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Unlearning Geographies - 2019 Chicago Biennial

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You are warmly invited to the ninth event in the Architectures of the New Curatorial lecture series.

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Unlearning Geographies - a talk given by the curatorial team of the 2019 Chicago Architectural Biennial: Yesomi Umolu, Sepake Angiama and Paulo Tavares.

Followed by a conversation with the audience and special guests.

Yesomi Umolu is the new Director of Curatorial Affairs and Public Practice at the Serpentine Galleries and was Artistic Director of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. Sepake Angiama is the Artistic Director of the Institute for International Visual Arts in London and was co-curator at the Chicago Biennial. Paulo Tavares is Professor in the School of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Brasilia and was also co-curator at the Chicago Biennial.

Full speaker biographies

As well as her role at the Serpentine Galleries, Yesomi Umolu is also currently Director and Curator, Logan Center Exhibitions at the University of Chicago, where she leads an ambitious programme of international contemporary art. Umolu also teaches courses in contemporary visual art and spatial practices as lecturer in the humanities division. For the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, she oversaw a critically-acclaimed curatorial and community programme. She has also held curatorial positions at the MSU Broad Museum, Walker Art Center, and Manifesta 8, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art. She has worked on key solo exhibitions and commissioned projects with Assemble, Ursula Biemann, Paulo Tavares, John Akomfrah, Mike Cloud, Mariana Castillo Deball, Kapwani Kiwanga, Candice Lin, Harold Mendez, Camille Norment, Karthik Pandian and Andros Zins-Browne, among others. She has edited and contributed to numerous publications and is also a 2016 recipient of the prestigious Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts Curatorial Fellowship.

Sepake Angiama is an educator and curator whose interest lies between critical, discursive education practices and the social framework. She is currently the Artistic Director of the Institute for International Visual Arts in London. Previously, she was the Head of Education for documenta 14; Director of Education for Manifesta 10 in Saint Petersburg, Russia; Curator of Public Programmes at Turner Contemporary in Margate, UK; Public Programmes Coordinator at the Hayward Gallery, London and co-curator at the 2019 Chicago Architectural Biennial. She has developed education programmes for a number of leading international institutions, including Tate Modern & Hayward Gallery, London. She was recently a Fellow at BAK, Utrecht (basis voor actuele kunst), undertaking research on science fiction, modernist architecture, and intersectional feminism. Sepake earned her MA in curating contemporary art at the RCA where she received the Monique Beudert Award for her exhibition project.

Paulo Tavares is an architect based in Brasília. He is Professor at the Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo, University of Brasília. His work has been featured at the Oslo Architecture Triennial and the Istanbul Design Biennial. His design and pedagogic practice spans different territories, social geographies and media. He created the agency autonoma (2017), a platform dedicated to urban research and intervention. Tavares is a long-term collaborator of Forensic Architecture and co-curator of the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

Architectures of the New Curatorial - the new lecture series from School of Architecture Research

This series, which launched earlier this term, has been initiated and organised by PhD students Eleni Han and Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa with the support of Ines Weizman, Head of the PhD Programme in the School.

Speakers are invited to reflect on the recent challenges to curatorial practices, particularly concerning an arguably new kind of architecture for research that has gained urgency during the recent pandemic. On the one hand, the pandemic revealed even further the systemic inequality intersecting multiple layers of society, but also affecting the concept of the museum and exhibition-making platforms. On the other hand, the conceptualisation of the exhibition space expanded hastily to the digital. This lecture series aims to reflect on these “architectures of the new curatorial”, inviting curators, architects and researchers that have recently produced exhibitions, or are developing work concerned with the intersectional and transnational politics of their research as a form of counter-institution, as well as how they engage the changing relation between analogue space and digital media. This lecture series looks to the practice of curating as research as a way to build new understandings of institutions, while also destabilising existing established ones.

The lectures and conversations will discuss three strands of questions: One is looking at current museum practices that address their problematic histories and institutional forms and protocols. For some institutions, it has meant a process of collective reckoning that questions their legacies, the financing of their buildings and governing structures, their endowed chairs celebrating histories of oppression, or their exhibition practices perpetuating gendered and racial discrimination. The second is looking at models of new curatorial research in architecture that helps engender feminist, anti-racist, decolonial modes of counter-institutional practices. Looking at these questions with a focus on their architectures and temporality, the conversations in this series will look at concepts of research that aim to expand their cooperation with local partners and alternative constituencies to go beyond the actual event of an exhibition. The third is looking at the potentials of digital media and exhibition design to connect new publics and ideas. It will look at what is gained and what is lost in that translation, in the politics of these technologies, as well as how conditions of precarity and exploitation are reframed and transformed when migrating to digital.

This series was created by Eleni Han, Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa with support from Ines Weizman.

Eleni Han is a PhD researcher at the Royal College of Art’s School of Architecture, focusing on the relationship between architecture, urbanism and photography. Eleni trained as an architect and engineer at the University of Thessaly in Greece and holds a second master’s degree in Architectural Design from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design. She is an architect and educator in London with a particular interest in curating and exhibition design. Together with Guillermo Ruiz she is leading the research project Curating as Research, creating a network of researchers and curators around the world and investigating the possibilities of interdisciplinary research.

Guillermo Ruiz de Teresa is an architect and urban researcher whose work focuses on the intersection of space, the state and power. He is based in London, where he is a Stavros Niarchos PhD researcher at the Royal College of Art’s School of Architecture. He trained as an architect at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London and Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, and received a Master in Design Studies from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

Ines Weizman is the head of the PhD programme at the Royal College of Art’s School of Architecture. She is the founding director of the Centre for Documentary Architecture (CDA). In addition to numerous books and publications, Weizman has set up exhibitions and installations such as Repeat Yourself: Loos, Law, and the Culture of the Copy, exhibited at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale and in 2013 at the Architecture Centre in Vienna and the Buell Center at Columbia University, New York. Her other research and exhibition projects include Celltexts: Books and Other Works Produced in Prison (2008, with Eyal Weizman), first exhibited at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin and The Matter of Data (2019), which was shown in Weimar, Tel Aviv-Yafo and Berlin.

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