RECONSTRUCTIONS: Architecture and Blackness in America

02.27.2021 - 05.31.2021 | Mario Gooden and Huff + Gooden Architects exhibits The Refusal of Space in RECONSTRUCTIONS: Architecture and Blackness in America at the Museum of Modern Art. How does race structure America's cities? MoMA's first exhibition to explore the relationship between architecture and the spaces of African American and African diaspora communities presents 10 newly commissioned works by architects, designers, and artists that explore ways in which histories can be made visible and equity can be built.

Centuries of disenfranchisement and race-based violence have led to a built environment that is not only compromised but also, as the critic Ta-Nehisi Coates contends, "argues against the truth of who you are." These injustices are embedded in nearly every aspect of America's design-an inheritance of segregated neighborhoods, compromised infrastructures, environmental toxins, and unequal access to financial and educational institutions.

Each project in the exhibition proposes an intervention in one of 10 cities: from the front porches of Miami and the bayous of New Orleans to the freeways of Oakland and Syracuse. Reconstructions examines the intersections of anti-Black racism and Blackness within urban spaces as sites of resistance and refusal, attempting to repair what it means to be American.

Gooden's The Refusal of Space --- a "protest machine" and a multi-media mobile architecture incorporating sound, video, and projected photography to recall and enact the spatial action of protests, marches, and sit-ins in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. The machine also references the first Black-owned independent streetcar line in Nashville. Gooden's trolley spatializes acts of self-emancipation and how for Black people, liberation is a spatial practice. This turn on Foucault's axiom points to how liberation is an action necessitated by the oppressive forces of political institutions, infrastructures, and-crucially-their resultant spaces. Black people have thus made liberation a spatial practice throughout their existence across America.

The trolley includes the BNA Transcripts a glass mural mapping of the spatial choreographies, body movements, positions, and postures demonstrating the agility, transformability, and fluidity of the ways in which Black people have moved through space, negotiated the barriers of social, political, and economic landscapes. Other elements of the trolley include the Black Curtain, a veil of double-consciousness ever present to Black Americans and the Black Flag which disrupts the representational power of the Confederate Battle Flag whose modern display began as a response to the Civil Rights Movement in the South and the passage of federal Civil Rights legislation in the 1950s and 1960s. The Black Flag is a symbol of a new South that is now seeing a reverse migration of African Americans to metropolitan areas throughout the southern United States.

04.21.2021 | Mario Gooden presents Water Air Space-Time at UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design. At this present moment in history, the global social revolution and the reckoning Black, indigenous, and people of color with the forces of systemic oppression, Stephen Hawking's description of the "event horizon" takes on particular resonance. However, the fugitivity and futurity of a black hole is also evocative of the ways in which Black bodies have moved through space and manipulated space-time to create flows and spaces of liberation. The Blackness of a black hole is elusive and illegible; yet it produces a dark matter that transforms existence, knowledge, and culture.

Enacting feminist theorist Tina Campt's concept of "practicing refusal," Water Air Space-Time uses juxtaposition and collage of found footage; still images; and simultaneous performance to enact the spatial praxes of liberation of historic and contemporary Black life and architecture. 1:00PM PST / 4:00PM EST. Virtual Event.

04.11.2021 | Mario Gooden will present Black and Tan: The Woodson Museum and unveil the design for the new St. Petersburg, Florida museum at the AIA Tampa Bay. The design for the new museum along St. Petersburg's historic 22nd street corridor, like jazz music, acknowledges the ways African Americans have improvised new cultural expressions and creatively appropriated music, literature, and other art forms. This design is suggestive of the ways in which Black people have moved through space, negotiated the barriers of social, political, and economic landscapes to forge new ways of living and being free. April 11, 2021. 6:00 PM. Virtual Event - TBA

02.01.2021 | On the occasion of the ground-breaking exhibition RECONSTRUCTIONS: Architecture and Blackness in America at the Museum of Modern Art February 27 - May 31, 2021, Mario Gooden is featured in the special issue of PIN-UP 29 along with the Black Reconstruction Collective. The interview with by Drew Zeiba includes a special video portrait by artist David Hartt with music by King Britt presents Moksha Black. The special issue of PIN-UP is a production in partnership with Thom Browne. In the interview Gooden states "From a very young age I was always interested in the liberatory potential of space, subjectivity, and identity."

01.04.2021 | Mario Gooden is named the Portman Prize Studio Visiting Critic for Spring 2021 at Georgia Tech. The purpose of the Portman Prize and the Portman Visiting Critic Program is to foster design excellence and student creativity in the School of Architecture at Georgia Tech. Recognizing student accomplishment and excellence in the integration of technical considerations is a key constituent of the design process pursued through the Portman Prize. It is awarded through competition by a distinguished jury chaired by the Portman Visiting Critic who also participates over the semester as a roving design studio critic and public lecturer. Gooden will deliver a public lecture on January 27, 2021. 4:00 PM. Virtual Event.

12.15.2020 | Current Work: Walter Hood in conversation with Mario Gooden and Mabel Wilson. Hood and Gooden are currently collaborating on the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum in St. Petersburg, FL. They, along with Wilson, led Making History/Building Visions, a 2019 symposium organized by Gooden, discussing the future of the museum and the history of African Americans in St. Petersburg. Gooden, Hood, and Wilson are also working on the Clinton Church Restoration project in Great Barrington, MA, a heritage site and cultural community center dedicated to interpreting African American life and history in the Berkshires. The Architectural League. December 15, 2020. 7:00 PM. Virtual Event.

11.09.2020 | Majora Carter, Community as Corporation: Talent-Retention in Low-Status America. Response by Mario Gooden. Majora Carter is a real estate developer, urban revitalization strategy consultant, MacArthur Fellow and Peabody Award winning broadcaster. She is responsible for the creation and successful implementation of numerous economic development, technology, green-infrastructure projects, policies and job training & placement systems.

Carter combines her corporate consulting practice focused on talent-retention, and applies it to reducing Brain Drain in American low-status communities. She has firsthand experience pioneering sustainable economic development in one of America's most storied low-status communities: the South Bronx. Carter creates vision, strategies, and developments that transform properties in low-status communities into thriving mixed-use economic developments. Her approach harnesses capital flows resulting from American re-urbanization among all ages, races, and income levels, to help increase wealth-building opportunities across demographics left out of this historic financial tide change. Her work produces produce long term fiscal benefits for government and leading private real estate developments. November 9, 2020. 6:00 PM. Virtual Event.