A Love of the World: The Photography of the 2017 Chicago Architectural Biennial

"The artists gathered in A Love of the World present us with a kaleidoscopic view of architecture and the city where the ideas of the discipline and the artifacts of the world find new and fertile common grounds. Through their insistence on looking at architecture across the grain of its own categories and as part of a larger context, the images comprising this exhibition construct a discourse that is both a response and a companion to the main thesis of the second Chicago Architecture Biennial—Make New History. The proposal is that in order to effectively reintroduce history as a working material for architects today, we must also adopt an understanding of architecture as being, at any point in time, part of a larger material culture."

- Jesús Vassallo. Gus Wortham Assistant Professor, Rice Architecture.

"A Love of the World: The Photography of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial," excerpted from Make New History, Lars Müller Publishers , 2017.
David Schalliol’s series on the Chicago Housing Authority deals with the literal dismantlement of the modern legacy of Mies and his contemporaries through the demolition of the midcentury social housing projects of the city. In doing so, Schalliol shatters the aura of atemporality associated with modernism and the notion that it exists outside of history. In his careful and personal portrayal of this process, which transcends traditional documentary photography to become its own genre, Schalliol contrasts the disassembly of the buildings with the vitality of their inhabitants. It is as if the architecture, a theatrical backdrop for daily life, becomes itself animated, putting forward the illusion that the buildings are receding into the mists of time as much as they are transforming to mark a new and uncertain beginning.
True to his beginnings as an architectural historian, Filip Dujardin has produced a series of digital prints that focus on the interaction and interdependence between urban form, architectural type, and construction detail. His inclusive survey of high-rise construction in Chicago reveals to us the ways in which what we understand as the image of a city is constructed fi rst and foremost through repetition and consistency. By manipulating the parameters underlying such consensus within the highly recognizable system of the Chicago grid and its architecture, Dujardin proposes a series of transfers or contaminations between diff erent time periods, scales, and modes of architectural production, yielding images that contain alternative histories for the city.
Finally, Marianne Mueller turns her attention to the architecture of the venue, in this case the Chicago Cultural Center, in order to focus on the moments when the different stages of its life enter into contact with each other. Through her hunter-gatherer approach, which is rooted in the photographic tradition of the snapshot, and her deep understanding of architecture as being made up of a series of elements that are in essence democratic, Mueller captures the clashes between the noble architecture of the center’s nineteenth-century building and the contemporary generic materials of the additions and partitions that enable its many functions today.
Her blown up prints of fragments of the building interiors, installed in the vitrines at the G.A.R. Hall in the Chicago Cultural Center, open up a meta dialog about the representational role of architecture and its interiors. In doing so, Mueller’s work becomes a testament to our chang-ing notions of public space and public institutions and, more critically, to the resilience and the capac-ity of architecture to survive and renew itself through time—to traverse history and speak the different languages of its present.

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