Exhibition from Venice Architecture Biennale coming to Chicago in 2019

Biennale entry co-commissioned by UChicago examines citizenship

An exhibition from the recently concluded Venice Architecture Bienniale that was co-commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago is coming to Chicago early next year.

Dimensions of Citizenship: Architecture and Belonging from the Body to the Cosmos, the official U.S. entry at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, will be on view for the first time in the United States from Feb. 15 to April 27, 2019 at Wrightwood 659 in Chicago.

Devoted to exploring the notion of citizenship today and the potential role of architecture and design in creating spaces for it, Dimensions of Citizenship comprises seven unique installations, each created by a transdisciplinary team of architects and designers. It was commissioned on behalf of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a range of public programs exploring citizenship and belonging, including talks, performances, workshops and engagement with local partners.

The exhibition curators include UChicago’s Niall Atkinson, associate professor in the Department of Art History and the College whose research focuses the experience of space and the reception of architecture in early modern Europe; Ann Lui, assistant professor in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Mimi Zeiger, independent critic, editor, curator and educator; and associate curator Iker Gil, lecturer in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture and Designed Objects at SAIC.

To create Dimensions of Citizenship, the curators asked each of the seven transdisciplinary teams to consider what it means to be a citizen today, when conventional notions of citizenship are being simultaneously questioned and expanded. The teams are: 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 Columbia Center for Spatial Research; Keller Easterling with MANY; and Design Earth.

The Chicago exhibition will include a suite of film and video works in the “Transit Screening Lounge” that 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.

Dimensions of Citizenship eloquently embodies Wrightwood 659’s dual focus: on architecture and on art that engages with the pressing issues of our day. It would be difficult to think of a more urgent and timely issue than what it means to be a citizen. We hope that this exhibition will provoke visitors to think about multiple aspects of citizenship and how architects, designers and artists might respond to them,” said Lisa Cavanaugh, director of Wrightwood 659. “We are grateful to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago for enabling us to present this important exhibition.”

Each of the works in Dimensions of Citizenship grapples with the potential meanings and architectural implications of citizenship at a different scale. The resulting works use design to address a diversity of issues, including the meaning of “home,” the right to public space, the uses of civic monuments, the dynamics of borderlands and the conditions of global migration, among others. What is ultimately revealed is the need for architecture and design to respond to and shape spaces of citizenship at all scales, today and in the future.

“The arts at the University of Chicago embrace a commitment to experimental scholarship with global impact and engagement with distinctive architecture,” said Robert J. Zimmer, president of the University of Chicago. “La Biennale di Venezia provided an opportunity to collaborate with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on an exhibition that presents the American architectural imagination at its best and dramatizes how that imagination connects to the question of citizenship, a question of urgency around the globe.”

“We are grateful for the collaboration and philanthropic support that have made it possible to bring this exhibition to additional audiences in Chicago,” Zimmer added.

SAIC President Elissa Tenny said: “I am so excited to bring this crucial exploration of citizenship to the United States. During its welcomed reception in the international showcase of the Venice Biennale, Dimensions of Citizenship spoke to our global imagination about the ways in which the built environment affects the politics of belonging. While the exhibition’s focus won’t change in Chicago, it will be an important showcase for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago, who realized the exhibition together, to enact this important conversation with our campus communities and neighbors throughout the city.”

Dimensions of Citizenship is sponsored in Chicago by the Alphawood Foundation in collaboration with the School of the Art Institute and the University of Chicago.