Northwestern’s Interdisciplinary Strength Shines at Architecture Biennial

Chicago Architectural Biennial runs Sept. 16, 2017 through Jan. 7, 2018

EVANSTON, Ill. — When the Chicago Architecture Biennial kicks off Sept. 16, Northwestern University’s strengths in interdisciplinary study, global research and collaboration will be on full display.

From a large-scale art installation to lectures by faculty and internationally-renowned guest artists, all programs will focus on the Biennial’s theme “Make New History.”

The 2017 Biennial will be open to the public and on view from Sept. 16, 2017 through Jan. 7, 2018. A wide range of performances, talks, forums and film screenings will be held at various location throughout the Chicago area, including the Northwestern Evanston campus. A full calendar of events is available on the Chicago Architecture Biennial website.

The Biennial theme resonates strongly for Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, professor of art theory and practice at Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

“Making new history is a cultural practice that involves more than the artist or the architect. It is a social movement driven by hopes and fears of citizens, wherein one either defends history as memorial or critiques the context of that commemoration. Much is at stake here. You have only to consider the recent events centering around a bronze statue in Charlottesville,” Manglano-Ovalle said.

A specialist on architectural intervention, Manglano-Ovalle was invited to present a large-scale sculptural installation at the Chicago Cultural Center. His work investigates how extraordinary forces and systems, both natural and man-made, perpetually reshape our world and challenge our notions of the political and the cultural.

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Jesús Escobar, Harold H. and Virginia Anderson Chair, Department of Art History says it is important that Northwestern participates in the Biennial as a leading cultural player in Chicago.

“We have a tradition of architectural historians on the faculty who have contributed significant scholarship on the built environment of Chicago and the impact of Chicago design in the U.S. and beyond. Northwestern architectural historians also write about cities across time and the urban experience, which is an important theme for the Biennial,” Escobar said.

The Department of Art History will present a lecture by Jean-Louis Cohen, a history of architecture professor at NYU, as part of the department’s Elizabeth and Todd Warnock Lecture Series.

The Block Museum of Art is the venue for Cohen’s lecture as well as the presenter of a major Architecture Biennial lecture from leading Mexican contemporary artist and architectural innovator Abraham Cruzvillegas. Cruzvillegas draws inspiration from the improvised building materials and techniques of Latin America. At the Block, the artist will discuss his series “The Water Trilogy,” focusing on urban water shortages. The lecture is co-presented by the Block Museum of Art, the Department of Art Theory and Practice and the McCormick School of Engineering. 

Abrham Cruzvillegas, Installation views of The Autoconstrucción Suites, 2013, dimensions variable, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis.

“Architecture is by its very nature interdisciplinary, encompassing art and design, material and environmental sciences, sociology and psychology. The Chicago Architecture Biennial is a perfect vehicle for Northwestern’s own commitment to teaching and learning across fields of study and will be a marvelous resource for our faculty and students taking this ‘Northwestern Direction,’ said Lisa Corrin, Ellen Philips Katz Director, Block Museum of Art.

David Van Zanten will speak at two Biennial events. The Mary Jane Crowe Professor in Art and Art History at Northwestern recently participated in a panel discussion on Chicago’s Picasso moderated by Patricia Stratton, Northwestern alumna and author of “The Chicago Picasso: A Point of Departure.

-Article by Stephanie Kulke, Northwestern University Fine Arts Editor

View All Northwestern Events Related to Chicago Architecture Biennial

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