Madlener House
4 West Burton Place
Chicago, Illinois 60610
Telephone: 312.787.4071


Thomas Ankersmit
Lampo Performance Series
Mar 12, 2016, 8pm

RSVP Required

Dutch artist Thomas Ankersmit will premiere new work commissioned by Lampo—a composition for analog Serge modular and digital oscillators that combines a blizzard of microsounds with sculptural fields of pure tone. This project is Ankersmit's first significant foray into the digital realm and first fully quadraphonic composition.

Thomas Ankersmit is a composer, musician and installation artist based in Berlin and Amsterdam. Acoustic phenomena such as sound reflections, infrasonic vibration, otoacoustic emissions, and highly directional projections of sound have been an important part of his work since the early 2000s. His music is also characterized by a deliberate misuse of equipment, using feedback and disruptions to the signal, and the extremes of frequency and dynamics, to create visceral but finely detailed swarms of sound. Since 2006 his main instrument, both live and in the studio, has been the Serge analogue modular synthesizer. His recent collaborations include a series of electroacoustic pieces with Sicilian composer and performer Valerio Tricoli; recording sessions with Kevin Drumm at GRM in Paris; and a new Phill Niblock composition for Serge modular synthesizer (Niblock’s first piece for an electronic instrument). Ankersmit has performed twice before in the Lampo series—in February 2012 and September 2008. 

Commissioned by Lampo with the support of the Performing Arts Fund NL. This performance is presented in partnership with Lampo. Founded in 1997, Lampo is a non-profit organization for experimental music and intermedia projects.

Please Note: Seating for this performance is very limited. RSVP is required and event entry is first-come, first-serve, so please plan to arrive early. Doors will open at 7:30pm.



Listening There, Scenes from Ghana
Mabel O. Wilson and Peter Tolkin
Mar 08, 2016, 6pm

Please RSVP

In 2008, Mabel Wilson and Peter Tolkin traveled through Ghana, documenting the architecture that had been erected during the 1950's and 1960's in the decades following the end of European colonial rule.These mid-century buildings were mostly modernist, designed by architects from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Lebanon, Italy and Ghana; they had been reviewed in contemporary architectural publications, as part of a lively debate on what became known as “tropical modernism.” Until recently, the legacy of these mid-century buildings had all but disappeared from the western historical canon; and with their absence we've failed to understand how critical the African continent was to the discourse of modernism. In this talk, Wilson and Tolkin will discuss their project, examining how these buildings have fared in the half-century since their construction and how they function in today's increasingly urban and global contexts.

Mabel O. Wilson
is an award-winning designer and scholar. She received a doctorate in American Studies from NYU and an MArch from Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. As the Nancy and George E. Rupp Professor at Columbia University's GSAPP, she directs the program for Advanced Architectural Research, co-directs the Global Africa Lab, and is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Research in African American Studies in GSAS. Her collaborative design practices (KW: a and Studio &) have worked on speculative and built projects. Wilson's scholarly research investigates space and cultural memory in black America, race and visual culture, and new technologies and the social production of space. Her essays have appeared in numerous journals and books on critical geography, cultural memory, visual culture, and architecture. Wilson's recent book, Negro Building – Black Americans and the World of Fairs and Museums, studies how the spaces of world’s fairs, emancipation expositions, and grassroots public museums became sites to imagine Afro-modernity.

Peter Tolkin is the founding principal of Peter Tolkin Architecture. Influenced by his formal education with renowned American artists Allan Sekula and Lewis Baltz and subsequent work as a documentary photographer, his practice speaks to the social and cultural context of a project. With a natural curiosity in the contingencies that impact the conditions of contemporary culture, Tolkin’s seminal explorations as an artist provided the conceptual kernel for an architectural practice that interprets contextual narratives. He received a BA in Art and Art History from the University of California, Santa Cruz, a MFA in Photography from the California Institute of the Arts, and a MArch from Columbia University. Tolkin continues to practice photography as a complement to his architectural work.

Image: Black Star Square, also know as Independence Square, was built to commemorate independence from colonial rule. Accra, Ghana, 1961.



Reflections on the "Architecture of Independence"
Nnamdi Elleh
Mar 03, 2016, 6pm

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The five countries—Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Senegal and Zambia—whose modern architectural productions are featured in Architecture of Independence, present the opportunity to examine where the collective and the individual fit in the post colonial era. In his lecture architecture historian Nnamdi Elleh will connect the sociopolitical conditions of the newly independent countries with the modernist buildings erected post-independence. Elleh will address several key questions: Why did these countries fall into different states of violence following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, an era that has been seen as the rise of neoliberal economy in the world and in Africa in general? This lecture will draw from the exhibition to explore the challenges facing these countries and different parts of the continent today.

Nnamdi Elleh is associate professor of architecture, history and theory at DAAP, University of Cincinnati. He was trained as an architect and received his PhD in art history from Northwestern University. He was a Fulbright Teaching-Research Scholar at the University of Cape Town, where he studied post-apartheid nationalist inspired architecture in South Africa. His research focuses on modern and contemporary architecture as diverse, multi-centered, regional and localized experiences in different parts of the world. Elleh’s selected books include African Architecture, Evolution and Transformation (McGraw Hill, 1996); Architecture and Power in Africa (Praeger, 2001); and Reading the Architecture of the Underprivileged Classes: A Perspective on the Protests and Upheavals in Our Cities (Ashgate, 2014).

image: Photomontage of Bernard Nivert and Robert Boy’s Building for the Fund for Stabilization and Support of Agricultural Produce Prices (CAISTAB), 1970, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, featuring the country’s primary agricultural produce. Originally published in the national magazine Fraternité Matin, November 1981.

For more information on the exhibition, Architecture of Independence: African Modernism, click here.



Lampo Performance Series
Feb 20, 2016, 8pm

Please RSVP

The Graham Foundation in partnership with Lampo is pleased to present Roc Jiménez de Cisneros, one half of the Barcelona-based sound-art duo EVOL. De Cisneros will premiere Opus17aSlimeVariation#8—an interpretation of German conceptual artist Hanne Darboven’s legendary Opus 17a, newly arranged for computer and RGB laser.

EVOL’s approach to Darboven's original score focuses mainly on time manipulation. Hanne Darboven worked with processes that manipulated numbers and patterns. She often used calendar dates organized according to new rules and visually displayed these grids on paper. Her Opus 17a is derived from one such calendar-based artwork (Wunschkonzert, 1984), in which numbers are transcribed into musical notes. In both a tribute to the original, and an experiment in temporal distortion, EVOL transforms Darboven's grid into a new sonic experience.

Opus17aSlimeVariations is part of a series that began in 2014 and has been presented live and as an installation, using different sound materials each time. The project was first developed in collaboration with programmer Guy Birkin.

Roc Jiménez de Cisneros (b.1975, Barcelona) is an artist, composer and co-founder of the computer music project EVOL, which he started with Stephen Sharp in 1996. His work is a radical and playful exploration of algorithmic composition. Heavily influenced and inspired by cosmology, noise and rave culture, he describes his recordings, installations and performances as “computer music for hooligans.” His output has been released on labels such as Entr’acte, Presto!?, Mego, and ALKU, which he runs with Anna Ramos. He has performed extensively throughout the world. He lives and works in Barcelona.

This performance is presented in partnership with Lampo. Founded in 1997, Lampo is a non-profit organization for experimental music, sound art and intermedia projects. For information and to add your name to the Lampo list, visit


PLEASE NOTE: Seating for this performance is extremely limited. RSVP is required and event entry is first-come, first-serve, so please plan to arrive early. Doors will open at 7:30pm.



Opening Reception: Architecture of Independence: African Modernism
Jan 29, 2016, 6pm
Opening Reception

Please RSVP

Please join us for a reception and talk by curator and author Manuel Herz to celebrate the opening of our winter exhibition, Architecture of Independence: African Modernism.

Friday, January 29
6:00pm: Talk by curator and author Manuel Herz
7-8:30 pm: Opening Reception

This exhibition is based on the book project African Modernism: Architecture of Independence by Manuel Herz in cooperation with the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany.

Manuel Herz
is an architect based in Basel, Switzerland. His recent projects include the Synagogue and Jewish Community Center in Mainz, Germany. He has taught at the ETH Zürich and at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, and is currently professor of architecture and urban design studies at the University of Basel. Manuel's research addresses the relationship between migration, architecture, and nation-building and the spaces of refugee camps. His publications include Nairobi: Migration Shaping the City (with Shadi Rahbaran and supported by a Graham Foundation grant; Lars Müller Publishers, 2014); From Camp to City: Refugee Camps of the Western Sahara (Lars Müller Publishers, 2013); and African Modernism: Architecture of Independence.

Image: Jean Francois Lamoureux and Jean-Louis Marin, FIDAK - Foire Internationale de Dakar, 1974, Dakar (Senegal). Photo © Iwan Baan.

For more information on the exhibition, Architecture of Independence: African Modernism, click here.


Unless otherwise noted,
all events take place at:

Madlener House
4 West Burton Place, Chicago
The Graham Foundation galleries are open Wednesday through Saturday from 11-6PM.

Directions to Madlener House


Events are held in the ballroom on the third floor which is only accessible by stairs.
The first floor of the Madlener House is accessible via an outdoor lift. Please call 312.787.4071 to make arrangements.