Histories of Negation | BLACK city: The Arkansas Edition

2022 Fay Chandler Creativity Grant

Installation view of Totem House by studioSUMO, Crystal Bridges Museum, 2022. Image credit: Ironside Photography.
Installation view of Totem House by studioSUMO, Crystal Bridges Museum, 2022. Image credit: Ironside Photography.
Installation view of Totem House by studioSUMO, Crystal Bridges Museum, 2022. Image credit: Ironside Photography.
Space|Scale diagram. Credit: studioSUMO and Sierra Taylor.
Timeline graphics for panels of Totem House. Image credit: J. Yolande Daniels and Ashley Nicole Feyes.
Component House affordable house prototype. Image credit: studioSUMO and Kyle Kalmar.

Giving presence to absent histories


The BLACK city Editions are a series of projects that explore both general and specific conditions of Blackness in America by representing socio-spatial phenomena that reflect customs, laws, and events at the national and local scales: gentrification in the New York Edition (black city2) (2003-04); restrictive covenants in the Los Angeles Edition (2020); racial expulsions and sundown towns in the Arkansas Edition (Histories of Negation) (2022); and in Jim Crow era legal topographies of segregation and integration in de Facto/de Jure: By Custom/By Law(2006).

In Histories of Negation | BLACK city: The Arkansas Edition, J. Yolande Daniels considers the spatial dynamics of race and place in American cities, recounting the removal of Indigenous nations and African American settlements across the United States.

Histories of Negation | BLACK city: The Arkansas Edition comprises a housing prototype, Totem House, that is inscribed with Histories of Negation, a timeline of settlements and expulsions in Northwest Arkansas that illustrates the negation of Indigenous Nations and African American settlements from 1750 to the present. The website for Histories of Negation expands the necessarily brief inscriptions in an interactive timeline that draws connections between events, people, and places.

BLACK city: the Arkansas Edition was commissioned as part of the Totem House by studioSUMO (J. Yolande Daniels and Sunil Bald, partners) for Architecture at Home; a group show of affordable housing prototypes curated by Dylan Turk at Crystal Bridges Museum for American Art (2022). The Arkansas Edition of events related to Black settlement in Arkansas is etched on the surfaces of the Totem House prototype by studioSUMO, and displayed in Histories of Negation.


Exhibitions & Events

Histories of Negation | Black city: The Arkansas Edition
Beta launched November 4, 2022

Restrictive Topographies: the BLACK city
By J. Yolande Daniels
On view: November 4 – December 2, 2022
Reception: Friday, November 4, 2022
MIT Keller Gallery and adjacent corridor
MIT Building 7-408, 4th floor
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA

Restrictive Topographies: the BLACK city explores American cities to reveal phenomena and dynamics, including gentrification, restrictive covenants, racial expulsions, and sundown towns that have affected Black settlements. Representative of a body of research referred to as Black City Editions, the exhibition summarizes two decades of production across four projects: 13 Cities Edition: de Facto/de Jure: By Custom/By Law (2006), the New York Edition black city (squared): the miscegenation game (2003), Black city: the Los Angeles Edition (2020) and Black city: the Arkansas Edition (2022). The work presents empirical observation and historical research on architecture, race, and urban settlements while provoking aspirational speculation about the future of segregated cities.

Totem House presented in the Architecture at Home Exhibition
By studioSUMO
On view July 9 – November 7, 2022
Crystal Bridges Museum
600 Museum Way, Bentonville, Arkansas


J. Yolande Daniels, associate professor of architecture at MIT, is a co-founding design principal of studioSUMO. She is a National Academician, a Rome Prize fellow in Architecture and a fellow of the Independent Study Program of the Whitney American Museum of Art in studio practice and cultural studies. She received a B.S. Arch from City College of New York and an MArch from Columbia University. Her independent design research explores the spatial effects of race and gender in the built environment, focusing on narratives of resistance and autonomy with specific interest in representing subordinate spaces that supplement and maintain dominant spatial and political systems of power.

Biography: MIT Architecture Department
Social: Instagram


Histories of Negation | BLACK city: The Arkansas Edition
Research and Design lead J. Yolande Daniels

Production of the website, Histories of Negation | BLACK city: The Arkansas Edition, was made possible through the support of a Fay Chandler Grant from the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST). BLACK city: The Arkansas Edition received the support of the MIT School of Architecture + Planning. The Totem House, affordable house prototype, was commissioned for the exhibition Architecture at Home at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and curated by Dylan Turk, special projects editor of architecture and design.

BLACK city: The Arkansas Edition Panel Fabrication Team
Ian Erickson, Adam Fertig, Nare Filiposyan, Qingyi Duanmu, Emily Katrencik, Stephanie Li, Noa Maori, Benjamin Tasistro-Hart, Nicole Teichner, and Emily Wissemann.

Panel Fabrication Consultant Christopher Dewart

BLACK city: The Arkansas Edition Website Design
Christina Dimitri Battikha, Doris Qingyi Duanmu, Ashley Nicole Feyes, Jensen A. Johnson, and Isabel Waitz.

Website Programming Alexandros Haridis

Totem House studioSUMO Design Team
studioSUMO: J. Yolande Daniels and Sunil R. Bald (partners), with Erik August Bakken, Ashley Nicole Feyes, Meaghan Sarah Kelly, Kyle Joseph Kalmar, and Sierra Taylor (Syracuse University).

Totem House Structure Fabrication
Nicholas Paschal Construction LLC

MIT Department of Architecture Lectures and Exhibitions Committee
Taariq Alasa, José Luis Argüello, J. Yolande Daniels, Joél Carela, Mara Diavolova, Huma Gupta, J Jih, William McKenna, and Amanda Moore.