Artists: Doug Garofalo, Catherine Ingraham, Mark Linder, Greg Lynn, Eva Maddox, Stephen Perrella, Mark Rakatansky, Robert Somol, Maria Whiteman, and Lily Zand
Architexturally Speaking, curated by Stanley Tigerman, director of UIC’s School of Architecture, provides an opportunity for Gallery 400 to showcase the work of ten UIC faculty members who create their works at the crossroads of architecture and language. The contributors include three assistant professors, six adjunct faculty, and one visiting critic; four women and six men; three who build now, five who might build later, and two who may never build; three PhDs, six Ivy League pedigrees; two who edit, six who write; and none from Chicago. Despite their disparate backgrounds, however, all ten are obsessed with the conjunction between writing and architecture, all are committed teachers, all create work paradigmatic for students, all are near the top of his or her multivalent game(s). Collectively they represent the trajectory that UIC's School of Architecture has taken. They were "the best of breed" of a new day dawning on architecture/architexture. In Architexturally Speaking, they are called upon to interact/interlace/intersect one with the other, and the other, and the other.
This is a time of collaboration—not competition. The spirited production—and teaching—of these ten young-to-middling talented women and men is crucial in a time delimited more by need then by desire. Realizing the mandate for an architectural Hippocratic oath, the ethical conduct of each and every one of these generously endowed souls causes a reconsideration of our otherwise myopic, and too often willful, behavior. This modest exhibition, for all its enthusiasms, tells us more about what we have to do to fulfill our obligations not to our discipline, certainly not to our profession, but to our humanity. The interaction/interface/intersection on display is inevitably a small-scale version of our larger need to interact/interface/intersect with each other individually as well as collectively.
Our culture maintains its uncertainty about the individual versus the collective, the value of ethnic/racial/religious/gender/diversity versus the benefits of "the melting pot." There is a refreshing quality attached to that uncertainty. It is also naive. Our architects and teachers are all responsible for not only reflecting "the will of the epoch," but also pointing to "a better way.” The generation that these ten represent understands the difficulties connected with the disparity of these challenges, but the exhibited artists do not see those challenges as mutually exclusive.
This gallery, then, is not only in the city, but it is also about the city. The nomadic squatters here now in this hall obligate themselves to confront/contend with each other, even as their initiative drives them to proceed along each and every career path. Their success and/or failure here is a metaphor, like it or not, of their ability to deal with mutual exclusivity rooted in the individual versus the collective. Their willingness to place themselves in such a dangerous situation is a testimony to their courage, and it will take courage to deal with our explosive society both as an architect and as a teacher. Such is the need for an architectural Hippocratic oath, without which we luxuriate in our self-removal from responsibility for contending with the disjunctions of our age.