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Chicago Architecture Biennial Opens to the Public on Thursday, September 19

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Press and professional previews take place Tuesday, September 17 and Wednesday, September 18

CHICAGO (September 10, 2019) – Next week, the third edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial will open to the public, bringing together more than 80 contributors from 22 countries -- including Theaster Gates, MASS Design Group, Forensic Architecture & Invisible Institute, RMA Architects, Jimmy Robert, Vivien Sansour, and Wolff Architects, to name a few -- and engaging over 50 partner sites and 100 partner organizations across Chicago. This year’s biennial, titled ...and other such stories, explores the way architecture shapes, and is shaped by, culture, history, and nature around the world, asking critical questions about how architecture has informed our present, and the power the field has to shape a better, more sustainable, and more equitable future.

The Biennial is free and open to the public beginning on Thursday, September 19, 2019 and will be on view both in its main venue, the historic Chicago Cultural Center, and in official offsite venues through January 5, 2020. A press and professional preview will take place on September 17 and 18.

“Biennials offer a unique opportunity both to reflect on the state of the field and to showcase new projects and research by established and emerging practitioners,” noted Yesomi Umolu, Graham Foundation Artistic Director, Chicago Architecture Biennial. “Our goal with ...and other such stories was to find inspiration in the built environment of Chicago that would spur a conversation globally on our rights, memories, and relationship with the natural world.  We are excited to present the biennial projects and continue this collective conversation with citizens of all ages in Chicago and visitors to the city.”

Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot continued, “The Biennial represents a remarkable time for the city, when citizens, visitors, cultural organizations, and businesses are all able to come together to celebrate and explore our shared histories and envision new possibilities for the future of cities. We are honored to be the site of this inquiry, bringing compelling figures from around the globe and positioning Chicago at the forefront of an exploration of what the future holds.”

More than 80 contributors from around the world

The contributors -- selected by the Biennial’s curatorial team, which in addition to Umolu includes co-curators Sepake Angiama and Paulo Tavares -- will present works that reflect on architecture as it relates to social, political, and environmental issues worldwide, including issues around property and social housing, the division of natural resources, and systems of power and civil rights.

Some key highlights of the exhibition, which will be uniquely discursive and interactive, include:

Projects that address public and social housing conditions, featuring various forms of practice that treat housing as a right, including:

  • An installation presenting the multifaceted work of a social movement in São Paulo (MSTC - Movimento Sem Teto do Centro);
  • Nonprofit architects highlighting projects that help community groups and social movements design, build, and manage their own residences and communal spaces (Usina-CTAH);
  • Interdisciplinary urban researchers bringing their practices to life through interactive displays and installations (Cohabitation Strategies and Urban Front; Alejandra Celedón, Nicolás Stutzin, and Javier Correa); and
  • An interactive web-based film and series of lecture-performances that explore the changing urban landscape of a global metropolis (CAMP).

Explorations of how spaces of exclusion define urban and global citizenship:

  • Street photography that visualize the threads of community in the urban environment (Akinbode Akinbiyi);
  • Creative place-making through projects that uncover systems of ownership of land and property (Theaster Gates); and
  • Speculative spatial projects that propose reshaping relationships to territory though radical land use and architecture (Vincent Meessen).
Works that explore shared and contested memories in relation to social histories, public space, and monuments:

  • A look at how difference has been spatialized in the United States both today and in the past (Center for Spatial Research);
  • Visual investigations of how colonization and the displacement of people erases cultures, histories, and narratives (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency; Chicago Architectural Preservation Archive); and
  • Installations and performances that explore and gesture toward reclaiming social spaces and cultural heritage (Sweet Water Foundation; Tanya Lukin Linklater and Tiffany Shaw-Collinge).
Inquiries that encourage alternative designs and relationships between land, nature, and society:

  • Explorations of the social, territorial and environmental impact of extractive economies (Somatic Collaborative; Territorial Agency);
  • Work that addresses the relationship between architecture and the environment through design and learning processes (Oscar Tuazon); and
  • An installation addressing the social and ecological impact of energy infrastructures (Carolina Caycedo).
Projects that highlight the varied cultural histories of land, for example:

  • An intervention into the history of the Chicago Cultural Center itself (Settler Colonial City Project and American Indian Center);
  • Explorations of the dimensions of memory, heritage, and identity in the cultivation of land (Palestine Heirloom Seed Library; Wolff Architects);
  • Site-specific installations that explore sovereignty and heritage forged through landscape design and architectural preservation (Santiago X; RIWAQ); and
  • Works that address landscapes of resistance, recovery, and resilience, such as Three Trees: Jackson, Obama, Washington (Walter J. Hood), which relocates trees from the South Side to the Chicago Cultural Center, transporting the memory inscribed in landscape to a new place.
Extending the reach of the Biennial beyond the Chicago Cultural Center, elements of the central exhibition will also be installed in key offsite venues, including (Former) Overton Elementary School, the National Public Housing Museum’s future site at the former Jane Addams Homes, Homan Square with the School of the Art Institute, and the Jane Addams Hull House Museum.

Over 100 Civic, Educational, and Cultural Partners throughout the City

In coordination with the main exhibition, more than 50 sites across the city will partner with the Biennial, both serving as host venues and producing independent exhibitions that expand on the Biennial’s exploration of the forefront of contemporary architectural and spatial practice and thought. Over 100 organizations will host programming -- ranging from events, lectures, and panels to workshops and performances -- bringing a shared exploration of space, community, and architecture to Chicagoans of all ages, interests, and backgrounds, as well as visitors from around the world.

These exhibitions range from an exhibition exploring the practice of Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao at the Graham Foundation to a field of 10,000 cabbages and a fully functional outdoor garden kitchen behind the historic Garfield Park Conservatory grounds by Danish artists Gamborg/Magnussen, organized in coordination with the Chicago Park District and Danish Arts Foundation, and the Justice Hotel at 6018North, a communal hotel where guests are invited to “check in” to justice, developed with Amanda Williams and ALAANA concierge-curators.

“The Biennial exemplifies Chicago as a city of celebration and collaboration. The exhibition celebrates the exploration of ideas which focus on the intersection of architecture and the issues which confront municipalities worldwide. It is a collaboration of exhibitors coming together for an exposition mounted in partnership with renowned local arts and cultural organizations, supported by generous corporations, foundations, and individuals, and enjoyed by both visitors to our city and Chicago residents of all ages, from every neighborhood,” said Jack Guthman, Chairman of the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

About the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial

The Chicago Architecture Biennial’s 2019 edition, titled ...and other such stories, will form an expansive and multi-faceted exploration of the field of architecture and the built environment globally. Developed through a research-led approach, the biennial addresses the potency of space, architecture, and the natural world as they relate to four areas of inquiry: (1) No Land Beyond, which draws inspiration from indigenous approaches to nature, ecology, and landscape that transcend property ownership; (2) Appearances and Erasures, which explores both shared and contested memories in consideration of monuments, memorials, and social histories; and (3) Rights and Reclamations and (4) Common Ground, which foreground aspects of rights, advocacy, and civic purpose in architectural practice, including affordable and equitable housing.                                   

The third edition of the biennial is particularly inspired by Chicago, moving beyond the grand narratives of the city’s architectural heritage to explore the history and conditions that have and continue to shape its urban development. This approach has inspired a broader view on the field of architecture to embrace practices that span building, design, planning, visual art, policymaking, education, and activism. ...and other such stories will create a program that addresses the four areas of inquiry from these varied frames of reference — together exploring the changing and challenging conditions of our societies and environments. Emanating from the central exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center and extending into the city, the 2019 Biennial will feature a series of new commissions, residencies, partner projects, and public programs.                                                                              

About the Chicago Architecture Biennial

The Chicago Architecture Biennial provides a platform for groundbreaking architectural projects and spatial experiments that demonstrate how creativity and innovation can radically transform our lived experience. Through its constellation of exhibitions, full-scale installations, and programming, the Biennial invites the public to engage with and think about architecture in new and unexpected ways, and to take part in a global discussion on the future of the field.

The Biennial is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to creating an international forum on architecture and urbanism. The inaugural 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial — presented in partnership with the City of Chicago and the Graham Foundation, and through the support of BP America — was the manifestation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s vision for a major international architectural event and an outcome of the comprehensive cultural plan developed by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events under the leadership of Michelle T. Boone.

The 2015 and 2017 editions of the biennial, curated by Joseph Grima and Sarah Herda (2015) and Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee (2017), collectively engaged over 250 leaders in architecture and art from more than 60 cities spanning 38 nations. For more information, visit chicagoarchitecturebiennial.org.

Sponsors and Special Partners

Support for the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial is provided through Founding Sponsor BP America and Presenting Sponsors Exelon and Old World Industries, with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events serving as Presenting Partner. The opening of the 2019 edition aligns with EXPO CHICAGO, The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art. The Chicago Architecture Center is the Signature Education Partner.

The 2019 Biennial has been made possible with lead support from Principal Sponsors Alphawood Foundation and Clayco and gifts from Bluhm Family Charitable Foundation, Chicago Community Trust, Graham Foundation, Joe and Rika Mansueto, Lendlease, Zell Family Foundation, Allstate Insurance Company, Choose Chicago, Loewenberg Charitable Foundation, Magellan Development Group, Samuel M. and Ann S. Mencoff Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, John D. & Alexandra C. Nichols Family Foundation, The Revel Group, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, Terra Foundation, Thornton Tomasetti, Walsh Foundation, Chicago Loop Alliance, Comcast, Crown Family Philanthropies, Joyce Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, Ms. Sylvia Neil and Mr. Dan Fischel, Polk Bros. Foundation, Sara Szold, Anne Kaplan, Jack & Sandra Guthman, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Onni Group, Helen Brach Foundation, Philip H. Corboy Foundation, Edlis-Neeson Foundation, Helyn Goldenberg and Michael Alper, Irving Harris Foundation, John H. Hart Foundation, Mellody Hobson and George Lucas, Mr. and Mrs. William L. Hood, Krueck + Sexton Architects, Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, Neisser Family Foundation, Segal Family Foundation, and The Peninsula Chicago. In-kind support is provided by Intelligentsia, Koval, Eli’s Cheesecake, Spring Mountain, Revolution Brewing, and R4 Services. Chicago Cultural Center furnishings by Vitra. Special thanks to visitor experience enhancements from HAY and COS.

Media partners for the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial include AD PRO, ArchDaily, The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, CS INTERIORS, Dezeen, Frieze, Metropolis, PIN-UP, SURFACE, Time Out Chicago, and WBEZ91.5. Hotel partners include Chicago Athletic Association, Kimpton Gray Hotel, Kimpton Hotel Palomar Chicago, and Hotel Julian.

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