guadeloupe–France; lives in Berlin, Germany) Joar Nango (born in Áltá/AltaÁltá, Sápmi/Northern Norway; lives in Romssa /Tromsø, Norway) Jorge González (born in San Juan, Puerto Rico; lives in Puerto Rico) Keleketla! Library (founded in Johannesburg, South Africa), in collaboration with Stockyard Institute (founded in Chicago, USA) Maria Gaspar (born in Chicago, USA; lives in Chicago, USA) MASS Design Group (founded in Boston and Poughkeepsie, USA, and Kigali, Rwanda) MSTC (founded in São Paulo, Brazil), in collaboration with Escola da Cidade (founded in São Paulo, Brazil) and O Grupo Inteiro (founded in São Paulo, Brazil) Ola Hassanain (born in Khartoum, Sudan; lives in Khartoum, Sudan and Utrecht, Netherlands) Oscar Tuazon (born in Seattle, USA; lives in Los Angeles, USA) Palestine Heirloom Seed Library Project (founded in the northern West Bank, Palestine) Raumlabor (founded in Berlin, Germany) RIWAQ - Center for Architectural Conservation (founded in Ramallah, Palestine) RMA Architects (founded in Mumbai, India and Boston, USA) Sammy Baloji (born in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo; lives in Brussels, Belgium and Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo) & Filip de Boeck (born in Antwerp, Belgium; lives in Brussels, Belgium and Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo) Santiago X (lives in Chicago, USA) Settler Colonial City Project (founded in Ann Arbor USA and Guayaquil, Ecuador) in collaboration with American Indian Center (founded in Chicago, USA) Somatic Collaborative (Felipe Correa & Devin Dobrowolski) (founded in New York, USA) studioBASAR (founded in Bucharest, Romania) Sweet Water Foundation (founded in Chicago, USA) Tania Bruguera (born in Havana, Cuba; lives in New York, USA) & Association of Arte Útil (founded in Havana, Cuba) Tanya Lukin Linklater (born in Alaska, USA; lives in Ontario, Canada) & Tiffany Shaw-Collinge (born in Alberta, Canada; lives in Alberta, Canada) Territorial Agency—John Palmesino & Ann-Sofi Rönnskog (founded in London, England–UK) The Funambulist (founded in Paris, France) Theaster Gates (born in Chicago, USA; lives in Chicago, USA) Usina - CTAH (founded in São Paulo, USA) Vincent Meessen (born in Baltimore, USA; lives in Brussels, Belgium) Walter J. Hood (born in Charlotte, USA; lives in Oakland, USA) Wendelien van Oldenborgh (born in Rotterdam, Netherlands; lives in Berlin, Germany) Wolff Architects (founded in Cape Town, South Africa) Zorka Wollny (born in Kraków, Poland; lives in Berlin, Germany)
Catalog ContributorsAmerican Indian Center (founded in Chicago, USA) Aviwe Mandyanda (BlackStudio) (born in Mdantsane, a township in East London, South Africa; lives in Johannesburg, South Africa) Carmen Silva (born in Santo Estêvão, Brazil; lives in São Paulo, Brazil) cheyanne turions (born in High Prairie, Canada; lives in Vancouver) Dr. Denise Ferreira da Silva (born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; lives in Vancouver, Canada) ELLA (founded in Los Angeles, USA) Emmanuel Pratt (born in Virginia, USA; lives in Chicago, USA) Eduardo O. Kohn (lives in Montreal, Canada) Inam Kula (born in Gugulethu, a township in Cape Town, South Africa; lives in Cape Town, South Africa) Lesley Lokko (born in Dundee, Scotland – UK; lives in Johannesburg, South Africa) Mario Gooden (lives in New York City, USA) Pelin Tan (born in Hilden, Germany; lives in Mardin, Turkey) Stephen Willats (born in London, England–UK; lives in London, England–UK) Vincent Tao (born in Scarborough, Canada; lives in Toronto, Canada) Virginia de Medeiros (born in Feira de Santana, Brazil; lives in São Paulo, Brazil) Vivien Sansour (born in Beit Jala, Palestine; lives in Bethlehem, Palestine and Los Angeles, USA) Columbia Books on Architecture and the City (founded in New York City, USA)
Theaster Gates, MASS Design Group, Wolff Architects, as well as Forensic Architecture and Invisible Institute are among the first wave of contributors announced for this fall’s 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The show, titled ...and other such stories, will be an expansive look into global projects that delve into how architecture relates to land, memory, rights, and civic participation. The initial list of participants, announced last week, features 51 artists, collectives, architects, and researches from 19 countries—only half of the soon-to-be full lineup of participants. According to Biennial Board Chairman Jack Guthman, the international showcase will have something for everyone, designers and Chicagoans alike. “The participants who will explore the significant issues raised by our curators will both challenge and entertain the Biennial’s audiences,” he said. Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu noted the broad range of contributors have backgrounds and projects that “resonate deeply” with the four curatorial areas previously laid out by the organization: “No Land Beyond,” “Appearances and Erasures,” “Rights and Reclamations,” and “Common Ground.” Capetown-based firm Wolff Architects, as well as local Chicago artist Theaster Gates, will present “reflections on landscapes of belonging,” while CAMP from Mumbai and New York’s Center for Spatial Research will uncover the political controversies behind contested spaces of memory. RMA Architects and DAAR, the studio helmed by Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti, will think about how architecture can act as a site of advocacy. Lastly, Construct Lab from Berlin and Adrian Blackwell of Toronto will “explore methodologies for intervening” in public space. Works on these topics and more will allow visitors the chance to interpret their own opinions about the ways in which architects advances or inhibits global stories of culture and history. The projects will be placed in the main exhibition at the Chicago Architecture Biennial, housed in the Chicago Cultural Center. The programming also includes broader, city-wide events and talks. You can read the full list of initial participants here.
The third edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial is coming to the Midwest this fall with a curatorial vision by Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu and co-curators Sepake Angiama and Paulo Tavares. Under the theme ...and other such stories, the biennial will engage “multiple narratives from different geographies and histories” to spark conversation about a future for the field that is shared, diverse, sustainable, inclusive, and equitable. Centered around four areas of inquiry, the biennial will showcase a broad view of the industry while addressing the importance of space, architecture, and nature in connection to the practices of building, designing, planning, policymaking, teaching, and activism. The first focus, “No Land Beyond,” will feature projects inspired by an indigenous approach to nature, ecology, and landscape, while “Appearances and Erasures” will dive into designing monuments and memorials in response to shared and contested memories. “Rights and Reclamations” and “Common Ground” will explore civil rights and advocacy within the field with a particular concentration on affordable and equitable housing. The biennial will also draw from Chicago’s own urban development history, as well as the spatial and socio-economic conditions that have shaped it. By “moving beyond the grand narratives of the city’s architectural heritage,” the biennial will highlight the unique experiences of both architects and everyday people by sharing new voices and perspectives on the environmental and socio-political issues that make up Chicago’s landscape. This idea will be echoed in projects brought to the biennial from around the world. In preparation for the multi-month event, the curators have worked on research initiatives in Chicago, Sao Paulo, Johannesburg, and Vancouver to uncover the most important issues to architects and citizens living in cities today. “Through these engagements,” Umolu said in a statement, “we have drawn out a myriad of stories about how lived experiences across global communities, cities, territories, and ecologies resonate with architectural and space-making practices.” The 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial will run from September 19, 2019, through January 5, 2020. It is free and open to the public. The central exhibition will be held at the Chicago Cultural Center, and other sites throughout the city will host exhibitions, projects, and panels.
The Philadelphia Contemporary, which up till now has been an itinerant “curatorial institution,” bridging art, performance, and spoken word with various pop-ups and events around its namesake city, is getting a permanent physical home by Los Angeles firm Johnston Marklee. The firm, whose partners Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee artistic directed the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial, have worked on a slew of cultural institutions as of late including the recent Menil Drawing Institute in Houston, which opens next week. Following on its nomadic beginnings, the new kunsthalle will be, as Lee puts it, “inextricably woven into the fabric of the city.” The Philadelphia Contemporary, sans building, has programmed cultural events across the city over the past two years, including an ASMR Film Festival, as part of its two week Festival for the People, an arts event that happened over the past two weekends and featured an impressive array of artists, performers, poets, and others from Philly and around the world, including Hito Steyerl, Andrea Bowers, and Lyrispect. The festival also featured selections from Creative Time’s Pledges of Allegiance, which is a series of 16 flags by a number of artists including Jayson Musson, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Tania Bruguera, and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Creative Time’s former chief curator, Nato Thompson, has been serving as the Philadelphia Contemporary’s artistic director. Johnston Marklee was chosen after an extensive search by a 14-member jury comprising representatives from the Philadelphia Contemporary, as well as city officials, members of the arts, design, and literary community, and other local community members. Johnston Marklee will be working with local MGA Partners, the architect of record. The final building design is to be revealed in 2019.
On the eve of the beginning of the trial for Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer charged with (and since convicted of) killing Laquan McDonald, Rahm Emanuel, two-term Chicago mayor, announced that he would not be running for a third term. Citing the need to spend more time with his family, Mayor Emanuel tearfully lamented of his time as mayor: “This has been the job of a lifetime, but it is not a job for a lifetime.” Yet, for Chicagoans, Emanuel’s two terms feel like enough to fill multiple lifetimes, both with development projects and architectural optimism, as well as what he will likely be known for: the decision to close 50 neighborhood public schools in 2013, many of which sit vacant and unsold five years later. Under his watch, Chicago became an infrastructure and design-driven cultural hub, with the first iteration of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Chicago Riverwalk, the 606, and the maturation of Millennium Park into a legitimate tourist destination. Emanuel appeared on broadcast television to proclaim that Chicago was a “Trump-free zone,” yet the president’s name is saliently plastered to the side of a skyscraper in 20-foot-tall letters, a blunder approved by the zoning administrator and the alderman, catching the mayor’s attention only after an architectural outcry. A former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, Emanuel would work hard on the national stage to present himself as the antithesis of Donald Trump yet kept largely quiet about it at home. There was the risible focus on assisting Elon Musk with his rapid transit link to O’Hare Airport, and the sideshow-style hawking of sites for Amazon’s HQ2. Then there were the bombastic press releases, the development of Lincoln Yards, the 78-acre mega-development, and the promise that Chicago would deliver the Obama Presidential Center to Jackson Park. Yet among all of these high-profile projects, Emanuel seemed to love the glamour of developer-driven neighborhood projects most of all. The Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Ordinance of 2015 supercharged the construction of bigger, denser residential buildings along Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) lines, changing the architectural character of some neighborhoods and flushing each neighborhood with micro apartments of questionable affordability and access. The Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program provided surges of cash to neighborhoods but seemed woefully out of touch with its original intent—to subsidize development in underserved neighborhoods—when funds were used to renovate downtown’s Navy Pier. With regard to Chicago’s historic built environment, Emanuel has made a lot of lofty promises that will be tough for the next mayor to fulfill. In 2017 he announced that he would encourage landmark status for the Legacy Walk in Boystown, a half-mile-long outdoor LGBT history exhibit constructed in 1998, which could be a hard sell to the city council due to its newness and obvious political motivations, as the announcement was made during Chicago Pride. While this could be considered a radical move, older, more vulnerable landmarks of cultural heritage, like sites that assist in telling the narrative of the Black Panther Party in Chicago, have yet to be considered for landmarking. Last year, Emanuel also announced that he would block the sale of the postmodern James R. Thompson Center by the State of Illinois out of fear of having to replace the CTA station beneath it but will not take a stance otherwise on the future of the building or its architectural significance. Attempts to restore the perennially threatened Uptown Theatre have stalled and sputtered under Emanuel’s tenure, including the creation of a nonprofit in 2011 to back a public-private partnership to lead the renovation, which ultimately failed. This past summer, Emanuel announced yet again that the Uptown would be restored using a combination of TIF funds and private investment, handing the responsibility to whoever is elected in February of 2019. Emanuel thought big, but also blew it big, and the success of his ideas and the legacy of his failures lie on the shoulders of the next administration, which may take a different direction entirely—perhaps toward neighborhood-led initiatives and on a smaller scale, working to improve parts of the whole—or continue to champion grandiose civic projects. The announcement that Emanuel will not seek a third term scrambles an already crowded field of candidates and piques the interest of new contenders who now believe that they have a shot at defining how Chicago presents itself in the 21st century. We will see how a new mayor designs it, builds it, and tears it down.
The Chicago Architecture Biennial has selected two co-curators for its 2019 program, educator and curator Sepake Angiama, and architect and urbanist Paulo Tavares. Along with creative director Yesomi Umolu, Angiama and Tavares will round out the curatorial team of the Biennials’ third installment, launching in September 2019 and running through January 2020. An educator based in Europe, Sepake Angiama’s work investigates the relationship between art, education and place. Angiama recently served as Head of Education for Documenta 14, where she initiated a work titled Under the Mango Tree: Sites of Learning in cooperation with the Institut fur Auslandsbezieghugen, a project that gathers artist-lead social spaces, libraries and schools and unfolds discourses around decolonizing educational practices. Paulo Tavares is an architect based in Brasilia, where he serves as professor at the Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo, University of Brasilia. In 2017, Tavares created the Agency Autonoma, a platform dedicated to urban research and intervention. Tavares’ work is concerned with conflict and space as they intersect with cities, territories and ecologies. Tavares is a 2017 Graham Foundation grantee. Both co-curators have research-based practices that look thoughtfully at how the built environment relates to social structures on an international scale, factors that will undoubtedly contribute to defining the theme of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, to be announced later this fall. A Chicago-based curator with a background in architectural design and curatorial practices, Yesomi Umolu was announced as creative director of the Biennial in March. This is the first time in the Biennial’s history that the program has selected one creative director and two co-curators. For the third year, the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial will provide a platform for spatial experiments and architectural practices that demonstrate how innovation and creativity can better our lived experience, with its intersectional exhibits radiating across Chicago from the program’s home base at the Chicago Cultural Center. The opening of the 2019 Biennial will align with EXPO CHICAGO, the international Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art. “I am thrilled that Sepake Angiama and Paulo Taveres are joining me to steward the curatorial direction of the 2019 Chicago Architectural Biennial” said Umolu in a press release. “Sepake and Paulo will broaden the range of ideas and practices at the Biennial.”
Chicago-based curator and writer Yesomi Umolu will curate the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Her unique combination of experience in architectural design and curatorial practice will give her a refreshing take on the program, which has served as a barometer for what is happening in the U.S. and abroad. The Architect’s Newspaper: What is your background, and what brought you to the Chicago Biennial? Yesomi Umolu: So my background is in architectural design. I studied it and I worked in practice for a couple of years in the U.K. at Grimshaw, which is a big high-tech practice, and then at a smaller practice called Haworth Tompkins, doing a lot of collaborations with artists, including Dan Graham with his Waterloo Sunset Pavilion at the Hayward Gallery in London. I was working on projects that represented my passion for the arts. Eventually, I went on to curating contemporary art, but kept my foot in the architecture world through my network. I think the types of narratives and discourses that I was interested in were more related to spatial practices and how both architects and artists were dealing with those issues. What brought you to Chicago? I got a job as exhibitions curator at the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. So I’ve been in the U.S. for about seven years. I was at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis before that, and then at the Broad Art Museum at Michigan State in East Lansing. I’ve worked in really nice buildings: Herzog & De Meuron [at the Walker] and then Zaha Hadid [at the Broad], and now Todd Williams and Billie Tsien [at the Logan Center]. So I have been lucky to be surrounded by good architecture. In transitioning from practice to curation, where would you find yourself in relation to the last two Biennials? I would come at it by thinking about space as an inherently political medium and exploring the way in which we make spaces. Spaces are not necessarily neutral things; there are power dynamics at play. Then there are the different sorts of audiences and visitors to those spaces. The critic Jane Rendell coined the term “critical spatial practice,” which was about how one makes spaces and thinks about the politics behind them. She particularly wrote about the relationship between art and architecture, and how architects had a role to play—not just in the building of cultural buildings, but in the formation of cultural spaces, and that their skills could be lent to those spaces as well. Today there are people like Shumon Basar, Eyal Weizman, and other artists who have taken up the helm. I worked with Brad Butler and Karen Mirza, who are in the Weizman architecture school of thought in London, as well as a whole host of others. So that’s where I would kind of situate myself. Broadly speaking, my work has always been interested in questions of globalization, which of course have a spatial articulation to them as well, whether it’s thinking about the flows of people, resources, or money, and how that affects the spaces in which we live and work. So it sounds like there will be some continuity with the last two Biennials. Yeah, exactly. So I think that’s what I can bring to the table: my particular interest in the Global South and also maybe greater access to it as well. So what can we expect in 2019 at the third CAB? Instead of having an idea and just having people funnel into that, I want to create the best team that’s going to help establish a very rigorous conversation through a project of R&D for the next three to six months or so, and a curatorial idea will follow. The role that arts and culture play is obviously something I’m going to be very, very interested in. Secondly, with the Biennial, obviously the last two editions have had folks that have been super embedded in the discipline, whereas it’s nice to have an individual such as myself who has roots in the discipline but can come at it from a slight tangent. I think how we define public space is really important right now—how to redefine participation in public space, and how arts or architecture can be leveraged to encourage more public participation. I’m also really interested in that, thinking about how architecture is communicated from the space of school to the space of practice. I can’t say for sure that it’s going to be like X, but these are my interest areas. What are some of the shows you have curated that might give insight into your thoughts and process? I did a show recently with two Brazilian artists: an artist called Cinthia Marcelle and a filmmaker called Tiago Mata Machado. They’ve been working together for the last five to seven years doing a series of beautiful minimalist videos that look at the social space in Brazil and raise questions of revolution and chaos. These films usually focus on a specific piece of urban fabric or furniture, and then they orchestrate a series of pseudo-performances around that. So we did a show with them this last September that brought together these four video pieces. I think that resonates in terms of thinking about public space, and again, agency, collectivities, and how space can be activated through either political protest or revolution. Also, I did a show recently with Kapwani Kiwanga, who is a Paris-based Canadian artist with a background in comparative religions and ethnography. So she usually mines in a particular history and particular archives and then creates from that. And she was looking at the histories of disciplinary spaces across the world and their sort of legacies and how they affect human behavior and perception. This interview will appear in the upcoming issue 10 of AN Interior.
Architect and professor Mark Lee has been appointed as the next chair of the Architecture Department at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD), effective July 1. Lee has taught as a design critic at GSD since 2013 and brings years of real-world experience to the post, having co-founded the practice Johnston Marklee in 1998 and served as co-artistic director of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial. “I am honored to be entrusted with the chairmanship of the Department of Architecture at the GSD,” said Lee in a statement. “In advancing both the discipline and the profession of architecture, the Department has been without parallel; I look forward to building upon the formidable achievements of my predecessors and this deeply-rooted tradition of excellence. We stand on the threshold of a very challenging, but exciting, future. I feel confident that architecture’s best days lie ahead.” Johnston Marklee has been recognized both domestically and abroad and realized projects of every scale and type in seven countries. The firm’s current projects include the renovation of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, which opened in September 2017, the new UCLA Graduate Art Studios campus in Culver City, California, and the Menil Drawing Institute in Houston, to be completed sometime this year. Lee will succeed K. Michael Hays, who has served as the interim chair since 2016 and taught at Harvard GSD since 1988. Lee’s appointment comes shortly after a $15 million donation to the GSD by Druker Company President Ronald Druker, and follows the appointment of Jeanne Gang and Lee’s partner at Johnston Marklee, Sharon Johnston. Lee himself earned a Master’s in Architecture from the GSD in 1995. “I am delighted that Mark Lee has agreed to serve as the next Chair of the Department of Architecture,” said Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design at Harvard GSD, in a statement. “Johnston Marklee is one of the most talented practices currently working in the United States and beyond, and Mark deeply understands the contemporary world of architecture. His vision and leadership will enormously benefit our students and our School in the years to come. As we welcome Mark to this role, I am also incredibly grateful to Michael Hays for his unwavering and ongoing dedication to the Department of Architecture and the GSD.”
Hot off the closing of a sometimes controversial Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) that still drew nearly 550,000 visitors, CAB leaders and Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel have announced that Yesomi Umolu has been chosen as the artistic director for the 2019 Biennial. The 2019 Biennial, now in its third iteration, will run from September 19, 2019 through January 5, 2020. A committee comprised of Chicago Architecture Biennial board members and past artistic directors considered candidates from around the world and from a variety of disciplines ultimately selected Umolu for this year's biennial. “Yesomi is a visionary curator with strong roots in Chicago, and she will work tirelessly to cultivate an incredible cultural, educational, and economic event for the city,” said Mayor Emanuel in a statement sent to AN. “With Yesomi at the helm, the third Chicago Architecture Biennial is sure to secure its reputation as the most innovative architectural, art, and design showcase of its kind.” Umolu is a Chicago-based writer and curator with a background in architectural design and curatorial studies and a focus on global contemporary art and spatial practices, whose work frequently explores the political nature of the built environment. Umolu will formalize and gather an international curatorial team of practitioners with strong knowledge of architecture, visual arts, and design practices globally in the coming months. The members of the curatorial team will be announced this spring. The move is a natural one for Umolu, who also serves as the Exhibitions Curator at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago. “I am honored to be invited to serve as Artistic Director of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial,” said Umolu in a statement. “Having my roots in the field of architecture, spatial questions have always been an important consideration of my work with contemporary artists, architects, and urbanists from across the world. I am excited to embark on the journey of engaging the city of Chicago and it publics, as well as visitors to Chicago from across the country and around the world, in these conversations.” The jury cited Umolu’s deep ties to the city as well as her curatorial achievements–she was chosen for an Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Curatorial Fellowship in 2016. “Umolu’s curatorial practice, which boldly, yet elegantly, traverses the fields of art and architecture, makes her uniquely situated for success in this role,” said Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee, 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial Artistic Directors, in a joint statement. “The Biennial is a complex and multifaceted platform for exploring both the history and present-day challenges in the field, and we eagerly await the outcomes of Umolu’s curatorial inquiry and exploration.” The 2019 Biennial will also align with the opening of EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, following a successful partnership in 2017. Todd Palmer, Executive Director of the 2017 Biennial, will be returning to lead the 2019 edition.
If you missed the month-long exhibition of the Unsolicited Sideshow in Chicago, it is not too late to be a part of the most subversive portion of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. While the initial exhibition may be over, the programming for the Sideshow continues with the monthly Tank Takeovers at the Chicago Athletic Association. The next event will take place this Friday, November 10 with a “site-specific, immersive light, and sound installation.” The Unsolicited Sideshow first opened with a pop-up exhibition of 11 young architecture practices, literally running alongside the main attraction of the Chicago Architecture Biennial just a few blocks away at the Chicago Cultural Center. For the Tank Takeovers, the Sideshow’s organizers brought together designers, performance artists, and poets over the past months to explore the contemporary conditions of "otherness,” normalcy, and taboo, as they pertain to art, culture, and architecture. In its third installment, this month’s Tank Takeover will take the form of an installation entitled Reverberations. The Tank, the former pool at the Athletic Association, will be filled with projected LED light, “plush puddles of color that spill out onto the floor," and spatial collages activating custom screens. A rotating ensemble of musicians will engage the space, responding and interacting with the installation with experimental music. Presented in collaboration with Detroit and Cincinnati-based firm SUBSTUDIO, the event will include animations by Marc Governanti, and music curated by Zohair Hussein, with fabrication handled by Thomas Dewhirst + Lynn A Jones. The November Tank Takeover will take place at the Chicago Athletic Association on November 10 from 6pm to 10pm. The final Tank Takeover will be on December 8, and will be presented by Portland, Oregon-based Office Andorus in the form of an architectural fiber installation and a dance party.