Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

US Pavilion, Venice Architecture Biennale: May 26–November 25, 2018

Wrightwood, Chicago: February 28–April 27, 2019

Curators: Niall Atkinson, Ann Lui, Mimi Zeiger, and Iker Gil

Commissioners: University of Chicago and School of the Art Institute Chicago

Participants: 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 the Columbia Center for Spatial Research, Keller Easterling with MANY, and Design Earth

Films: Frances Bodomo, Mandana Moghaddam, David Rueter and Marissa Lee Benedict, Mika Rottenberg, and Liam Young

Exhibition and graphic design: INFO_CO

Photos: Tom Harris Read More …

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.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago
The University of Chicago

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

Last Friday, Rem Koolhaas sat on stage in the main event tent of Fundamentals, the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, la Biennale de Venezia, for a panel discussion on preservation. His shoulders were characteristically hunched and his hands were folded over the microphone. All eyes were on Koolhaas as the packed house waited for him to speak, willing him to fully explain why, as director of the biennale, he broke La Biennale into three parts, tasking the national pavilions with a research imperative entitled Absorbing Modernity: 1914–2014, devoting the Central Pavilion to the kit-of-parts Elements of Architecture, and filling the Arsenale with the interdisciplinary, countrywide scan, Monditalia. Read More …

OfficeUS 25 ISSUES TALKS, the inaugural working summit of the United States Pavilion at the 14th International Architecture Exhibition, la Biennale de Venezia, in Venice, Italy. The conversations will take place during the opening days, on June 6th, 7th, and 8th at the US Pavilion in the Giardini and will launch the six month investigation of OfficeUS. Read More …

The day before the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale opened to the public, Wolf D. Prix, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU’s resident avant-gardist issued a statement to the press. Rebuking the curators for banality in the face of crisis, Prix’s missive evokes a colourful vision of architects packed into a sinking gondola, a metaphor for the discipline’s “powerlessness and irrelevance.” And his prickling has a target. “Politicians and project managers, investors and bureaucrats have been deciding on our built environment for a long time now,” he writes. “Not the architects.” Meanwhile, deep in the Biennale, Public Works: Architecture by Civil Servants, OMA’s contribution to Common Ground, counters the Austrian’s lament.

Public Works celebrates the bureaucrat. Read More …

In recent years, there has been a nascent movement of designers acting on their own initiative to solve problematic urban situations, creating new opportunities and amenities for the public. Provisional, improvisational, guerrilla, unsolicited, tactical, temporary, informal, DIY, unplanned, participatory, opensource—these are just a few of the words that have been used to describe this growing body of work.

Spontaneous Interventions frames an archive of compelling, actionable strategies, ranging from urban farms to guerrilla bike lanes, temporary architecture to poster campaigns, urban navigation apps to crowdsourced city planning. These efforts cut across boundaries, addressing architecture, landscape, infrastructure, and the digital universe, and run the gamut from symbolic to practical, physical to virtual, whimsical to serious. But they share an optimistic willingness to venture outside conventional practice and to deploy fresh tactics to make cities more sustainable, accessible, and inclusive.

Awarded Special Mention for National Participation.

Commissioner and Curator: Cathy Lang Ho
Co-curators: David van der Leer and Ned Cramer
Curatorial Advisors: Paola Antonelli, Anne Guiney, Zoe Ryan, Michael Sorkin and Erik Adigard
Project managers: Gordon Douglas and Mimi Zeiger
Design: Freecell, M-A-D, and Interboro Partners

“[T]he show may not be the first but it is the latest and one of the most panoramic surveys of this sort of insurgent, unplanned, provisional, do-it-yourself micro-cultural citizen activism.

That many of the projects here skirt authority and don’t involve architects suggests not that architects aren’t important or that cities don’t depend on top-down plans. It suggests that cities and architects still have a ways to go to catch up with an increasingly restless public’s appetite for better design and better living.

And that the public isn’t waiting.”—Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times

If there’s a common question to be answered by the dozens of projects collected in Spontaneous Interventions, it might be: “What is the role of a local project in a global age?” The individual projects represented—pop-up parks, community agriculture, ad-hoc street furniture, guerrilla bike lanes—are not necessarily overt as they position themselves against the effects of global capital. However, taken as a group, these interventions run counter to the unchecked boom-and-bust development of what David Harvey and others critically describe as the neoliberal city. Small-scale and socially engaged, spontaneous interventions use design to enrich public space and foster civic life at a time when the disparity between daily life and the governmental and corporate mechanisms shaping cities is at an all-time high. Read More …

AGENCY has been selected to exhibit at the Venice Biennale (La Biennale di Venezia), acting as ambassadors for SUPERFRONT in collaboration with At Work With at the Nordic Pavilion to realize “30S”, a crowdsourced video installation addressing the role of the architect in the design of public space.

Project Description
The project expands the theme of the 12th International Architectural Exhibition at the Venice Biennale to highlight the role of the festival itself in fabricating and amplifying the identity of the contemporary architect.

While “people meet in architecture”, the architect often operates in environments uncannily devoid of interpersonal contact. Paradoxically, it is from these most private spaces that our cities’ civic buildings and public spaces are designed.

The installation will linger in the private space of the architect, projecting a continuous stream of user-generated content from an installation-specific web-based video channel, acting as a clearinghouse for 30-second clips of static-shot digital video. Video will highlight the quotidian, intimate, and banal aspects of architectural endeavor, forcibly colluding these highly personal spaces with the public realm by means of digital projection into the exhibit space of the Pavilion.

AGENCY will host user-generated content in a continuous, looping stream on the AGENCY blog.