New York Times — “Creators of Architectural Exhibits Reach to the Cosmos for Inspiration”

May 24, 2018

“The Venice Architecture Biennale is known for corralling big thinking. And for this year’s presentation, the United States Pavilion is looking all the way to the cosmos.

The exhibition Dimensions of Citizenship was commissioned by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago, on behalf of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the United States Embassy in Rome.

It features seven installations that address the topic on levels ranging from the individual to the universe itself. ...

The Chicago-based architect Jeanne Gang and her colleagues used their travels for inspiration for Stone Stories: Civic Memory and Public Space in Memphis, Tennessee.

‘We’ve been working in a lot of cities, but one frequent stop, a place that’s going through changes, is Memphis,’ Ms. Gang said. ‘It made sense for us.’

As they worked on a waterfront revitalization plan there, they discovered a cobblestone landing on the Mississippi River that symbolized the city’s ‘contentious history,’ she said, referring to slavery and other inequality.

So they moved the actual stones, weighing up to 40 pounds each, for their Venice installation. It features an inclined plane of stones leading to a hand-drawn map of Memphis, and a film featuring interviews of residents who talk about their city.

‘The stones are portraits,’ Ms. Gang said. ‘It’s a different kind of memorial.’”

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Photo by Tom Harris, courtesy of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago

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