Moderated by Jeffrey Hogrefe and Scott Ruff
If the African American experience emerges from the structure of slavery, what does architecture have to say to that experience, and what can the formerly enslaved say to an architecture whose primary purpose is to fortify the state? This is a question that we are asking again in response to the escalation of state violence toward people of color, which is taking place at the same time as the emergence of a Black aesthetic that has resulted in the Museum of African American History in Washington, DC.
The “In Search of African American Space” anthology centers on the work of architects Yolande Daniels, Rodney Leon, and Scott Ruff, whose practices have led them to search for African American space in many different forms, and on the work of visual theorists Radiclani Clytus and Ann Holder and performance artist Marisa Williamson, who have mined the topic for new ways of viewing the emerging post slavery subject. The contributions in the anthology were taken from a symposium that was held at Pratt Institute to coincide with a studio taught by Frederick Biehle on the Underground Railroad. The anthology highlights the importance of the Underground Railroad in defining a conceptual space that still has resonances in the ongoingness of the African American experience of surveillance, enclosure, fugitivity, and stasis that has been inherited from slavery and abolition and mapped into the present in horrific new forms of criminalization of blackness.
The colloquium will address the process of turning a symposium into an anthology within the specific requirements of the important and sensitive topic.
Jeffrey Hogrefe is Associate Professor, Humanities and Media Studies/Architecture at Pratt Institute.
Scott Ruff is Visiting Associate Professor of Architecture at Pratt Institute.
Jason Compere is a Pratt Undergraduate Architecture student.
Joe Mendoza is a Pratt Undergraduate Architecture alumnus.
Massi Surratt is a Pratt Undergraduate Architecture student.