Iker Gil is the associate curator of Dimensions of Citizenship, the official US representation at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale that is on view for the first time in the United States at Wrightwood 659 in Chicago, a gallery designed by Tadao Ando. The exhibition takes place between February 28, 2019 and April 27, 2019.
“In a time when the expansion of the United States–Mexico border wall looms over more nuanced discourses on national citizenship, it is urgent for architects and designers to envision what it means to be a citizen today.
Questions of belonging, of who should be included and how, are posed with every athlete taking a knee, every #metoo, every presidential tweet, and every protest sign or fist raised. Yet as transnational flows of capital, digital technologies, and geopolitical transformations expand, conventional notions of citizenship are undermined. We define the term as a tangle of rights, responsibilities, and attachments linked to the built environment. And so we ask: How might architecture respond to, shape, and express rhizomatic and paradoxical conditions of citizenship?
Dimensions of Citizneship explores seven spatial scales: Citizen, Civitas, Region, Nation, Globe, Network, and Cosmos. These scales, telescoping from body to city to heavens, broadly position citizenship as a critical global topic. Commissioned installations by architects, landscape architects, artists, and theorists investigate spaces of citizenship marked by histories of inequality and the violence imposed on people, non-human actors, and ecologies. These works aim to manifest the democratic ideals of inclusion against the grain of broader systems: new forms of sharing economy platforms, the legacies of the Underground Railroad, tenuous cross-national alliances at the border region, or the seemingly Sisyphean task of buttressing coastline topologies against rising tides.
The installations and the film and video works on view do not solve the complex relationships of governance, affinity, and circumstance that bind us, citizen to stranger, self to other. Instead, they use architecture’s disciplinary agency to render visible paradoxes and formulations of belonging. Only when spatial understandings of citizenship—legal, cultural, and ecological—are in sight might we struggle free from antiquated definitions, forms, or bureaucracies and activate potent spaces for design.”
The exhibition includes work by 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 the Columbia Center for Spatial Research; and Design Earth.
A suite of film and video works in the Transit Screening Lounge 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.
The exhibition is accompanied by a range of public programs exploring citizenship and belonging, including talks, performances, workshops, and engagement with local partners.
For more information about Dimensions of Citizenship, please visit the official website www.dimensionsofcitizenship.org
Photography by Tom Harris Photography.
Architectural Record, “‘Dimensions of Citizenship’ Dreams of Belonging Best at the Smallest and Largest Scales”
Chicago Tribune, “7 highlights from Venice Architecture Biennale are now in the soaring Wrightwood 659 gallery in Chicago”
WTTW, “Artists, Architects Reimagine the Possibilities of Design in ‘Dimensions of Citizenship’”
Location: Wrightwood 659, Chicago
Curators: Nial Atkinson, Ann Lui, and Mimi Zeiger
Associate Curator: Iker Gil
Presented by: Alphawood Foundation in collaboration with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago
Representative Commissioners: Bill Brown, Bill Michel, Jonathan Solomon, and Paul Coffey
Exhibition Design: IN-FO.CO
Assistant Director of Exhibition and Programs: Fabiola Tosi
Chicago Programming Coordinator: Taykhoom Biviji
Chicago Programming Coordinator: Kekeli Sumah