i/van/able, a supposed architectural workshop and think tank is imaginary, though Tall Tales: State Looks, Black Desire(s), Housing Schemes is the very real dissertation project in the works undertaken by i/van/able founder and leader ife salema vanable. it is a project that began in part with DEEP SEGREGATION, that now elaborates on and expands an interrogation of hybridity, blackness, the middle, domesticity (and/of the state), dwelling, respectability, high-rise residential towers, politics, aesthetics, pleasure, joy, and the right to the sky. get in touch.
TALL TALES: STATE LOOKS, BLACK DESIRE(S), HOUSING SCHEMES
PhD CANDIDATE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE, PLANNING AND PRESERVATION (GSAPP) Advisor: Dr. Mabel O. Wilson
The story of housing in America is, to a certain extent, a tale of racial formation, an ongoing series of racial projects that have transformed and continue to transmute over time. Histories of housing are often narrated through two opposed lenses: public housing as a failed endeavor; and the injustices, exclusions, and inequities of suburban development. The narrative of housing and race has predominantly unfolded as a story of institutional subjugation, narrated in terms of dispossession, forced segregation, and discrimination. Blackness is often conflated with conditions of impoverishment and whiteness typically unaddressed, taken as an unconsidered given, an unconscious universality.
This dissertation operates at a critical intersection of historical analysis, theoretical speculation, and a close reading of language and rhetoric as a way to interrogate how modes of architectural production are operative parts of the same project that has historically, and continues to mutate, to produce varying ideas about racial difference. These alignments are not merely material, they constitute a discursive system, an aesthetic and sociotechnical mode of operation that orders the world in particular ways. Accordingly, interrogation of Mitchell-Lama housing affords a compelling and essential course of study precisely due to its hybridity, the simultaneous ambiguity and specificity with which the terms of its production are managed (“middle-income,” “family,” “household), and the ways that its objects aesthetically deviate from and challenge expectations for how black bodies are to be physically and materially housed.