Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu builds out curatorial team with expertise in research architecture and discursive practices

CHICAGO (May 15, 2018) – The Chicago Architecture Biennial announced today that curator and educator Sepake Angiama, and architect and urbanist Paulo Tavares will join the curatorial team of 2019 Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu. The Biennial is the largest architecture and design exhibition in North America, and highlights the transformative global impact of creativity and innovation across creative fields that affect the way we live, work, and organize society around the world.  

Both co-curators have international, research-based practices that look deeply at how the built environment reflects social structures, augmenting Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu’s focus on global contemporary art and spatial practices. Their combined expertise in research architecture and discursive practices means that diverse forms of knowledge-production and engagement will materialize in the Biennial’s innovate international program.

“I am thrilled that Sepake Angiama and Paulo Tavares are joining me to steward the curatorial direction of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial” said Yesomi Umolu “Sepake and Paulo are noted for their contributions to their respective fields. They will broaden the range of ideas and practices at the biennial, and will be instrumental as we develop platforms for learning and engagement. I am excited to begin our work together.”

Sepake Angiama is based in Europe. Her work focuses on the social framework, exploring how social spaces can be disrupted or provoked by multi-modal forms of learning, performance, design and architecture. Paulo Tavares is based in Brasília. His research centers on the intersections between space, conflict, rights and visual cultures.  

“I am thrilled that Sepake Angiama and Paulo Tavares, together with Yesomi Umolu, will curate another outstanding lineup of exhibitions, installations, programming and discussions to share our legacy of architectural ingenuity with the world,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Chicago has long been a global leader in architecture, design and innovation, and we are honored that these forward-looking experts are at the helm of the third Chicago Architecture Biennial.”

Chicago Architecture Biennial Chairman Jack Guthman added, “The diverse talents and perspectives our curatorial team bring to the Biennial assure that the 2019 exposition will again meet our dual objectives— to host an important dialogue about architecture in the American city heralded for its architecture and to provide Chicagoans and visitors to our city an opportunity to experience new ways of understanding the built environment. The choice of these artistic leaders promises a compelling and internationally relevant Biennial.”

Working closely with the Artistic Director, the co-curators will play an integral role in defining the theme for the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, which will be announced later this fall. They will contribute to the development of projects, public programming and publications for the Biennial.

The Biennial, now in its third edition, will return September 19, 2019, and run through January 5, 2020. Press and professional previews will take place September 17–18, 2019.

Following a successful partnership in 2017, the opening of the 2019 edition will align with EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, and the main site of the Biennial will once again be the Chicago Cultural Center. This edition of the Biennial will again be under the leadership of Executive Director Todd Palmer, following a successful tenure during the 2017 edition.

About Sepake Angiama

Sepake Angiama is a curator and educator currently based in Europe. Her work focuses on the social framework and discursive practices. This has inspired her to collaborate with artists, architects and designers who disrupt or provoke aspects of the social sphere through action, design, dance, and architecture. Angiama recently served as Head of Education for Documenta 14 where she initiated Under the Mango Tree: Sites of Learning in cooperation with ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), a project that gathers artist-led social spaces, libraries and schools interested in unfolding discourses around decolonizing education practices. Previously, she was Head of Education for Manifesta 10 hosted by the Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg. Angiama is currently a Fellow at BAK, Utrecht (basis voor actuele kunst) and is undertaking research on science fiction, modernist architecture and intersectional feminism. Angiama holds an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, London.

About Paulo Tavares

Paulo Tavares is an architect who lives in Brasília, where he is professor at the Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo, University of Brasília. His work has been featured in various exhibitions and publications worldwide, including Harvard Design Magazine, the Oslo Architecture Triennale, the Istanbul Design Biennial, and the São Paulo Biennial. Tavares’s design and pedagogic practice spans different territories, social geographies, and media. He taught spatial and visual cultures at the School of Architecture, Design, and Arts at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador in Quito, and prior to that led the MA program at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he also completed his Ph.D. In 2017, he created the agency autonoma, a platform dedicated to urban research and intervention. Tavares is a long-term collaborator of Forensic Architecture and he is currently a fellow at the Canadian Centre for Architecture.