Mabel O. Wilson: Studio&: A Black Study
Mabel O. Wilson, is the Nancy and George E. Rupp Professor in Architecture and also a professor in African American and African Diasporic Studies at Columbia University. She also serves as the Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies and co-directs Global Africa Lab. With her practice Studio &, she is a collaborator in the architectural team that recently completed the Memorial to Enslaved African American Laborers at the University of Virginia. She’s a founding member of Who Builds Your Architecture? (WBYA?) a collective that advocates for fair labor practices on building sites worldwide. She has authored Begin with the Past: Building the National Museum of African American History and Culture (2017) and Negro Building: African Americans in the World of Fairs and Museums (2012). She co-edited with Irene Cheng and Charles Davis the recently published volume Race and Modern Architecture: From the Enlightenment to Today (2020). For MoMA, she is co-curator of the forthcoming exhibition Reconstructions: Blackness and Architecture in America.
The “art of building,” that is Architecture emerges concurrent with Europe’s colonial misadventures in Asia, Africa and the Americas. Modernity builds its superior “culture,” with its forms, aesthetics, and practices, above and beyond the primitive, savage, barbarous, backward, folk, and the racial other. If as poet Fred Moten posits “study is what you do with other people. It’s talking and walking around with other people, working, dancing, suffering, some irreducible convergence of all three, held under the name of speculative practice,” then the body of work—writings, projects, exhibitions and performances—by Mabel O. Wilson and her transdisciplinary practice Studio& asks: can the practice of architecture become a “Black study”?