Palace of the People
YOU ARE LOOKING AT UNCEDED LAND
When the opportunity came for two professors to participate in the Chicago Architecture Biennial, they listened to elders from the Potawatomi Nation and found a way to reckon architecture’s relationship to the Indigenous peoples of Chicagou.
Looking out the east-facing windows of Yates Gallery at the Chicago Cultural Center, it’s easy to admire the wide territory the windows frame. A shoreline east of Michigan Avenue is still landfilled by rubble from the 1871 fire. Millennium Park, Grant Park, and Burnham Park have become urban landmarks on land that was once covered by the waters of Lake Michigan.
Taking a step back to better regard the view, you can more easily read the text painted across the windows in front of you: YOU ARE LOOKING AT UNCEDED LAND.
The words were part of an exhibit called the Settler Colonial City Project (SCCP) that ran from September 2019 to January 2020 as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. The exhibit was created by History of Art Assistant Professor Ana María León and Andrew Herscher, associate professor of architecture in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning and in history of art and Slavic languages and literatures.
When Herscher and León were first invited to present work at the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, they used the opportunity to start a conversation about the settler-colonial history of the city.
Read Gina Balibrera’s piece on SCCP here.