Blackness and Spatial Matters is part of our contemporary reflections series The Art of Living: Bodily Experiences of Space, Curated by Kristen J. Owens

The Art of Living: Bodily Experiences of Space is a four-part contemporary reflections series organized in conjunction with the exhibition Eileen Gray and inspired by the ways in which Gray’s architectural and interior designs were created with the individual’s bodily experience of the space in mind.

Blackness and Spatial Matters, a performance lecture by Mario Gooden in collaboration with artist Jonathan Gonzalez, is an interdisciplinary performance that explores the dark spaces of architecture from the cultural topographies of water to the topological conditions of deep space. Enacting feminist theorist Tina Campt’s concept of “practicing refusal”, this multi-media performance juxtaposes and enmeshes sound, visual art, choreography, video, architecture, film, and spoken word to create radical modalities of witnessing and architectural representation that “refuse authoritative forms of visuality which function to refuse blackness itself.” The performance is an exploration of architecture and the black ontology of water from the ship hulls of the Middle Passage, to the segregated waters of public swimming pools and beaches during the Jim Crow era, to the contemporary conditions of forced migration due to climate change. —“They say our people were born on the water.”

His performance will conclude with a conversation between him and architecture historian Mabel O. Wilson.

Other Conversations in the series include:

Thursday, April 9
Queer Histories in Architecture
With Mariel Villeré and JD Sassaman

Thursday, May 14
Digital Art, Architecture, and the Body
With Alredo Salazar-Caro, Ashley Baccus-Clark, and Jacolby Sattewhite

Thursday, June 11
Designing Social/Cultural Spaces
Speakers to be announced.

Meet the Speakers:

Jonathan Gonzalez is an artist working at the intersections of performance, text, sculpture, and other time-based media from Queens, New York. González’s work speculates on the political utility of the “stage” as a method to interface with publics upon systems of liveness, objects, and economies of data that construct the built environment. Their works include: Not Total (homeschool PDX, Yale Union x Paragon Arts Gallery, 2019), Working on Water in collaboration with Mario Gooden (Columbia School of Architecture, 2019), h/S: Jonathan González (Ciccio Gallery, 2019), Maroonage: Elaborations on the Stage and Staying Alive (Contact Quarterly), Lucifer Landing I & II (MoMA PS1 x Abrons Arts Center, 2019), Collaborative Curiosity (Contemporaryand), and their upcoming publication, Liar Liar (53rd Press). Their curations include Sunday Service @ Knockdown Center and Movement Research Fall Festival: invisible material. Previously an LMCC Workspace Resident (2018-19), NARS Foundation AIR (2018), Jerome Foundation Fellow (2019), Mertz Gilmore Grantee (2018), Art Matters Fellow (2019), Shandaken Project/Governors Island AIR (2019-20), and Bessie-nominee for Outstanding Production (ZERO, Danspace Project, 2018) and Breakout Choreographer (2019).

Mario Gooden
is an Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Global Africa Lab at Columbia GSAPP and Principal at Huff + Gooden Architects. With Co-Director Mabel O. Wilson, the Global Africa Lab received an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Architecture in 2019. Gooden graduated magna cum laude from Clemson University in 1987 with a B.S. in Design and received a Masters of Architecture degree from Columbia University in 1990 and is a recipient of the McKim Prize. His practice engages the cultural landscape and the intersectionality of architecture, race, gender, sexuality, and technology. Gooden’s performance Black Holes Ain’t So Black was presented at the Museum of Modern Art’s Pop Rally Studio Visit: Practice as Ritual in 2018 and his performance The Motion of Light in Water was presented at the Princeton University BIM Incubator in 2019. Gooden’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including the International Exhibition of Architecture Biennale in Venice, Italy, Architekturmuseum der TU Mūnchen, the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAi), Storefront for Art and Architecture, the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, and the Municipal Arts Society in New York. He is a 2012 NEA Fellow and a MacDowell Colony Fellow. Gooden is the author of Dark Space: Architecture, Representation, Black Identity (Columbia University Press, 2016).

Mabel O. Wilson is the Nancy and George Rupp Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, a Professor in African American and African Diasporic Studies, and the Associate Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS) at Columbia University. At GSAPP she co-directs the Global Africa Lab. Wilson joined the faculty of Columbia in 2007 and she has held fulltime and visiting appointments at UC Berkeley, California College of the Arts, Princeton University, Ohio State University and the University of Kentucky. She is trained in Architecture and American Studies, two fields that inform her scholarship, curatorial projects, art works and design projects. Through her transdisciplinary practice Studio &, Wilson makes visible and legible the ways that anti-black racism shapes the built environment along with the ways that blackness creates spaces of imagination, refusal and desire. Her research investigates space, politics and cultural memory in black America; race and modern architecture; new technologies and the social production of space; and visual culture in contemporary art, media and film.