Making/Writing/Teaching Contested Histories, Chicago Architecture Biennial, December 2017

Responding to the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial call to “Make New History,” Feminist Art and Architecture Collaborative organized a panel discussion, Making / Writing / Teaching Contested Histories.

Architects often situate their practice in relation to a set of canonical objects, determined by historical narratives produced in academia. Yet, at a time when systemic racism is rising and societal rights are eroding, it is important to re-evaluate which objects make this set, and the narratives we write around them. Our panel will problematize and reframe historical narratives as the product of agonistic interactions, conflicts, and contestation at large. The discussion will foreground issues of class, race, and gender, interrogating how they partake in the production of the built environment.

FAAC assembled a panel of scholars and practitioners whose work aligns with our research and teaching on reformulating the history of art and architecture survey with an intersectional feminist approach. What kinds of strategies are historians, practitioners, and curators deploying to make and write these new histories? What challenges and pitfalls beset those who do this work? What structures are needed to do this work and how can we push our institutions to support challenges to their habitual canons? We have invited these scholars and practitioners to discuss their practices and the way in which they produce new histories of art and architecture. The conversation will be moderated by FAAC.

Making/Writing/Teaching Contested Histories was a program partner to the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

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Kian Goh, RA, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. She researches urban ecological design, spatial politics, and social mobilization in the context of climate change and global urbanization. A licensed architect, she co-founded design practice SUPER-INTERESTING!, and previously worked with Weiss/Manfredi and MVRDV. She has taught at Northeastern University, MIT, University of Pennsylvania, the New School, and Washington University in St. Louis. Kian received a Ph.D. in Urban and Environmental Planning from MIT, and a Master of Architecture from Yale University.

Sandi Hilal has developed together with Alessandro Petti a research-project based artistic practice that is both theoretically ambitious and practically engaged in the struggle for justice and equality. They founded Campus in Camps, an experimental educational program hosted in Dheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem with the aims to overcome conventional educational structures by creating a space for critical and grounded knowledge production connected to greater transformations and the democratization of society. In 2007 with Eyal Weizman they founded DAAR (Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency), an architectural studio and an art residency that gathers together architects, artists, activists, urbanists, film-makers, and curators to work collectively on the subjects of politics and architecture.

Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi received a Ph.D. in the History of Art and Archaeology from the New York University Institute of Fine Arts, and her historical and ethnographic research focuses on spatial politics, urbanisms, and modernist culture and discourses, drawing from primary research in East Africa and South Asia. Siddiqi is working on two book projects, Architecture of Humanitarianism: The Dadaab Refugee Camps and Emergency Urbanism in History and Vocal Instruments: Minnette De Silva and an Asian Modern Architecture. Siddiqi is a fellow at the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University and will be joining the faculty of Barnard College in 2018.

Professor Mabel O. Wilson teaches architectural design and history/theory courses at Columbia GSAPP. She is also appointed as Associate Director at the Institute for Research in African American Studies and co-directs Global Africa Lab. Her design and scholarly research investigates space, politics and cultural memory in black America; race and modern architecture; new technologies and the social production of space; and visual culture in contemporary art, film and new media.

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