Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

Co-curators of the U.S. Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, Ann Lui and Mimi Zeiger, will give insight into the curatorial practices and research leading into Dimensions of Citizenship. Interrogating the spatial conditions of design and citizenship, their exhibition will present works by architects, designers, artists, and thinkers who are responding to today’s shifting modes of citizenship, and putting forth visions of future ways of belonging. Future Firm co-founder and School of the Art Institute of Chicago professor Ann Lui, and architecture critic Mimi Zeiger, are curating the exhibition along with University of Chicago architectural history professor Niall Atkinson, and associate curator Iker Gil, founder of MAS Context.

March 27, 2018 – 6:00pm
Art & Architecture Building
Taubman College, University of Michigan

A&A Auditorium (room 2104)

Dimensions of Citizenship challenges architects and designers to envision what it means to be a citizen today. As transnational flows of capital, digital technologies, and geopolitical transformations expand, conventional notions of citizenship are undermined. How might architecture, then, express today’s rhizomatic and paradoxical conditions of citizenship?

The US Pavilion 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. 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 do not solve the complex relationships of governance, affinity, and circumstance that bind us. Instead, they use architecture’s disciplinary agency to render visible paradoxes and formulations of belonging.

Commissioners
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
The University of Chicago

Curators
Niall Atkinson
Associate Professor in the Department of Art History and the College, The University of Chicago

Ann Lui
Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and co-founder of Future Firm

Mimi Zeiger
Los Angeles-based critic, editor, and curator; faculty member in the Media Design Practices MFA program at ArtCenter College of Design

Associate Curator
Iker Gil
Lecturer in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, director of MAS Studio, and founder of MAS Context

Dimensions of Citizenship, the theme of the US Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, co-commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and the University of Chicago, challenges architects and designers to envision what it means to be a citizen today. As transnational flows of capital, digital technologies, and geopolitical transformations expand, conventional notions of citizenship are undermined. How might architecture, then, express, and engage with today’s rhizomatic and paradoxical conditions of citizenship?

Read More …

Tim Durfee, Mimi Zeiger, editors

At a time when “fake news” is part of our daily cultural lexicon, Made Up: Design’s Fictions explores lies, fantasies, and other un-real scenarios as tools of design.

Through essays, interviews, and narratives by Bruce Sterling, Fiona Raby, Sam Jacob and other significant voices in the field, this volume questions the initial discourses around “design fiction”—a broad category of critical design that includes overlapping interests in science fiction, world building, speculation, and futuring. Made Up: Design’s Fictions advances contemporary analysis and enactment of narrative and speculation as an important part of practice today.

Essays, interviews, and narratives by: Julian Bleecker, Benjamin H. Bratton, Anne Burdick, Emmet Byrne, Stuart Candy, Fiona Raby, Tim Durfee, Sam Jacob, Norman M. Klein, Peter Lunenfeld, Geoff Manaugh, Tom Marble, m-a-u-s-e-r, Metahaven, China Miéville, Keith Mitnick, MOS, Susanna Schouweiler, Bruce Sterling, Mimi Zeiger.

Size: 6.25 × 9.25 in. / 16 × 23.5 cm.
Pages: 108
Illustrations: One-Color
Cover: Softcover
Publication date: December 2017
Published By: Actar Publishers / Art Center Graduate Press
ISBN: English 978-1- 5323-4788- 7
Price: 13.50 € / $16 / £12

As busy, busy people who move through the world and occasionally need to sit still, we have a tacit understanding that furniture should be, if not comfortable, at least neutral — ready to accept the buttocks of any size, gender, race, or orientation. Beautiful designs tempt us into repose. However the conceit of universal design is upset when we are forced to recognize that not all bodies fit in or are supported by the most elemental of objects. So when, earlier this year, Hunger and Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay was fat-shamed for requesting a chair sturdy enough to support her frame and outcry ensued against this affront on body acceptance, I was also shocked by how a simple function — sitting — could be weaponized against bodies. It’s with Gay’s incident in mind that I approached maneuvering my wide hips into the dimensions of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Barrel chair. Low ceilings are generally cited for the architect’s famous disregard for bodies other than his own, his sense of scale being modeled on his (alleged) 5-foot-8-and-1/4-inch height. Designed in 1907 as part of the custom furniture of his Gesamtkunstwerk, Darwin Martin House in Buffalo, the Barrel chair is one of his most popular designs, often replicated in its nearly circular geometries. Settled into a reproduction of its oak corseting and obliged thereby to adopt a morally good posture, I imagine other people, other soft bits, shifting uncomfortably against the constraints of universality, yet comforted by the allure of an icon.

“Armrest” appears early on in The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion (Actar). The encyclopedic volume by Tobias Armborst, Daniel D’Oca, and Georgeen Theodore with Riley Gold (plus contributions from a host of architecture, urbanism, and planning notables) begins with “Accessory Dwelling Unit” and ends with “Youth Curfew,” but it is the armrest placed on a public bench to ward off unsanctioned sleeping that most efficiently summarizes what’s at stake throughout this 459-page book: access, control, and space.

As the three partners of Interboro—a Brooklyn-based architecture, planning, and research collective—Armborst, D’Oca, and Theodore are well versed in the contentious history of urban design and policy in U.S. cities. They manage to strike an editorial tone that is forthright but not strident. If anything, it is a bit self-effacing in regard to the legacy of urbanism’s discourses past and present. “For many nascent urbanists, this is where it all begins, with an excerpt from Mike Davis’s City of Quartz and an ensuing epiphany about space and power,” they write in a sidebar to the “Armrest” entry, all too aware that their example could be, in their term, “hackneyed.” Still, the trio stays with the lesson. Read More …

Images of the havoc that natural disasters wreak upon the built environment are part of our cultural consciousness. They have been since the birth of photography. Yet the past decade or so has seen a worrisome convergence: the parallel increases in the ubiquity of media technology and the number and severity of devastating storms, which are arguably linked to climate change. Katrina: drowned New Orleans freeways and neighborhoods (the latter re-created in Beyoncé’s 2016 “Formation” music video). Sandy: a darkened Manhattan shot by Iwan Baan. Harvey: Houston’s graybrown floodwaters captured by drone photography. Irma: cell phone footage of a battered port town in the British Virgin Islands.

The degree to which the two are connected—and the importance of that link—was most acute when Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, cutting out power and destroying telecommunications infrastructure. The Washington Post even attributed the Trump administration’s delayed response in part to not seeing the wreckage. Read More …

When Robert L. McKay, the architect best known for designing and founding the first Taco Bell, died in early October, news of his passing spread nationwide on the AP Wire. The Los Angeles Times ran an obituary, as did Fox Business and news outlets in Kansas and Nebraska – places that were unlikely to have flocked en masse to hard shell tacos before McKay opened his doors in 1962.

In 2015, McKay’s original building was moved from the Los Angeles suburb of Downey to Taco Bell’s corporate headquarters in Irvine, California. Images from that migration reveal his early vision for a hacienda-type fast-food eatery: mission-style arches across the facade, red Spanish tile roof. Riding down the freeway – doublewide on the back of a flatbed truck – the lowly taco stand merged dogged American entrepreneurism and classic Mexican design. Taco Bell is not on the curatorial checklist of Found in Translation, an exhibition on view until January 2018 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) about the design influences between LA and Mexico, but it could be. Or, given how a fast-food restaurant best known for stoner Meximelt binges and questionable slogans – “Make a run for the border” – transmitted Mexican design imagery across the country, it should be. Read More …

Office US Manual is a critical, occasionally humorous, and sometimes stupefying guide to the architectural workplace. The third publication of OfficeUS, this book presents office policies and guidelines spanning the last one hundred years alongside commissioned statements by contemporary contributors, original graphic analysis, and images from The Architects by Amie Siegel. The Manual is a resource for understanding—and reimagining—the nature and design of architectural practice.

Contributors:
Rami Abou-Khalil, Sean Anderson, Andrew Atwood, Phil Bernstein, Besler & Sons, Aleksandr Bierig, Gabrielle Brainard, Landon Brown, Felix Burrichter, Savinien Caracostea, Rafael de Cárdenas / Architecture at Large, Choon Choi, Matthew Clarke, Peggy Deamer, Designers Assembly, Caroline O’Donnell, Craig Edward Dykers, Keller Easterling, Family, Pedro Gadanho, Gordon Gill, Liam Gillick, Marc Guberman, Adam Hayes, Juan Herreros, Sarah M. Hirschman, Phu Hoang, Florian Idenburg, Michael Jefferson, George Barnett Johnston, James von Klemperer, Keith Krumwiede, Jimenez Lai, Andrew Laing, Jesse LeCavalier, Leong Leong, Thomas Y. Levin, John May, Kyle May, Nicholas McDermott, Michael Meredith, Sina Najafi, ODA, John Perry, Daniel Pittman, PlayLab, Inc, Charles Renfro, Pierce Reynoldson, Julian Rose, Andrew Ross, Magali Sarfatti-Larson, SHoP Architects, Manuel Shvartzberg, Galia Solomonoff, Erica Stoller, Dan Taeyoung, Nader Tehrani, Troy Conrad Therrien, Nato Thompson, Ada Tolla, Marc Tsurumaki, Julia van den Hout, J.H. Verkerke, Marina Otero Verzier, Ian Volner, Don Weinreich, Marion Weiss, Sarah Whiting, Mabel O. Wilson, Human Wu, Kim Yao, Michael Young, Mimi Zeiger

The Guggenheim Bilbao marks a temporal point as much as a geographic one—more so than Richard Meier’s Getty Museum, which opened in the same year, or any of the works by Sverre Fehn, who won the Pritzker in 1997, Gehry’s museum embodies a moment where architecture moved from a local to a global condition. This is true of both the strategy of the kunsthalle-like space deployed into an undervalued urbanism with hopes of sparking renewal, and technique—early CATIA-generated forms soon to be a benchmark for expressive architecture. Looking back at this moment in time, I wouldn’t say that the Guggenheim was part of the zeitgeist, but rather it actually presaged 21st-century conditions as it fused technology and globalization.