Seven projects explore how architecture can respond to the complex meanings of citizenship today; on view February 15 - April 27, 2019

(CHICAGO, IL — December 4, 2018) — Dimensions of Citizenship: Architecture and Belonging from the Body to the Cosmos, the official U.S. entry at the recently-concluded 16th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, will be on view for the first time in the United States at Wrightwood 659, a new art space located at 659 W. Wrightwood Avenue in Chicago, from February 15 through April 27, 2019.  Devoted to exploring the notion of citizenship today and the potential role of architecture and design in creating spaces for it, Dimensions of Citizenship comprises seven unique installations, each created by a transdisciplinary team of architects and designers. Commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and The University of Chicago (UChicago) on behalf of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the U.S. presentation of Dimensions of Citizenship on view at Wrightwood 659 in Chicago is made possible by Alphawood Foundation Chicago. The exhibition will be accompanied by a range of public programs exploring citizenship and belonging, including talks, performances, workshops, and engagement with local partners (to be announced shortly).

Lisa Cavanaugh, Director, Wrightwood 659 notes, “Dimensions of Citizenship eloquently embodies Wrightwood 659’s dual focus: on architecture and on art that engages with the pressing issues of our day. It would be difficult to think of a more urgent and timely issue than what it means to be a citizen. We hope that this exhibition will provoke visitors to think about multiple aspects of citizenship and how architects, designers, and artists might respond to them. We are grateful to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago for enabling us to present this important exhibition.”

Exhibition curators are: Niall Atkinson, Associate Professor in the Department of Art History and the College at 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; Mimi Zeiger, independent critic, editor, curator, and educator; and associate curator Iker Gil, lecturer in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects at SAIC.

To create Dimensions of Citizenship, the curators asked each of the seven transdisciplinary teams to consider what it means to be a citizen today, when conventional notions of citizenship are being simultaneously questioned and expanded. The teams are: 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 Columbia Center for Spatial Research; Keller Easterling with MANY; and Design Earth. 

Each of the works in Dimensions of Citizenship grapples with the potential meanings and architectural implications of citizenship at a different scale: from a project focused on the Citizen, to an exploration of Civitas, with its implications of shared purpose and responsibility, through Region, Nation, Globe, Network, and, finally, Cosmos. The resulting works use design to address a diversity of issues, including the meaning of “home,” the right to public space, the uses of civic monuments, the dynamics of borderlands, and the conditions of global migration, among others. What is ultimately revealed is the need for architecture and design to respond to and shape spaces of citizenship at all scales, today and in the future. (See below for brief descriptions of the seven installations.)

A suite of film and video works in the “Transit Screening Lounge” will look at the migratory flows, blurry edges, and transgressive acts in-between the various architectures of belonging. Filmmakers include Frances Bodomo, Mandana Moghaddam, Marissa Lee Benedict and David Rueter, and Liam Young.

SAIC President Elissa Tenny said, “I am so excited to bring this crucial exploration of citizenship to the United States. During its welcomed reception in the international showcase of the Venice Biennale, Dimensions of Citizenship spoke to our global imagination about the ways in which the built environment affects the politics of belonging. While the exhibition’s focus won’t change in Chicago, it will be an important showcase for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and The University of Chicago, who realized the exhibition together, to enact this important conversation with our campus communities and neighbors throughout the city.”

“The arts at The University of Chicago embrace a commitment to experimental scholarship with global impact and engagement with distinctive architecture,” said Robert J. Zimmer, president of The University of Chicago. “La Biennale di Venezia provided an opportunity to collaborate with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on an exhibition that presents the American architectural imagination at its best and dramatizes how that imagination connects to the question of citizenship, a question of urgency around the globe.” 

Zimmer added, “We are grateful for the collaboration and philanthropic support that have made it possible to bring this exhibition to additional audiences in Chicago.” 

Additional information, texts produced by editorial partner e-flux Architecture, and previous programming is available at: http://dimensionsofcitizenship.org

Dimensions of Citizenship is sponsored in Chicago by the Alphawood Foundation in collaboration with the School of the Art Institute and The University of Chicago. 




The 16th International Architecture Exhibition, titled FREESPACE, opened May 26 in Venice, Italy, and was on view through November 25, 2018. With the aim of promoting the ‘desire’ of architecture, Venice Bienniale President Paolo Baratta explained that this edition, curated by Grafton Architects’ Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, focuses on ‘the question of the free space that can be generated when a project is inspired by generosity.’  FREESPACE included 71 international participants; the U.S. Pavilion was funded in part by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), which builds relations between people of the United States and the people of other countries through academic, cultural, sports, and professional exchange programs, as well as public-private partnerships.



Alphawood Foundation Chicago is a private a grant-making foundation committed primarily to advocacy, architecture and preservation, arts and arts education, promotion and protection of the rights of LGBT persons and people living with HIV/AIDS, and other human and civil rights. The Foundation was lead donor to Louis Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island, in New York City, and spearheaded the renovation of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois.  Its affiliate, Alphawood Exhibitions, brings socially engaged artworks to the people of Chicago. Past exhibitions include Ai Weiwei’s Trace (2018); Art AIDS America (2016–17); and Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties (2017).


Wrightwood 659 opened on October 12, 2018, at 659 West Wrightwood Avenue, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, who transformed a 1920s building with his signature concrete forms and poetic treatment of natural light, the new space is devoted to exhibitions of architecture and socially engaged art. The space was inaugurated with the exhibition Ando and Le Corbusier: Masters of Architecture, October 12–December 15, 2018.



For more than 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers, and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program consistently ranking among the top programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries, and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate, and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alumni and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, Jeff Koons, and LeRoy Neiman.



The University of Chicago (UChicago) is a leading academic and research institution that has driven new ways of thinking since its founding in 1890. As an intellectual destination, the University draws scholars and students from around the world to its home in Hyde Park and campuses around the globe. The University provides a distinctive educational experience, empowering individuals to challenge conventional chinking and pursue research that produces new understanding and breakthroughs with global impact. At the University, UChicago Arts, which includes nearly 100 arts organizations, initiatives, and academic programs, brings together the efforts of students, faculty, artists, and community partners to infuse creativity throughout the intellectual life on campus while solidifying the University's role as a cultural destination and resource on Chicago's South Side.



Future exhibitions at Wrightwood 659 will include a presentation opening May 22, 2019 on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion, and an exhibition devoted to Japanese painter Tetsuya Ishida (1973–2005), organized in collaboration with the Museo Reina Sofia, in Madrid, on view at Wrightwood 659 opening October 3, 2019.  In spring 2020 Wrightwood 659 will present Allure of Matter, a major exhibition of contemporary experimental art in China, presented in partnership with the Smart Museum of Art at The University of Chicago. The exhibition is being organized by renowned Chinese art historian and consulting curator at the Smart Museum of Art, Wu Hung.


Admission for all Wrightwood 659 exhibitions is free of charge and available by online reservation only: https://tickets.wrightwood659.org/events. Information on ticketing for Dimensions of Citizenship will be available closer to the opening date. For more information on Dimensions of Citizenship at Wrightwood 659 please visit https://wrightwood659.org/  Public Information: info@wrightwood659.org



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