• Pyramidion
    Dream The Combine (Tom Carruthers and Jennifer Newsom)
    Akili Tommasino
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    Nov 12, 2024 to Feb 19, 2025
    Dream The Combine:
    Tom Carruthers &
    Jennifer Newsom

Dream The Combine, “Pyramidion,” 2024. Digital rendering of proposed installation. Courtesy Dream The Combine (Tom Carruthers and Jennifer Newsom)

Pyramidion—the name of the capstone on a pyramid or obelisk representing the primordial mound Benben—is an inverted tapering form that references ancient Egyptian structures. Reflections on travels to Egypt and investigations in earlier works such as Make It Rain (2014) and Speakers’ Corner (2018) influenced this new site-oriented installation which explores relationships between image, body, and generational memory. The work is in dialogue with Egyptian pyramids, obelisks, pylons, and other tapered, body-like forms, whose directional shapes and strong metaphoric resonances mark the passage of time, commemorate life and death, and communicate power. Obelisks, in particular, have been appropriated urbanistically to order space with a center that can never be occupied. In that way, they are both panopticon and blind spot, all-seeing and hidden from view. Included in the exhibition Flight Into Egypt: African-American Artists and Ancient Egypt 1876–Now, curated by Akili Tommasino at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a landmark exhibition examining the legacy of Egypt in aesthetic practices over nearly 150 years, this work highlights the expansive ways Egypt—as a place and an idea—has existed in the architectural imagination.

Jennifer Newsom and Tom Carruthers are architects, artists, and cofounders of Dream The Combine, based in Ithaca, New York. They produce installations that explore metaphor, imaginary environments, and perceptual uncertainties at the boundary between real and illusory space. Their critiques often respond to the literal and sociopolitical dimensions of sites to destabilize our known understanding of the world. Dream The Combine were named a 2023 Emerging Voice by The Architectural League, 2022–23 Rome Prize Fellows in Architecture by the American Academy in Rome, 2022 Fellows in Architecture and Design by United States Artists, 2021 Visual Artist Fellows by the McKnight Foundation, 2020–21 J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize winners by Landmark Columbus, 2018 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program winners by The Museum of Modern Art, and have been Artist/Architects-in-Residence at Art Omi, Franconia Sculpture Park, and MASS MoCA. Their work has been exhibited at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition—La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, curated by Lesley Lokko (2023); the Graham Foundation, Chicago, for CAB 5: This is a Rehearsal, part of the fifth edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB), curated by The Floating Museum; The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, New York; MadArt Studio, Seattle; and sites in Rome, Lisbon, Vancouver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Columbus, Indiana. Their writing and interviews have appeared in Metropolis, MAS ContextLogArchitectural Design, Wallpaper, the Journal of Architectural Education, and Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America(MoMA, 2021). Newsom and Carruthers are both faculty at Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning and graduates of the Yale School of Architecture.