Once More with Feeling
The latest iteration of the Chicago Architecture Biennial is not a place, it’s a direction. Who knows where it’s going?
A truism made the rounds a few years ago: Utopia is not a place, it’s a direction. It’s a portmanteau of the translation of utopia as “no place” and a memeable quote about happiness, circulated in the early years of the Obama administration when hope and change carried an optimistic currency. The phrase popped into my head during opening remarks for the Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) in early November. Now in its fifth cycle, the biennial was pushed back from the usual September date for a number of reasons, but most evident was that the exhibition, This is a Rehearsal, just wasn’t ready.
Chicago leadership took the podium (or in the case of Rahm Emanuel, former Chicago mayor and CAB father figure, a video from Tokyo), followed by the artistic directors. Each hanging on the transformative properties of the word rehearsal, until I stopped counting the number of times it was men…