Laboratory for Suburbia is a paradigm-shifting art and design project addressing the political possibilities of American suburbs.
In the last decade, suburbia has emerged as an urgent site of cultural, political, and spatial contestation—arguably the defining national geography. The fields of art and design, however, have largely failed to engage this critical space, remaining oriented instead toward cosmopolitan destination sites and inner-city creative placemaking. Laboratory for Suburbia invites artists and architects to step into this gap.
What modes of artistic intervention are possible in landscapes of privatization and dispersal? What publics can be assembled in the complex spaces of 21st-century suburbia? How do anti-suburban cultural tropes and disciplinary biases impede the critical imagination? How has a century of suburbanization recomposed not only space, but also politics and subjectivity?
A think tank for critical suburban practice, Laboratory for Suburbia is planned to unfold over the next several years, moving from a phase of discussion and public research toward a culminating publication and other outcomes.
ABOUT THE SPRAWL SESSIONS
The project’s early phase is anchored by a series of "sprawl sessions"—public exchanges considering strategies for site-specific art and tactical design in the complex spaces of 21st-century suburbia.
Each of these online discussions address different topics within that frame, unfolding in longform conversations that move away from the standard panel format. With numerous invited participants and space for an audience of invested practitioners and scholars to engage in dialogue, the intention is not to offer authoritative statements on suburban art and design practice but to open up questions about it, not to rush to fill the gap in practice at the heart of the project but to publicly inhabit it. Each session will be livestreamed and made available as an archival video for asynchronous viewing.
Laboratory for Suburbia is organized by
The Luminary Team
James McAnally & Kalaija Mallery
Divided City Grant Team
Derek Hoeferlin, Patty Heyda & Ila Sheren
Maddy Angstreich & Natalia Oledzka
With the public participation of
Emily Bryan, Jess DeAngelo, Eric Gottesman, Walter Johnson, Keith Krumwiede, Sarah Paulsen, Damon Rich, Bryony Roberts, Dread Scott, Jae Shin, lauren woods
Special thanks to
Michael Allen, Haley Evans, Lillian Gardner, Esther Neff, Tila Neguse, Lee Broughton, Jesse Vogler, Richard McCoy, Katherine Simóne Reynolds, Rebecca Uchill, Mimi Zeiger, Jean Allman, Lisa Bulawsky, Carmon Colangelo, Adrienne Davis, Liz Kramer, Bruce Lindsey, Tim Portlock, Heather Woofter, Anna Leavey, Meridith McKinley, Susan Trautman, Roseanne Weiss, Michael Behle, Glenn Burleigh, Juan William Chavez, Irene Compadre, Damon Davis, Kahlil Robert Irving, Jenny Price, Tasha Burton, Jesi Ceruti, Shabez Jamal, Sukanya Mani, Aaron Owens, Emma Riley, Edo Rosenblith, Allana Ross, Elizabeth Salley, Amanda Colón-Smith, Alison Ferring, Nicole Greer, Chris Hansen, Dayna Kriz, Grace Kyung, De Nichols, Kiku Obata, Treasure Shields Redmond, Lauren Ross, Buzz Spector, Elizabeth Tucker, Dana Turkovic, Darian Wigfall, Brea Youngblood
Laboratory for Suburbia is a project of The Luminary and presented by PNC Arts Alive!, The Crawford Taylor Foundation, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), and The Divided City, an urban humanities initiative funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a joint project of the Center for the Humanities and the Sam Fox School, College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design at Washington University in St. Louis.