Dark Matter

a mixture of the unknown and the tangible - by Jennifer Newsom

Curating Race Curating Space at UMichigan

As a present to myself for completing my exams, I'm attending the Curating Race Curating Space conference at the University of Michigan this weekend. The event was planned by one of my mentors, Milton Curry, Associate Dean at Taubman College, UMichigan's architecture, planning, and urban design school. I'm excited not only to see some familiar faces (Teman, Darell, Hansy), but also to reengage with dialogues critical of race and spatial production. I feel as though I'm getting back to myself a bit - this is an opportunity to formally revisit themes from Black Boxes, my Yale School of Architecture symposium. That event was 7 years ago, so I'm eager to hear Milton and the other speakers' current spin on this continually relevant topic. I will be attending with open ears & a sharp mind - watch this space for a recap!

For people in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area, please make an appearance!


From Taubman's website:

Curating Space Curating Race

A University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning / CriticalProductive Symposium

As the quandary of how to redevelop depopulated cities and suburbs becomes a central public policy debate, and as rampant population growth proceeds in megacities across the globe, exhibitions become key components of public engagement with architecture, urbanism, and their intersection with race. The University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning symposium Curating Race Curating Space will aim to solidify the role theory, literary imagination, and visual culture can play in architectural production – a production that has political, ethical, and social implications.

Participants will speak on the themes of theorizing race and space, representational practices, and siting discourse. Participants will interrogate design, curatorial and exhibition practices as they confront issues of race and the city, and a burgeoning diverse polity of museumgoers. Placing race studies within the crucible of architectural thought yields benefits to an entire discipline that is struggling with globality and coming to terms with the increasing problems of urbanity left in the wake of modernization. How can new theorizations of diasporic identity and migration influence architectural production? What is the projected value of aesthetic ideology in relation to dominant discourses of sustainability and technological efficiency? How can race studies in architecture deepen the affiliation between architecture and an imagined community?


November 12, 2011 9:00 A.M. – 4:30 P.M. University of Michigan Museum of Art Helmut Stern Auditorium 525 S. State St. Ann Arbor, MI

9 A.M. - Doors open and networking breakfast reception. Lunch will be provided to all registered participants. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required, but RSVP is requested. RSVP is required to attend lunch.

Launch Party: Critical Productive Journal

A reception and launch party will immediately follow the symposium, at Rackham Assembly Hall, 925 E. Washington St.. CriticalProductive V.1.1: Theoretic Action is a new biannual peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to architecture, urbanism and cultural theory.


9:30–9:45 AM OPENING REMARKS Milton S.F. Curry (Associate Dean, Taubman College; Editor & Publisher, CriticalProductive)

Title: The Project of Theory

9:45–11:30 AM THEORIZING RACE AND SPACE Madhu Dubey (Professor of English and African American Studies, University of Illinois at Chicago) Racial Geographies of Cyber-Futurism

Darell W. Fields (Lecturer of Architecture, University of California Berkeley) The Black Architecture Project: Artifacts and Community

Tobias Wofford (Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, History of Art, Johns Hopkins University) Framing Culture/Displaying Race: Traditional and Contemporary Art in the First World Festival of Negro Arts

Moderators: Peter Gilgen (Associate Professor of German Studies, Cornell University) Matthew Biro (Professor and Chair, History of Art, University of Michigan)

11:40 AM–1:00 PM REPRESENTATIONAL PRACTICES Hansy Better (Principal, Studio Luz Architects) Sites of In-Betweenness

Amanda Williams (Adjunct Associate Professor of Architecture, Illinois Institute of Technology; Artist, Chicago)

Moderators: Joan Kee (Assistant Professor of History of Art, University of Michigan) Teman Evans (Lecturer in Architecture, Taubman College)

2:00–3:40 PM SITES OF DISCOURSE Liz Ogbu (Lecturer in Architecture, California College of the Arts) Design for Social Impact: Linking platforms of advocacy and practice

Andres Lepik Loeb Fellow, Harvard Graduate School of Design) Changing the Paradigms: Social engagement in architecture and the role of exhibitions

Olympia Kazi (Executive Director, The Van Alen Institute; Visiting Asst. Professor, Pratt Institute)

Moderator: Keith Mitnick (Associate Professor of Architecture, Taubman College)

3:45–4:30 PM DISCUSSION / AUDIENCE Q+A Robert Fishman (Professor of Urban Planning, Taubman College) with Session Moderators
4:30–6:30 PM RECEPTION / LAUNCH PARTY for CriticalProductive V1.1:Theoretic Action