Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

I’m not going to define history. No matter how heavily that word weighs on the Chicago Architecture Biennial, which opened last weekend. Neither will artistic directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee; although they provocatively titled the second iteration of the event “Make New History”, a phrase borrowed from the title of an artist book by Ed Ruscha.

In remarks to the press, they pointed to the many works displayed in the Chicago Cultural Center as explanation. And if these works are to be trusted, then history is not the dark angel haunting philosophers and historians, but rather something lighter: a shiny treasure trove of references – called forth by Google image search – to be appropriated and stylised.

Deadpan Ruscha understood the irony of his slogan. With three simple words he poked fun at the impossibility of escaping our past. An edition of Make New History sits on the shelves of Johnston Marklee‘s office (or so says editor Sarah Hearne in her introduction to the biennial catalog). Read More …

This November, the Manetti Shrem Museum on the University of California, Davis, campus opened to the public. Designed by New York City–based SO-IL with the San Francisco office of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the museum pays homage to the agricultural landscape of California’s Central Valley with an oversize roof canopy. The steel members of the 50,000-square-foot shade structure, nearly twice the size of the museum itself, reference the patterning of plowed fields and create a welcoming outdoor space for visitors. It is both expressive and practical, but getting that balance wasn’t easy. Read More …

Host curators are Mimi Zeiger (Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design), Leonardo Bravo and River Jukes-Hudson (Big City Forum), and Sarah Lorenzen (Neutra VDL Research House).

This fall, curators from three Los Angeles-based organizations come together as part of World Wide Storefront, a Storefront for Art and Architecture project, to present Host: Natural Histories for Los Angeles. This series of exhibitions and events is a collaboration between Big City Forum, Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design, and the Neutra VDL Research House.

Host: Natural Histories for Los Angeles explores the multivalent meaning of “host” though spectacle, parasitic opportunism, and domestic landscapes. The Neutra VDL Research House serves as the site of these investigations and the house, embedded with spatial effects—mirrors, screens, and pools of water—heightens and confuses the relationship between the domestic interior and the exterior.  Read More …

Let’s get this bit out of the way: Mexico City is dense, Mexico City is colourful, and Mexico City is a place of contrasts. That is to say, in a haze of pollution you can eat tapas on the roof of a boutique hotel designed by Enrique Norton – or scoff down quesadillas on the street, sheltered by a tarp hung between a fence and a lamp post. The city’s famous outdoor markets sell local crafts and produce alongside imported Chinese sundries. Icons of Mexican modernism are tangled in an urban fabric dating back centuries. For a number of young architects, designers, and curators practicing in its colonias (neighbourhoods), Mexico City is more than clichéd observation; it’s an opportunity to refashion the narrative. Read More …