Chicago Architecture Biennial Announces Title and Curatorial Focus of 2019 Edition

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…and other such stories embraces a broad spectrum of perspectives on architecture to imagine space and the built environment anew

Curatorial team draws on the spatial, historical, and socio-economic conditions of Chicago to consider questions of land, memory, rights, and civic participation

September 19, 2019 - January 5, 2020

CHICAGO (February 6, 2019) – The Chicago Architecture Biennial announced today that its 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 will address 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.

“Our approach to this edition of the biennial has evolved through conversations with architects, spatial practitioners, and everyday people in Chicago and other global locations, including through partnerships fostered in our research initiatives in the cities of Sao Paulo, Johannesburg, and Vancouver,” noted Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu. “Through these engagements, 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.”

By engaging multiple narratives from different geographies and histories, …and other such stories fosters conversations that resonate simultaneously with local and global participants. The central focus of the exhibition is to create reciprocal space for the exchange of ideas and strategies that open the field of architecture to new viewpoints, addressing the urgent and shifting conditions of our societies and imagining the built environment anew.

“For each bi-annual edition, the Chicago Architecture Biennial’s artistic direction lays out a unique vision that frames issues at the leading edge of the field,” noted Biennial Executive Director Todd Palmer. “We are thrilled that this year’s curatorial focus will open up the architectural conversation on key socio-political and environmental issues that shape our present reality and introduce new voices and perspectives. Through the dialogue they catalyze, we expect this Biennial to inform a collectively imagined future.”

Building from the diverse and international experience of the curatorial team, …and other such stories will engage participants from a wide range of disciplines — both within the traditional field of architecture and from adjacent disciplines — to explore the implications of architecture and the built environment as they relate to land, memory, rights, and civic participation. The team comprises Artistic Director Yesomi Umolu, a contemporary art curator, and co-curators Sepake Angiama, a curator whose work centers on education, and Paulo Tavares, a Brazil-based architect and academic.

“The Biennial is a centerpiece of the Chicago cultural landscape, bringing the entire city together to celebrate, explore, and understand the legacy and impact of architecture. As a city with an architectural history that forms such a strong foundation of our identity, we are thrilled that this year’s team will shine a light on Chicago as a global convener for leading architectural thought,” noted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The Biennial is the largest architecture and design exhibition in North America. It is designed to deepen and expand the dialogue on architecture and the built environment with both industry leaders and everyday citizens, envisioning and sparking a future of architecture that is, first and foremost, shared, inclusive, diverse, sustainable, and equitable.

“The 2019 Biennial will engage practitioners and thought leaders from around the globe, as well as Chicagoans and visitors to our city, in a dialogue about the intersection of architecture and the issues faced by communities everywhere,” remarked Chairman of the Board Jack Guthman. “And, true to our mission, the Biennial will again bring these discussions into school rooms across Chicago’s neighborhoods.”

Concurrent with the announcement of this year’s focus, the Biennial has unveiled the new graphic identity for the edition, designed by ELLA. The Los Angeles-based design studio will design the visual identity, citywide campaign, exhibition graphics, and accompanying catalogue for the 2019 edition.

The Biennial, which is free and open to the public across all citywide locations, will return September 19, 2019 and run through January 5, 2020. Press and professional previews will take place September 17–18, 2019. Founding sponsor BP will renew its support in 2019 as a lead sponsor alongside the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, providing a strong foundation for the event’s return. The main site of the Biennial will once again be the Chicago Cultural Center and the opening of the 2019 edition will align with EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art.

About 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 — 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.