As I am photographing an installation Joseph Grima, the co-artistic director of this biennial is walking into this space with his phone held high, talking while walking and video taping. Without pausing he says hello and keeps on filming because as I later learn he has a scheduled interview coming up. I take a few photos of him recording and then I start recording him recording, reminiscent of the style Isaac Julien uses in his film Ten Thousand Waves. This goes on for 16-plus minutes. When done we both walk towards his interview.
[DesignApplause] This is the 3rd day of your event. Where are you right now?
[Joseph Grima] I’m totally immersed and consumed right now. Whether I’m at a scheduled event or in between like we are right now. What am I doing now in my free time? Video recording the entire event! I’m both buzzing and having a great time.
[DA ] This question can be off the record if you wish. The Chicago Cultural Center is such a wonderful space. Does the Beaux-Arts ornamented classical style compete with the installations? Would you have preferred to have a vacant factory building?
[JG] If this building was alongside a vacant factory building I would choose this building in a heartbeat. This space is more than a building. This is the city’s living room so to speak. The local citizens come in here all the time, this is there space, it has so much heart and soul. And this notion is more important than any special politics or anything. Having said that I think the spaces in this building are absolutely amazingly fantastic. The vast array of rooms that we’ve been able to occupy, from scale models to large installations, big galleries, small galleries, fantastic circulation. I think it’s fabulous.
[DA ] There are more young, emerging talents than big names. I’ve noticed that’s the case with a number of biennials. Is this phenomenon by design with curators of these events?
[JG] I think this is an exceptionally generous biennial in the sense that it looks much more towards the emerging generation. However, there are some names who are incredibly well-known. We tried not to think too much about who’s famous, who’s not famous. That wasn’t really a specific criteria. We were mostly interested in who’s producing new ideas, who has bold visions, who is taking risks and give them a space.
[DA ] You’ve done a number of biennials and events. How does Chicago compare?
[JG] The scale of the Chicago event is really big. Istanbul was big but Chicago is really big, the first time I’ve done something this large.
[DA ] I hope this show will keep going and thank you so much, and Sarah Herda (co-artistic director and executive director of the Graham Foundation), for putting together such an incredible body of effort and ideas.
[JG] Me too. I have every hope that it will because this city offers so much. Chicago is fantastic, an incredible opportunity for the city and the world.
The [ Chicago Architecture Biennial ] launched 3 October 2015, and will run through 3 January 3 2016. @chicagobiennial @grahamfound @ChiCulturCenter