Today, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in Fine Arts announced that it will award a total of $462,800 to 63 individuals that "represent diverse lines of inquiry engaging original ideas that advance our understanding of the designed environment," according to the Chicago-based foundation. The funding will go toward projects, selected from more than 500 applicants worldwide, that range from art exhibitions, films, publications, public programs, and research projects, and are led by individuals from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, India, Israel, Italy, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
“The designed environment continues to be the center of timely, critical debates within art, culture, and society,” said Sarah Herda, director of the Graham Foundation, in a press release. “This year in particular, many of the funded projects are rooted in different forms of political engagement.”
A selection of 2019 winners is shown below (with descriptions provided by the Graham Foundation). The full list of winners can be viewed here.
Project: These Fragmentations Only Mean ... by Sara R. Harris and Jesse Lerner
Location: Los Angeles
Entrant Description: In the late 1980s, the artist Noah Purifoy retired from his position of many years on the California Arts Council and moved from Sacramento to a remote desert site just north of Joshua Tree National Park. There, over the last fifteen years of his life, he created a complex series of assemblage sculptures and precarious architectural constructions that sprawl over ten acres of the high desert land, administered by the Noah Purifoy Foundation. With the support of the Noah Purifoy Foundation, this remarkable site is at the center of this documentary project. Through the voices of people who knew the artist; Purifoy’s writings; archival audio, music, and images; and especially the artworks themselves, lit by the intense sun of the Mojave desert, this film explores not only the sculptor’s legacy, but also diverse issues involving North American history, racial politics, philosophy, and art’s potential as an instrument of social criticism and community building.
Project: The Responsive Environment: Design, Aesthetics, and the Human in the 1970s (University of Minnesota Press, 2020) by Larry D. Busbea
Location: Tuscon, Ariz.
Entrant Description: The Responsive Environment historicizes the emergence of new models of human-environment response in architecture, design, art, technology, media, and the sciences. Theories of subject formation, participatory aesthetics, and computational control are tracked through psychology, anthropology, media and critical theory, and through design disciplines and art practices that collectively gave rise to myriad proposals for responsive environments that could sense and react to changing inputs or user needs. New models of environmental perception, patterning, and interaction as elaborated by Gregory Bateson, Warren Brodey, James J. Gibson, Edward T. Hall, Wolf Hilbertz, Gyorgy Kepes, Marshall McLuhan, Nicholas Negroponte, Paolo Soleri, and others are examined. Despite their differences, these design thinkers were dedicated to the optimization or alteration of human environments as sensitive and conditioning apparatuses.
Project: Afrotecture (Re)Collection by Heather Hart
Location: New York
Entrant Description: This work is unearthing, interpreting, and constructing architectures for liminal spaces that emerge from the intersection of notable African American narratives, architectural form, and theory. What might happen if the balcony of the infamous Lorraine Hotel—the Memphis, TN, establishment where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968—was replicated in a gallery space? Heather Hart focuses on the translation between sites of historical record and the public; the public and her work; and the slippage, construction and communication that happens in between these. She wants her work to act as a translator in a new language between architectures and the public eye. Further, Hart wants to build work where the visitor’s physical perspective on their world changes as they interact, as a metaphor for one’s potential shift in perception and the power of architectures as a catalyst for reclamation or claiming of space. She is interested in not only creating participatory liminal space, but also in questioning dominant narratives and creating alternatives.
Project: Notes on Territory by Anna Martine Whitehead
Entrant Description: Notes on Territory brings together an array of research modalities to address the dialectical concerns: What is the prison; and What is the nature of freedom? Territory considers crosses and arches, walls and holes, as means of exploring the rich tradition of oppressed peoples' liberation practices. From didactic lecture and dance show, to multimedia library and community workshop, Territory presents varying points of entry to engage with its themes. At its core, the work offers movement as research, in kinship with transdisciplinary artist-philosophers such as Torkwase Dyson, Dawn Lundy Martin, and Renée Green; transdisciplinary scholars such as Simone Browne, Michelle M. Wright, and Katherine McKittrick; and freedom dreamer Harriet Jacobs.
Project: Showpiece: How Architecture Made Dubai by Todd Reisz
Entrant Description: Architecture provides the lens through which to examine Dubai and its emergence as one of the world’s most talked-about cities. It also bears the evidence that the city, far from being a gross aberration, grew according to prescribed rules of modernization. Enriched by an abundant catalogue of unpublished photographs, exclusive interviews, and archival documents, the book elucidates Dubai’s modernization from the mid-1950s until 1979. The main protagonist is British architect John Harris who–working alongside engineers, diplomats, and financiers–delivered key architectural projects, including the city’s first master plan and skyscraper. Harris’s designs for Dubai anchor the book's examination of how architecture interfaced with such urban-scale topics as hygiene, global migration, international standards, and business-class comfort. Pursued amidst constant pitch-making and deal-brokering for Dubai, architecture, through it all, emerges as a tactic of both calculated compromise and firm persistence.