2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial: anonymous histories

Photo © Iwan Baan
Photo © Iwan Baan
Photo © Iwan Baan
Photo © Iwan Baan
Photo © Iwan Baan
Architectural Photographers
Iwan Baan Photography

Exhibition during the first Chicago Architecture Biennial: The State of the Art of Architecture, October 3, 2015 – January 3, 2016

In the anonymous histories series, Baan treats the city of Chicago as a living, breathing entity. He was informed and influenced by Alvin Boyarsky’s collection of postcards of Chicago, mainly those presented in the 1970’s essay, Chicago a la Carte: The City as an Energy System. Addressing such themes as architecture, tourism, urban geography, industry, development and spectatorship, Baan revisits many of the sights and attractions that Boyarsky included in his essay.

Boyarsky writes that postcards revealed a miscellany of topographical information, the taste and sensibility of a period as well as a certain unconscious, regional pride. He commented that at times, they oozed with self-caricature, reflecting what was thought to be of interest to visitors, ultimately contributing to the process of city, region or nation branding.

Boyarsky’s concept of the city as an organism emerged during the 1960’s as a response to the increasingly complex interconnections of technology, communication, and history. He drew on his archive of historical postcards, newspaper clippings, and printed ephemera to trace a hidden history of Chicago’s built environment.

Much of his postcard collection represents Chicago’s tangible miracles of contemporary life. His collection displayed audacious feats of engineering of the industrial revolution such as grain elevators, slaughterhouses, bridges, canals and airports. Through them, Chicago was seen as a symbol of change and progress.

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Other Projects by Iwan Baan Photography

CCTV Headquarters
Beijing, China
Teshima Art Museum
Teshima, Japan
Hamburg, Germany
African Modernism – Architecture of Independence
Vernacular China
vernacular dwellings, China
Urban Aerials
Metropolitan Areas