Hero Image
A Conversation at the
Biennale Architettura 18th International Architecture Exhibition
Dele Adeyemo, Jennifer Newsom, & Jerome Haferd

May 20, 2023
“The Laboratory of the Future”
Curated by Lesley Lokko

Keywords: work, people, mangrove, geometries, talking, space, Blackness, rupture, Lagos, film, contending, horizons, lagoon, modernity, generative, creating, Indigenous, sand, Black, Ifa

Foreword by Jerome Haferd, September 2023

I had the pleasure of meeting up with participants Dele Adeyemo and Jennifer Newsom at the opening of the 18th Venice Architecture Biennale to talk about their respective contributions in situ. The Biennale is a convergence of threads, bringing together in physical space these two individuals, already in dialogue through the JAE Fellowship as Fellow (Dele) and Advocate (Jennifer). Their work and our conversation, situated within the geometric “Blackness” of the show, explores ideas of Black Geometry from different orientation points.

Dance of the Mangroves, Adeyemo’s work, and Afterimages by Newsom and her partner Tom Carruthers (Dream The Combine), reside within the Arsenale Exhibition Space. The Arsenale’s capacious former military facility—now a massive series of enfilade chambers draped in near darkness in many areas with works and projections floating in the void—will, I think, be remembered as the most powerful and clear statement of the “Black Biennale.”

Adeyemo’s piece can be found near the entrance, suspended in an eddy-like room within a cavernous black abyss that characterizes the opening rooms of the gallery. The work is finely crafted, mixed-media, and interactive, and can best be described as a divination table. The eccentric ellipse of the table’s “bowl” holds a thin layer of sand which receives a video projection of Nigerian shoal dwellers from above. The form feels simultaneously contemporary and yet laden with cultural lineage and practice. Passersby step up to the table and carefully spread the sand with a broom that Adeyemo has provided.

The physical installations serve as literal orientation points themselves; this interview took place partially in motion, while traversing the cavernous space of the Arsenale, passing numerous exhibits, and weaving a considerable distance to connect the two works and a single conversation. Newsom and Carruthers’ installation dwells deep in the Arsenale and emerges into view is a series of giant tubes and cables that thrust into view as one approaches, cascading out of relatively well-lit chamber walls, disorienting the viewer and casting shadows throughout the gallery—as if it is in motion. Though minimalist and restrained, there is a “hand” to the work that is subtle, developed, and particular.

Perhaps it is fitting that this is my first encounter with Adeyemo and his work—a theoretical research-heavy practice based in the ephemeralities of critical geography, but now approaching a sense of craft and abstraction—while I perceive and consider Newsom’s within the context of Dream The Combine’s lineage of projects: often muscular and structurally expressive as objects, but hiding a deeper interest in perception, movement, (Black) aesthetics of urbanity and rurality, and perhaps even diaspora. One lineage of work that is approaching a cultural expansiveness from a basis in minimalism and craft, and another beginning in the ephemerality of cultural experience, then distilling it into the making of a refined architectural object expanding. It is also fitting that these two practices meet here at this Biennale, which attempts to stitch together the ephemeral, the built, the diasporic, and the futuristic into a more complete and apt framing of architecture for the coming era.

Dele Adeyemo, Dance of the Mangroves, 2023

Dream The Combine, Afterimages, 2023

Jennifer Newsom: I just really love the tactility of what you’re doing—even just standing here and watching people interact with it. It has a kind of breath… I love seeing reflections in the water and the rippling of the image projected onto the sand. It’s really quite beautiful. Can you tell us a little bit about the film? Tell us what we’re looking at!

Dele Adeyemo: Yeah. So, in brief, the film the project is called a Dance of the Mangroves. It’s about showing the entangled lifeworlds, the spiritual, social, and ecological lifeworlds of a lagoon, at the heart of the megacity of Lagos. Lagos is known quite well now in popular culture through Afro beats and things like Nollywood. The emergence of Nigerian culture is bringing the megacity of Lagos to the forefront of people’s imaginations. But when people think of the megacity, they generally think of incredibly dense populated spaces and traffic, you know? And this film is really a portrait, like an attempt at a loving portrait of a community right in the center of the megacity, in a community called Oworonshoki.

And right at the center of the community is the lagoon. I’ve been collaborating with people in the community for four or five years, and I recently had the opportunity to go out on the water with the fishermen from the community. As soon as I went out on the water with them, I realized the lagoon itself was a whole other world. From the motorway known as Third Mainland Bridge (that connects the mainland to the islands that house the CBD) the lagoon looks like an empty void in the center of the megacity, when in actual fact it’s teeming with life, ecological as well as  social life, where people live either directly on the water or dotted around the edge of the lagoon.

So through collaborating with this community and collaborating with a group of young dancers, who were also community organizers and activists, I started to learn that the kind of sociality that exists within these communities that are in direct connection to the lagoon is a kind of sociality that stems from another logic. Another logic to urban planning, another logic providing spaces that have another worldview.

This other logic exists because these spaces weren’t planned by the forms of colonial urbanization and colonial planning that expanded the city.

Dele Adeyemo, Dance of the Mangroves, 2023

These spaces were in fact planned by inland settlements like Ile Ife, sending people to migrate, to be adjacent to Lagos in order to trade. But when people traveled there, they weren’t traveling there to become part of the colonial administration. So this space emerged through a  kind of native or Indigenous form of planning that persists within these spaces. And so when I started to learn about this community, this space, and how the people arrived there another world came into view. For example, when people traveled, they migrated with their shrines, which are a little like alters encompassing spiritual artifacts, right? But it’s mainly the worldview, it’s mainly this connection to the world of the spiritual, the connection to the world of ancestors that they took with them. So when they’re migrating, they’re also migrating with traditions like masquerade, for example, which is a form of placemaking it’s a technology of society building.

So you have the masquerade and the spiritual shrine, and then there are technologies and knowledges for inhabiting lagoon environments such as the canoe that enable the use of plant life, in particular the mangroves, that’s what people were migrating with. And, of course, the colonial mentality, the colonial form of planning, erases all of that—it separates people from these knowledges. And that’s what makes these spaces like Oworonshoki incredibly valuable, because they appeared along a different line of planning, they actually maintain a lot of these knowledge systems as you see in my film, where the practice of fishing using the mangrove is described. As the fishermen, they cut the branches, they use them to create fish traps called the Akaja. But the community also used the mangroves as medicine. When prepared with certain herbs the bark of the mangrove acts as a   prophylactic against malaria.

But when the British arrived, they started cutting the mangrove down and sand filling as a form of urbanization because malaria was the single greatest barrier to colonizing West Africa. The death rate was so incredible the British had to find a solution. And rather than using Indigenous technologies and knowledges, of course…

Jerome Haferd: They eradicated the mangroves.

DA: So yeah, what I’ve realized is that these performance cultures like the ones that you see, in the performance at the end of the film, are a part of a heritage and a lineage that can be understood as form of Indigenous knowledge and Indigenous practices but played out within the contemporary space of the megacity. It’s not an idealized romanticized idea of what Indigeneity is, right? It’s a hybridized lifeworld that’s produced. So that’s what I’ve tried to celebrate with this film.

JH: And I think you’re sort of taking that highly architectural idea and creating a  generative object, because now we’re in Venice you constituted another space, here, that’s  using an interdisciplinary set of mediums to sort of motivate a performance in a different location. So I’m curious about even how you made this object, how you’re ending with this comment  not on a frozen Indigeneity but a sort of generative Indigeneity.

JN: Yes, also it seems as though you are evoking the sand as a kind of carrier. It’s a communicative medium. It’s quite literally the territory on which these performances, these lives are lived. But now it also becomes the device through which colonizing forces are operating in that place, right? It’s like, “We’re going to cut the mangrove and then sand fill it.” And now, here in Venice, the sand becomes an interactive surface. I like how it’s activated in this new context. I’d love it if you’d talk about the construction of this artifact in general, but also the particular choice of materials that you’re using.

DA: Yeah, so first of all, I’ve been working a lot with writing, reflecting through writing. And also reflecting, by creating film. And so this exhibition is an opportunity to reflect on the realisations I arrived at through on writing and making films about community, but in this instance I express these realisations through generative forms. As I was saying to you yesterday I had an opportunity to have a wonderful conversation at lunch with Torkwase Dyson, about a year and a half ago. It was just so inspiring to speak to her because I realized that, in her work, she’s grappling with what I would call, Black geometries.

JN: The triangle, the circle as these expansive and generative shapes.

DA: Yeah. Yeah. Which then becomes trapezoid and curve. And by speaking to her, I understood that geometries and forms can have another inheritance—it doesn’t have to follow the Western canon of modernity, these geometries and forms can come through a kind of Black genealogy. And so that was kind of opening for me.

JH: …and part of a larger research, in a way.

DA: Yeah. And so it really made me think, okay, what other Black geometries are there? What are the African geometries that exist within the space that I’m working with? And so this bowl that I created is inspired by one of the many vessels that appears everywhere for carrying things and for holding and displaying things in the market like grains, rice, garri, or beans. We see large bowl vessels everywhere in the street markets of Lagos. The form of the sculpture is also referencing the technology of the canoe of course, but I’m particularly interested in referencing the technology of the Ifa divination board. In the Ifa divination board, Babalawo (the divination priest) uses sand to draw marks in the process of divination, so it made sense for me to reimagine that connection to sand in the sculpture that I designed to screen my film. In fact, in the process of researching the origin story of Ile-Ife, the ancestral home of Ifa the indigenous belief system of the Yoruba people, I discovered traditional tales that describe the creation of the world by sand being dropped from the sky and spread across the primordial waters. So the shaping of sand and sediments is not just a contemporary practice in the region but is intimately connected to the Ifa worldview. 

So I was thinking about all of these things as well as the mangrove forests of course, and the form of the mangrove trees take. This is how I arrived at the idea to create a stand for the divination bowl which was representative of the twisting aerial roots of the mangroves. I wanted to create a joint that created the effect of the wooden legs twisting around each other. So as a design challenge, it’s technically very difficult for the fabricator to make because you can’t exactly see where it’s load bearing.

JN: There’s a multiplicity of how it’s skittering on these legs. It is interesting—a long time ago, I made an object that had a similar multiplicity of base elements. It imbued the upper structure with a kind of unpredictable movement. The multiplicity can give it its own internal choreographic gesture.

DA: And it’s all referencing the more ornate Ifa divination bowls that you see that sit on a carved plinth. So you have a bowl, and then it’ll be on a stand with elaborate carvings of figures, human figures, and symbolic images. So this is really a play on these traditional designs but starting from this idea of the geometry of the vessel and the curve.

JH: And you’ve suspended it and it’s floating in real time. Yeah. Which is where we all, in a way, when you said African geometry, and then you said Black geometry, I think those are two different things.

JN: Hmmm, yeah, I think so too.

JH: It’s the kind of reflection, the liveness of gravity, and the sort of real time juxtaposition of all those things. Yeah. It’s a sort of Black geometry.

JN: I think the platform is a curatorial artifact and the object is your intervention, right? There’s an intersection to the display. We’re contending with all of these presences that are here and now activated. They encounter a new audience who is coming to this with their own histories, their own knowledge, their own ignorances, etc.

What I love about this work is that it has such a strong voice that I think it touches you even if you don’t fully understand all the narratives it may hold. It has such a lush texture, and the imagery is evocative. It’s easy to fall into it. It’s very seductive.

JH: And even without the curatorial gesture of the plinth, you’re contending with gravity, which I think is something you’re both sort of contending with and thinking about as well as (W. E. B.) Dubois , who was working with abstraction, data visualization, and the Black condition. Yeah. And, you know, and we’re here in Venice, to the extent where, I was telling you yesterday, my equilibrium is now almost completely inverted. I’m feeling more, sort of, at home when I’m in motion. And I think there’s a Blackness to that.

DA: On that point, this is a new iteration of a larger project called Wey Dey Move. Wey Dey Move is a Nigerian pidgin term for things change and constantly evolve, but obviously, when people say Wey Dey Move, it also sounds like the way they move. So, there’s these multiple readings, but it also captures a sense of something essential to Blackness, but a particular kind of Lagosian Blackness. The Lagosian experience is very improvisational. People are constantly in motion, constantly changing, constantly responding to changing situations. This movement comes from the natural environment, but it also comes from the social economic environments that people find themselves in. So you have the constant motion of the tides and the changing shape of the coastline.

But you also have the imposed precarity of people’s lives, because of the structural imbalances of the position of precarity that much of Africa is held in which is particularly intensely felt within Lagos. So, to return to the point of this differentiation between Blackness—and I wouldn’t say a differentiation, but rather the nuance—this nuance between Blackness and African-ness is created by the line drawn by modernity, with its founding forms of violence which are generated through transatlantic slavery. Because of my heritage and being born in Nigeria, having a Nigerian father and Scottish mother, growing up here—in the West—and being born there…

Passing viewer: Congratulations!

DA: Oh, thank you.

Another passing viewer: Congratulations, beautiful exhibition.

DA: Oh, thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

…So yeah, because I was born there, I have this sense of my African-ness and yet I grew up in Scotland. So I have this sort of rupture within myself. And it’s because of these structural conditions that though I was born there, I grew up elsewhere. So I’m very interested in that rupture in its many different contexts. I like to talk about the rupture created by the Door of No Return (the last doorway in the slave castle that enslaved subjects would pass through before they were loaded on the slave ships), as operating in all directions, rippling in all directions through space and time, but I’m particularly interested in how modernity unfolds within the African experience. Blackness is articulated differently according to which side of that rupture it was on. I love the way Arthur Jafa talks about Blackness in America as an existence created out of this rupture, and how it was an opportunity to reimagine all kinds of traditional African practices. But that also happened in Africa too, right? It happens within the urban context. It happens in places like Lagos, where traditional life is totally ruptured by slavery and colonialism.

JH: And modernity.

DA: Yeah, and modernity. The separation from traditional practices generates a form of modernity, but one that remains in interaction with the context of Indigenous practices, one that is still in interaction with the land and still present, within the geography.

JH: Which brings us full circle to the fact that no matter where you are, there is a particular landscape that we’re contending with and engaging with, which is where a kind of “Indigenous” practice becomes very specific.

JN: Yeah, but I love how you’re speaking to this idea of a kind of simultaneity—both continuity and rupture exist within this context. I mean, you’re talking with two Americans…

JH: two African Americans…

JN: …two Black Americans. I’ve been thinking about the door of no return in the context of our project Afterimages, also shown in the Corderie building. Our work is an open portal that you pass under and through. The steel structure is two overlapping perspectives, an intersection of two horizons. The work is conceptual, it is an abstraction of two ways of viewing the same figure. Being a witness means you are both part of the physicality of the event but also outside of it, distanced in a way. Our piece is dedicated, in humble gratitude, to Darnella Frazier, the young woman who captured the video of George Floyd’s murder in my hometown. She was there, it had an impact on her own life, but she also was a conduit for seeing and sharing, through images, this unthinkable violence. I think it’s very interesting that we are circling around some of these same issues of rupture, of modernity, of the Black body and its images, of our present condition, but coming from two sides of an ocean.

JH: Yeah. Recently I’ve been looking at graphic representations of the transatlantic slave trade. And, you know, these millions and millions of individuals cascading across that void is a kind of opening, right, even though there’s a sort of psychology of closure of rupture, of break. But that break is also this opening.

JN: I mean, I think that is in some ways what Jafa is talking about.

JH: Which makes me think of your piece, Jennifer! Can we talk about your piece? Should we go over there?

JN: Yes, let’s walk over there; we can walk and talk. This Biennale so beautifully shows how we are all moving in the same present. We’re bringing our various thoughts and trajectories to intersect in this moment, and those ideas will go off into the future. To see how this work is braided together right now is exciting.

Dele, I’m curious to hear more about your experience as a JAE Fellow in preparation for this exhibition. You are a Guest From The Future, according to the curatorial framing. What is it like being here, seeing your work in relation to all the other work that is also here? We can talk about that in dialogue with my work, sure, but also more generally about this contemporary moment where there’s an intersect. These threads will potentially diverge again, but maybe some will still stay entangled. How is this whole process, the year, the fellowship, being here now and projecting into the future affecting you? How are you thinking about these relationships between your work and the things outside of it?

DA: I mean, it’s inspiring for me, it’s great for me to have this dialogue with you. Because, I think we have been discussing this idea of, what is the Black form? What it is, is not something as simple as an aesthetic practice of creating pattern on a façade, not that that isn’t interesting in its own right.  

JN: I’m not interested in graphic pattern at all! [laughs] 

DA: Yes, that isn’t what we’re interested in. And for me, it was tremendously exciting to be able to engage with you because this is something that you’re also grappling with in your work.

JN: I’m interested in the dry space, a void in legibility. The mark making is like an erasure, a revealing of something that had been hidden. I’m not interested in re-inscription of a certain pattern, graphic, or symbol. Our work is much more open and abstract in my estimation.

JH: Yeah, certainly it’s also not simply the presence of someone Black doing a piece. Exactly, exactly. Which we’ve been talking about a lot.

DA: Yeah, it has to be far more fundamental than that. But I think that’s also the opportunity of creating art, as opposed to having to create living buildings. You know, you’re able to push at these limits. Like when I look at your work, I think about Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, I think about jazz, and I think about the strangeness of the urban environment. And going back to that idea of form inspired by Torkwase Dyson’s questions, it makes me think about the strangeness of a Black experience in urban space.

JN: And that there are these infrastructures, these spatial conditions that are meant to alienate us from ourselves.

JH: And disciplinary conditions, pedagogical conditions.

JN: And people often ask us about the violence in our work. We’re not trying to shy away from what’s uncomfortable about it, even as we explore it and try to reckon with it ourselves.

JH: You know, it reminds me of something Walter Hood said, the first time I saw him speak in person, which is we’ve had to walk and chew gum at the same time, right?

JN: Yeah, chew gum, tap dance…[laughs]

JH: And that’s where the Blackness of the work is addressing these issues at a multivalent level. An acknowledgement of violence, of complexity. And of different mediums that that registers on.

JN: I like how you brought in the disciplinary violence because we were talking about that a little bit on the boat yesterday. At a gathering in honor of the Black Reconstruction Collective and in partnership with Deem Journal, Mitch [McEwen] was talking about stepping into the space of this exhibition…

JH: Having to protect oneself from the discipline.

JN: Yes, and not needing to protect oneself from the discipline when you are here. Stepping into the space of this exhibition, you don’t feel that need for protection. It’s like, oh, no, I’m the center.

JH: And not only that I’m the center, but there is an acknowledgement of the wholeness of experience that we contain.

DA: Yeah. There’s a line in Tina Campt’s book Listening to Images in which she talks about the agency of a group of African women who have been photographed that she finds in a colonial archive in South Africa. On one level, it may seem like they’re being photographed under coercion. But then she asks you to look closer at the images, the expressions, the posture of the women. And she uses this term like, there’s a muscular tension in their bodies, in their posture and facial expressions, which reveals their agency and resistance in the moment. This is what I get from looking at your work as well, Jennifer. It represents to me all of these challenges about having to contort and hold your body to suit what is seen as the discipline of architecture whilst overcoming questions about ‘how is a Black architecture relevant? How is the Black experience relevant, architecture is supposed to be universal?’ Your work challenges all these questions.

And  I guess I see all that tension not as tension but as energy, as potential kinetic energy.

JN: I appreciate that you say that because I think we certainly thought about this piece through folks’ movements around it through parallax, and we have been referring to the central element as a “figure.” Relative to one horizon, the figure is laying down. Relative to the other horizon, it is standing. And then as you circle around and look back, the figure is in flight. We thought about this piece as a kind of portal. This is the web that we’re in, and we’re all trying to navigate our way through.

JH: Absolutely. And this is where, you know, again, at a visual level, but also sort of like empathic level. If not for the transatlantic slave trade, I wouldn’t exist. Do you know what I mean, to really think about the kind of natural force that is Blackness? Right? And just contending with that tension? You know what I mean?

If not for the violence of Blackness, I wouldn’t be here. Right. So how do we contend with the, with that muscular tension, of the hopefulness of Blackness, the generative Blackness, and the violence all at the same time?

DA: Well, I think I think it’s the generative, I really like…

JH: And the joy.

DA: Yeah, yeah. I mean, so the joy, like the joy… I talk about the dancers in my film, I talk about virtuosic, vibrant outbursts of accumulated tension in their bodies. You know, because of the condition that people are living in… the pressure of the precarity of the urban space, it lives in, as they say, it lives in their bodies, but it flows out in this incredibly generative way. And so I don’t see the violence as a positive, I’m not thankful for the violence that we must overcome, but I also know that there is no perfect state, you know, there’s no perfect state in nature. So, it’s this interplay that’s always at work.

JN: I was just going to say, to make a link back to your film, we’ve been working on an open-ended conversation with the performance artist Jasmine Hearn who has been producing their own research in response to our work. They’ve been spending time with it, doing movements in response to it, and creating an embodiment score. So I think there’s a way in which that kind of muscular tension, that liveness, is part of the work quite literally. It is a movement and moving through. Jasmine’s body has so many different types of knowledge that I don’t necessarily have. It has been powerful to see them move. The visual artist Elle Pérez made a film of Jasmine’s interaction with our work, which also speaks to this kind of buoyancy, liquidity, water, and multiple horizons that are inscribing these worlds. Elle manipulated the camera so the steel, its shadows, and Jasmine’ body were in continual resonance as various horizons in the space of the film. As we stand here, we each bring our own horizon with us. The vanishing point is within each of us.

Dream The Combine, Afterimages (detail of shadows), 2023

Dream The Combine, Afterimages (detail of central figure), 2023

JH: And practicing that… that constant change of equilibrium.

JN: Yes, this constant negotiation, to go back to what you were saying earlier, and…

JH: …that frequency. So go back to Tina Campt. Which we were discussing with her yesterday on the boat.

JN: Yes, that was so wonderful to be in conversation with Tina! The conversation continued what she spoke about at The Loophole of Retreat, held in Venice the previous October, which I also had the pleasure of attending. That event was also an incredible, generative moment, a nourishing moment. Tina and I talked about frequency as a definable thing that has movement, resonance, and flow.

Dele, we’re using very different material expressions and different forms. But I think it’s interesting that we’re holding a lot of similar attitudes. I keep returning to this metaphor of meeting on either side of the ocean. We’re trying to speak to one another in some way, even though we are not using the same language, the same words. So there’s a kind of a slippage there.

DA: Yeah. The last thing that I will say, because I really must run, I’m late, I’m sorry, but I mean, I really enjoyed this conversation. And, hopefully, we can keep it going. The other thing is, obvious—you are using architectural materials, very industrial architectural materials, but they’re being reassembled in these interesting ways.

 And I would love to talk more about it but I really have to go.

JN: The materiality of infrastructure, of modernity. That’s intentional. Yes, to be continued…

DA: I thought that was really amazing.

JN: Me too!

JH: Wonderful.

Dele Adeyemo is a Scottish/Nigerian artist, architect, and critical urban theorist based in London and Lagos. In his creative practice and research, he interrogates the processes embedded in racial capitalism’s spatial production and the contemporary life-worlds in its midst. Through drawing, film, and installation, Adeyemo’s work constitutes a transdisciplinary practice encompassing embodied cultures of movement and circulation to mobilize what he’s calling “the Black radical spatial imaginary.”

Adeyemo’s projects have been presented internationally, including the 13th and 18th Venice Architecture Biennales, the 13th International Architecture Biennale of Sao Paulo, the 5th Istanbul Design Biennial, and the 2nd Edition of the Lagos Biennial. Adeyemo is the recipient of the JAE Fellowship, the Canadian Centre for Architecture & Andrew Mellon Fellowship, and Het Nieuwe Instituut’s Research Fellowship. He is completing a CHASE-AHRC awarded doctoral thesis, titled “Last Dark Continent,” in the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Jennifer Newsom is an architect and conceptual artist working across scales in installation, architecture, sculpture, film, drawing, and social practice. In 2013, Newsom and Tom Carruthers cofounded Dream The Combine in Minneapolis, MN. The duo move between the Midwest and Ithaca, NY, where they are faculty at Cornell AAP. They have produced numerous site-specific works that explore metaphor, perceptual uncertainties, and the boundary between real and illusory space. Newsom and Carruthers consider these as frameworks for vision and movement that complicate the relationship between body, space, image, and environment.

Dream The Combine was named a 2023 Emerging Voice by The Architectural League, 2022–2023 Rome Prize Fellows in Architecture by the American Academy in Rome, 2022 Fellows in Architecture and Design by United States Artists, 2021 Visual Artist Fellows by the McKnight Foundation, 2020–2021 J. Irwin and Xenia S. Miller Prize winners by Landmark Columbus, and 2018 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program winners by The Museum of Modern Art. Their writing and interviews have appeared in the Journal of Architectural Education, Log, Architectural Design, Wallpaper, Metropolis, MasContext, and Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America.

Jerome W. Haferd is an architect, public artist, and educator based in Harlem, New York. He is principal of the award winning Jerome Haferd Studio. Haferd is an assistant professor of architecture at City College’s Spitzer School of Architecture where he codirects the new Place, Memory, and Culture Incubator.

Haferd is a core initiator of Dark Matter U, a transdisciplinary network geared towards new models of design pedagogy and practice. He received the 2022 #BlackVisionaries award as part of a DMU cohort and co-led the DMU Constellation exhibit at the 2022 Lisbon Architecture Trienale : Terra.

Haferd’s practice critically engages built environment projects in both urban and rural contexts, often looking to Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized histories to unlock a new imaginary for architecture, design, and cultural infrastructure. His work on complex sites includes collaborations with the Harlem African Burial Ground, Roots to Sky Collective, The Park Avenue Armory, and the National Black Theatre. The firm recently completed the Sankofa installation in Harlem and is one of the first prize recipients for the International Africatown Design Competition in Mobile, AL with their proposal, “In The Wake.”