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Dimensions of Citizenship: Architecture and Belonging from the Body to the Cosmos

Feb 28–Apr 27, 2019

See more images from the exhibition at #dimensionsofcitizenship


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

The curators asked each of the seven 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.

Each of the works in Dimensions of Citizenship grapples with the potential meanings and architectural implications of citizenship at a different scale: from a project focused on the Citizen, to an exploration of Civitas, with its implications of shared purpose and responsibility, through Region, Nation, Globe, Network, and, finally, Cosmos. 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.

A suite of film and video works in the “Transit Screening Lounge” will 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 will be accompanied by a range of public programs exploring citizenship and belonging, including talks, performances, workshops, and engagement with local partners.


Niall Atkinson is Associate Professor of Architectural History in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Noisy Renaissance: Sound, Architecture, and Florentine Urban Life (Penn State University Press, 2016), an excavation of the historical meaning of sound and construction of urban space in Renaissance Florence. His research focuses the experience of space and the reception of architecture in early modern Europe, which has led to several collaborative projects involving the digital reconstruction of the social life and spatial context of Florence in the 15th century. His articles have appeared in I Tatti Studies in the Italian Renaissance, Grey Room, and Senses & Society. His investigation of “Wandering in Rome in the Enlightenment,” co-written Susanna Caviglia, is forthcoming in Word & Image.

Ann Lui is an Assistant Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a registered architect. She is a co-founder of Future Firm, an architectural practice working at the intersections of landscape territory and curatorial experiments, whose work has been exhibited at Storefront for Art & Architecture, the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and The New Museum’s Ideas City. She recently co-edited Public Space? Lost and Found (SA+P/MIT Press, 2017), a volume on spatial and aesthetic practices in the civic realm.

Mimi Zeiger is a Los Angeles-based critic, editor, curator, and educator. She has curated, contributed to, and collaborated on projects that have been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, The New Museum, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, pinkcomma gallery, and the AA School. She co-curated Now, There: Scenes from the Post-Geographic City, which received the Bronze Dragon award at the 2015 Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, Shenzhen. She teaches in the Media Design Practices MFA program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

Iker Gil is an architect and the director of MAS Studio, an architecture and urban design practice based in Chicago. He is Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly design journal MAS Context, editor of the book Shanghai Transforming (Actar, 2008), and curator of several exhibitions, including BOLD: Alternative Scenarios for Chicago, part of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial. Iker has received several grants and awards for his work, including the 2010 Emerging Visions Award from the Chicago Architectural Club and grants from The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Iker teaches architecture studio courses at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Thrival Geographies (In My Mind I See a Line) explores issues of race, fugitivity, and public space. Made of steel and hand-braided cord, the installation illustrates ideas of black spatial practice and points toward a liberatory architecture inclusive of all citizens.

Memphis Landing, a cobblestoned landing on the Mississippi River that served as the city’s historic port, provides the basis for Stone Stories. As part of a larger design process, the project transported hundreds of the site’s cobblestones to Venice—and now to Chicago—to explore how the Landing might become a site of civic memory that represents many citizen voices, past and present.

Ecological Citizen used the Venetian Lagoon as a globally significant case study of a region under threat and argues for the politics and practice of ecological activism to generate new regional landscapes of the future. The intertidal architectural artifacts on view, such as sediment fence and biodegradable coir logs (biodegradable logs), represent bio-reclamation tools for citizen-led responses to climate change.

Challenging the way we think about national boundaries, MEXUS: A Geography of Interdependence presents a mural-sized visualization of the watersheds, indigenous lands, ecological corridors, and migratory patterns that straddle the political border between Mexico and the United States, suggesting an alternative transborder commons that is based not on physical division but rather on shared assets and cooperative opportunities.

In Plain Sight reveals anomalies and the consequent perils at the core of a binary world view. Visitors are shown places in the world with many people and no lights, and those with bright lights and no people, and are suspended between day and night and light and darkness—exposed to the political and social realities of being invisible in plain sight.

The MANY platform proposes the facilitation of migration through an exchange of needs. Favoring cosmopolitan mobility over citizenship, it more robustly networks short-term visas and suggests that cities can bargain with their underexploited spaces to attract a changing influx of talent and resources—matching their needs with the needs of mobile people to generate mutual benefits.

Cosmorama presents three “geo-stories”—Mining the Sky, Planetary Ark, and Pacific Cemetery—that speculate on the legal geography of citizenship and ask how we should reckon with the epic and frontier narratives that have fueled space exploration and projects for off-planet settlement.

Dimensions of Citizenship is presented in Chicago at Wrightwood 659 by the Alphawood Foundation in collaboration with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago.

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