• Columnar Disorder
    Germane Barnes
    Irene Sunwoo
    Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
    Sep 21, 2024 to Jan 27, 2025
    Germane Barnes

Germane Barnes, “Pantheon II,” 2023. Digital drawing on unique, Roman, recycled paper, cut and tiled through analog processes, 36 x 36 in. Courtesy the artist and Nina Johnson Gallery. Photo: Greg Carideo

This exhibition centers the underrecognized contributions and legacies of the African Diaspora in architectural history by interrogating the migration of North African building traditions across the Mediterranean and their appropriation in classical antiquity. Chicago-born, Miami-based architect Germane Barnes focuses on the most enduring principles of classical architecture, the columnar orders—specifically, the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders—which are each defined by a unique system of proportions, profiles, and ornament. Through the design of three new columnar orders, Barnes incisively and comprehensively “breaks” these foundational rules, which have permeated architectural production across the world for centuries, presenting this speculative project through a series of drawings and a site-specific installation. With this project, Barnes seeks to recast the canonical foundations of architecture through the lens of Blackness and in recognition of a long lineage of nonwhite constructors who have shaped the built environment since antiquity.

Germane Barnes received a bachelor’s in architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MArch from Woodbury University where he was awarded the Thesis Prize for his project Symbiotic Territories: Architectural Investigations of Race, Identity, and Community. Barnes’ research and design practice investigates the connection between architecture and identity. Mining architecture’s social and political agency, he examines how the built environment influences black domesticity. Currently, he is an associate professor and director of the Community Housing Identity Lab (CHIL) at University of Miami’s School of Architecture. He is the 2021 Harvard Graduate School of Design Wheelwright Prize winner, Rome Prize Fellow, and winner of the Architectural League Prize. His design and research contributions have been published and exhibited in several international institutions, most notably, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Pin-Up Magazine; The New York Times; Architect magazine; Design Miami/ Basel; Swiss Institute, New York; Metropolis magazine; Curbed; and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC, where he was identified as one of the future designers on the rise.