Venice Architecture Biennale's U.S. Pavilion Coming to Chicago

Thrival Geographies (In My Mind I See a Line) by Amanda Williams + Andres L. Hernandez, in collaboration with Shani Crowe at the 2018 U.S. Pavilion. Photo © Tom Harris.

Dimensions of Citizenship: Architecture and Belonging from the Body to the Cosmos, the official US entry at the recently-concluded 16th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, will be on view for the first time in the United States at Wrightwood 659, a new art space located at 659 W. Wrightwood Avenue in Chicago, from February 15 through April 27, 2019.  Devoted to exploring the notion of citizenship today and the potential role of architecture and design in creating spaces for it, Dimensions of Citizenship comprises seven unique installations, each created by a transdisciplinary team of architects and designers. Commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and The University of Chicago (UChicago) on behalf of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the U.S. presentation of Dimensions of Citizenship on view at Wrightwood 659 in Chicago is made possible by Alphawood Foundation Chicago. The exhibition will be accompanied by a range of public programs exploring citizenship and belonging, including talks, performances, workshops, and engagement with local partners (to be announced shortly).

Exhibition curators are: Niall Atkinson, Associate Professor in the Department of Art History and the College at The University of Chicago; Ann Lui, Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Mimi Zeiger, independent critic, editor, curator, and educator; and associate curator Iker Gil, lecturer in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects at SAIC.

To create Dimensions of Citizenship, the curators asked each of the seven transdisciplinary teams to consider what it means to be a citizen today, when conventional notions of citizenship are being simultaneously questioned and expanded. The teams are: Amanda Williams + Andres L. Hernandez, in collaboration with Shani Crowe; Studio Gang; SCAPE; Estudio Teddy Cruz + Fonna Forman; Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Laura Kurgan, Robert Gerard Pietrusko with Columbia Center for Spatial Research; Keller Easterling with MANY; and Design Earth. 

Each of the works in Dimensions of Citizenship grapples with the potential meanings and architectural implications of citizenship at a different scale: from a project focused on the Citizen, to an exploration of Civitas, with its implications of shared purpose and responsibility, through Region, Nation, Globe, Network, and, finally, Cosmos. The resulting works use design to address a diversity of issues, including the meaning of “home,” the right to public space, the uses of civic monuments, the dynamics of borderlands, and the conditions of global migration, among others. What is ultimately revealed is the need for architecture and design to respond to and shape spaces of citizenship at all scales, today and in the future. 

A suite of film and video works in the “Transit Screening Lounge” will look at the migratory flows, blurry edges, and transgressive acts in-between the various architectures of belonging. Filmmakers include Frances Bodomo, Mandana Moghaddam, Marissa Lee Benedict and David Rueter, and Liam Young.

SAIC President Elissa Tenny said, “I am so excited to bring this crucial exploration of citizenship to the United States. During its welcomed reception in the international showcase of the Venice Biennale, Dimensions of Citizenship spoke to our global imagination about the ways in which the built environment affects the politics of belonging. While the exhibition’s focus won’t change in Chicago, it will be an important showcase for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago, who realized the exhibition together, to enact this important conversation with our campus communities and neighbors throughout the city.”

Additional information, texts produced by editorial partner e-flux Architecture, and previous programming is available at: http://dimensionsofcitizenship.org

Dimensions of Citizenship is sponsored in Chicago by the Alphawood Foundation in collaboration with the School of the Art Institute and The University of Chicago.