Beverly Buchanan. I Broke the House

06. März 2024 - 17. Mai 2024 gta Ausstellungen, ETH Zürich, Zürich
Beverly Buchanan. I Broke the House

Beverly Buchanan, Out of Control, 1991, Scrapbook, Beverly Buchanan papers, 1912-2017, bulk 1970s-1990s. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Beverly Buchanan. I Broke the House

With contributions by Elena Bally, Jennifer Burris, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Aria Dean, Fredi Fischli, Jack Halberstam, Harvard University GSD students, Alicia Henry, Anna Gritz, Tonja Khabir, Parity Group, Prudence Lopp, Park McArthur, Devin T. Mays, Ana Mendieta, Siddhartha Mitter, Kazuko Miyamoto, Senga Nengudi, Niels Olsen, Sarah Richter, Cameron Rowland, Jamaal Sheats and Adam Szymczyk

6 March – 17 May 2024

Opening: 5 March 2024, 6 pm, gta exhibitions, ETH Zurich, Hönggerberg
Roundtable: 5 March, 4 – 6 pm, HIB E 52 (Open Space 2), ETH Zurich, Hönggerberg
In collaboration with Parity Group, Parity Talks IX: “On Inconvenience”
With María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Anna Gritz, Tonja Khabir, Prudence Lopp, Devin T. Mays, Siddhartha Mitter, Sarah Richter, Jamaal Sheats and Adam Szymczyk

Closing event: 14 May 2024, 6 pm, gta exhibitions, ETH Zurich, Hönggerberg Talk with Jack Halberstam

Curated by gta exhibitions, ETH Zurich in collaboration with Tubman African American Museum, Macon, GA; Fisk University Galleries, Nashville, TN; Engine for Art, Democracy and Justice (EADJ), Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN

This exhibition is indebted to the Artist-in-Residence Program made possible by the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation.

“I BROKE THE HOUSE,” screams Lila, the protagonist of Beverly Buchanan’s artist book. “Every day, Lila walked past houses sitting on rocks.” Those stacks of stones, similar to ancient cairns used as place markers, support the entire building; nevertheless, Lila suspects “they look like they could be pushed over on the ground.” One can understand the temptation to challenge the seemingly precarious structure, and so, “one day, Lila decided to take away one of the small rocks... guess what happened!”

What potential lies dormant within scenes of collapse?i How does a house as an agent of its own resonate with, respond to or resist its surroundings? As a landscape of scattered and discarded debris, the exhibition is titled after Beverly Buchanan’s tale of Lila and the collapsed house, captured in her humorous, cartoonish fanzine. Drawing on the artist’s attention to the notion of decay, the show raises the question: what is created when something comes apart?

I Broke the House at ETH Zurich spans Buchanan’s wide-ranging oeuvre of sculpture, painting, photography, drawing, writing and printed matter. It enters into dialogue with works by Senga Nengudi, Ana Mendieta, Kazuko Miyamoto, Park McArthur and Jennifer Burris, Cameron Rowland, Devin T. Mays, Aria Dean and Alicia Henry. As a study of Buchanan’s artwork, the exhibition gathers fragmented materials by an artist who defied official mechanisms of commemoration and classification. Her practice traces eroded surfaces of ‘City Ruins’ on canvas and paper, researches vernacular dwellings and their ‘builder-occupants’ in the rural South and persistently embeds long-neglected histories of anti-Black politics in their territorial surroundings. In the context of a gallery attached to an architecture school, Buchanan’s work—predicated on critical engagement with the built environment—challenges the normative formats and politics of “exhibiting architecture.” By investigating and undoing solid structures, Buchanan confronts viewers with unsettling readings of sites, buildings and memorials in solidarity with communities that resist authoritarian narratives.

[i] Jack Halberstam, “Unbuild the World!,” Revolution 13/13—13 Revolutionary Philosophers/13 Seminars at Columbia, 2021–2022, February 20, 2020,