Blackness, as both a conceptual orientation as well as a way of thinking through living, is embedded within the built environment while also incontrovertibly linked to histories of systems through which oppression and segregation were designed. The effects of systemic, structural racism for centuries established the means by which anti-Black sentiment was not only enforced through architecture and the landscape but also widely adopted at all scales of development, including education, medicine, museums, infrastructure, industry and housing throughout the United States.
Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America, co-curated with Mabel O. Wilson, set to open in February 2021 at The Museum of Modern Art, will be the first exhibition for which Black and African Diasporic architects, artists and designers will be the sole focus of a show that will observe, question and speak to the celebration of Black Life rather than excavating such histories of disenfranchisement, violence and despair. Discussing the ten commissioned projects of The Black Reconstruction Collective, join Associate Curator Sean Anderson for a conversation about the exhibition and its ambitions with a response from Assistant Professor Sekou Cooke, one of the exhibition’s participants.
Sean Anderson is Associate Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at The Museum of Modern Art. He has practiced as an architect and taught in Afghanistan, Australia, India, Italy, Morocco, Sri Lanka and the U.A.E. His second book, In-Visible Colonies: Modern Architecture and its Representation in Colonial Eritrea (2015) was nominated for an AIFC Book Prize in Non-Fiction. Earlier this year, he curated the exhibition On Muzharul Islam: Surfacing Intention at the Dhaka Art Summit. At MoMA, he has organized the exhibitions Insecurities: Tracing Displacement and Shelter (2016-17), Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, 1959-89 (2017-18) as well as collaborative collection displays including Surrounds (2019), Inner and Outer Space (2019-20) and Building Citizens (Present). Sean manages the Young Architects Program (YAP) and the Issues in Contemporary Architecture series, with the next exhibition opening in February 2021 and its associated Field Guide organized with Mabel O. Wilson, Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America.