With the September 19 kickoff of the 2019 Chicago Architectural Biennial drawing ever closer, the curatorial team has moved into high gear, announcing today the list of some 80 contributors.

The teams will present work, much of it new, that investigates with how architecture relates to land, memory, rights, and civic participation—four concepts that serve as a framework for the 2019 Biennial.

“It feels like it's all coming together after months and months of thinking and research,” artistic director Yesomi Umolu told RECORD. “We’re getting deep in the weeds with a number of the contributors,” she said. “What does your installation look like? What do you need from us? Will you be on time?” she added, laughing.

Umolu’s co-curators include Sepake Angiama, whose work across Europe centers on education, and Paulo Tavares, an architect and academic based in Brazil. With diverse geographic roots, the trio mined their own professional networks to recruit participants from across the globe. They also met with practitioners in São Paulo, Johannesburg, and Vancouver while conducting their curatorial research.

Notably, contributors receive funding from the Biennial for production, installation, and shipping of works, in addition to an honorarium. “There's a budget that's just for the artistic program,” said Umolu. “So, we've been able to direct a lot of funds directly to people and say, ‘OK, go do what you need to do.’” Much of the work will be original and commissioned specifically for the Biennial, Umolu noted.

Each project may focus on a single framing concept or grapple with more than one. For instance, Chicago’s Borderless Studio, an urban design and research studio-workshop founded by Paola Aguirre Serrano, will work with several international groups, studios, and artists to temporarily repurpose a decommissioned school (originally designed by Perkins+Will, and one of the Biennial’s primary satellite sites) in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the city's South Side—an effort that will address questions of both land use and civic participation.

The Detroit Planning Department—the only city entity represented in the show, Umolu points out—will explore addressing areas of urban blight through small-scale landscape projects. “Their approach has been less about huge plans for development and more about how to beautify neighborhoods slowly,” Umolu explained. “It could start with one plot of land that is improved through plantings. There's a sense of beautification, of care, and of growth and development.”

London-based Forensic Architecture, with Chicago’s Invisible Institute, will examine a single episode of police violence in the city, demonstrating how regular citizens can leverage oral histories and skills like data mining to investigate events in their communities.

Adrian Blackwell—a Toronto-based artist, designer, theorist, and educator, who studies public spaces—will create a library installation that serves as space for study and reflection.

Boston’s MASS Design Group will further the line of thinking that went into the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the lynching memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, with a project that seeks community engagement that will address how to memorialize victims of gun violence. “It’s a project that’s not about designing the memorial, but actually about taking stock of the community experience and their needs with respect to this memorial,” said Umolu, characterizing the effort as something of a pilot project that the team might expand elsewhere.

Find the list of participants below, and stay tuned for further coverage of the Biennial, which runs through January 5, 2020.

Exhibition Contributors:

  • Adrian Blackwell (born in Toronto, Canada; lives in Toronto, Canada)
  • Akinbode Akinbiyi (born in Oxford, England-UK; lives in Berlin, Germany)
  • Alejandra Celedon (born in Edmonton, Canada; lives in Santiago, Chile) & Nicolas Stutzin (born in Santiago, Chile; lives in Santiago, Chile)
  • Alexandra Pirici (born in Bucharest, Romania; lives in Bucharest, Romania)
  • Avijit Mukul Kishore (born in Lucknow, India; lives in Mumbai, India) & Rohan Shivkumar (born in Hyderabad, India; lives in Mumbai, India)
  • Black Quantum Futurism (founded in Philadelphia, USA)
  • Borderless Studio (founded in Chicago, USA)
  • CAMP (founded in Mumbai, India)
  • Carolina Caycedo (born in London, England–UK; lives in Los Angeles, USA)
  • Center for Spatial Research (founded in New York, USA)
  • Chicago Architectural Preservation Archive (founded in Chicago, USA)
  • Clemens von Wedemeyer (born in Göttingen, Germany; lives in Berlin, Germany)
  • Cohabitation Strategies (founded in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and New York, USA) & Urban Front (founded in New York, USA)
  • ConstructLab (founded in Berlin, Germany)
  • DAAR (Sandi Hilal & Alessandro Petti) (founded in Beit Sahour, Palestine)
  • Detroit Planning Department (founded in Detroit, USA)
  • Do Ho Suh (born in Seoul, South Korea; lives in London, England–UK)
  • FICA–Fundo Imobiliário Comunitário para Aluguel (founded in São Paulo, Brazil)
  • Forensic Architecture (founded in London, England–UK) & Invisible Institute (founded in Chicago, USA)
  • Herkes İçin Mimarlık (Architecture For All) (founded in Istanbul, Turkey)
  • Jimmy Robert (born in Guadeloupe–France; lives in Berlin, Germany)
  • Joar Nango (born in Áltá/AltaÁltá, Sápmi/Northern Norway; lives in Romssa /Tromsø, Norway)
  • Jorge González (born in San Juan, Puerto Rico; lives in Puerto Rico)
  • Keleketla! Library (founded in Johannesburg, South Africa), in collaboration with Stockyard Institute (founded in Chicago, USA)
  • Maria Gaspar (born in Chicago, USA; lives in Chicago, USA)
  • MASS Design Group (founded in Boston and Poughkeepsie, USA and Kigali, Rwanda)
  • MSTC (founded in São Paulo, Brazil), in collaboration with Escola da Cidade (founded in São Paulo, Brazil) and O Grupo Inteiro (founded in São Paulo, Brazil)
  • Ola Hassanain (born in Khartoum, Sudan; lives in Khartoum, Sudan and Utrecht, Netherlands)
  • Oscar Tuazon (born in Seattle, USA; lives in Los Angeles, USA)
  • Palestine Heirloom Seed Library Project (founded in the northern West Bank, Palestine)
  • Raumlabor (founded in Berlin, Germany)
  • RIWAQ - Center for Architectural Conservation (founded in Ramallah, Palestine)
  • RMA Architects (founded in Mumbai, India and Boston, USA)
  • Sammy Baloji (born in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo; lives in Brussels, Belgium and Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo) & Filip de Boeck (born in Antwerp, Belgium; lives in Brussels, Belgium and Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo)
  • Santiago X (lives in Chicago, USA)
  • Settler Colonial City Project (founded in Ann Arbor USA and Guayaquil, Ecuador) in collaboration with American Indian Center (founded in Chicago, USA)
  • Somatic Collaborative (Felipe Correa & Devin Dobrowolski) (founded in New York, USA)
  • studioBASAR (founded in Bucharest, Romania)
  • Sweet Water Foundation (founded in Chicago, USA)
  • Tania Bruguera (born in Havana, Cuba; lives in New York, USA) & Association of Arte Útil (founded in Havana, Cuba)
  • Tanya Lukin Linklater (born in Alaska, USA; lives in Ontario, Canada) & Tiffany Shaw-Collinge (born in Alberta, Canada; lives in Alberta, Canada)
  • Territorial Agency—John Palmesino & Ann-Sofi Rönnskog (founded in London, England–UK)
  • The Funambulist (founded in Paris, France)
  • Theaster Gates (born in Chicago, USA; lives in Chicago, USA)
  • Usina - CTAH (founded in São Paulo, USA)
  • Vincent Meessen (born in Baltimore, USA; lives in Brussels, Belgium)
  • Walter J. Hood (born in Charlotte, USA; lives in Oakland, USA)
  • Wendelien van Oldenborgh (born in Rotterdam, Netherlands; lives in Berlin, Germany)
  • Wolff Architects (founded in Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Zorka Wollny (born in Kraków, Poland; lives in Berlin, Germany)

Catalogue Contributors:

  • American Indian Center (founded in Chicago, USA)
  • Aviwe Mandyanda (BlackStudio) (born in Mdantsane, a township in East London, South Africa; lives in Johannesburg, South Africa)
  • Carmen Silva (born in Santo Estêvão, Brazil; lives in São Paulo, Brazil)
  • Cheyanne turions (born in High Prairie, Canada; lives in Vancouver)
  • Dr. Denise Ferreira da Silva (born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; lives in Vancouver, Canada)
  • ELLA (founded in Los Angeles, USA)
  • Emmanuel Pratt (born in Virginia, USA; lives in Chicago, USA)
  • Eduardo O. Kohn (lives in Montreal, Canada)
  • Inam Kula (born in Gugulethu, a township in Cape Town, South Africa; lives in Cape Town, South Africa)
  • Lesley Lokko (born in Dundee, Scotland – UK; lives in Johannesburg, South Africa)
  • Mario Gooden (lives in New York City, USA)
  • Pelin Tan (born in Hilden, Germany; lives in Mardin, Turkey)
  • Stephen Willats (born in London, England–UK; lives in London, England–UK)
  • Vincent Tao (born in Scarborough, Canada; lives in Toronto, Canada)
  • Virginia de Medeiros (born in Feira de Santana, Brazil; lives in São Paulo, Brazil)
  • Vivien Sansour (born in Beit Jala, Palestine; lives in Bethlehem, Palestine and Los Angeles, USA)
  • Columbia Books on Architecture and the City (founded in New York City, USA)