An exhibition at Zaha Hadid’s Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati celebrates its late architect

When it first opened in 2003, Cincinnati‘s Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art (CAC) by Zaha Hadid was the first museum in the U.S. designed by a woman. It was also Hadid’s first built work in the country. On September 22, a show celebrating the building’s 20th anniversary and late architect will commence according to a press release.

The group exhibition A Permanent Nostalgia for Departure: A Rehearsal on Legacy with Zaha Hadid examine’s Hadid’s legacy “through a collection of new commissions by an international roster of artists that proposes a take on Hadid’s practice and the CAC building itself.” The group exhibition is guest curated by Maite Borjabad López-Pastor.

“Zaha Hadid’s iconic design of our building is a symbol of innovation and creativity, and it embodies our mission as an incubator for creative expression in the Cincinnati community and beyond,” said Christina Vassallo, CAC’s executive director. “It only seems fitting to celebrate Hadid’s visionary work as an artist by asking a new generation of artists to reflect and respond to the impact she made throughout her life and how her ideas continue to live on and inspire us all.”

2 ZahaHadid MalevichsTektonik 1976 77
Zaha Hadid, Horizontal Tektonick, c.1977 (Don Ross/Courtesy CAC)

At CAC, local and international artists will respond to the themes of “distance in time, history, cultural background, and landscapes, and how a legacy can become a passageway for these days.” Leveraging a plethora of mediums, the artists will employ sculptures, installations, textiles, sound, video, and performance. Abu Dhabi artist Abdul Jabbar, Emii Alrai from the U.K., Istanbul’s Hera Büyüktaşcıyan, Peruvian artist Andrea Canepa, London-based Palestinian artist Dima Srouji, and Hamed Bukhamseen and Ali Ismail Karimi as founders of Civil Architecture Studio will display pieces.

Each artist will engage with a particular facet of Hadid’s corpus of work and reimagine it using a variety of media and approaches. According to the Borjabad, the show’s curator, “Each of the new commissioned works by the contributing artists is an exercise to mobilize knowledge that departs from Zaha Hadid and evolves towards the unknown of the provocation. These works resist the idea of a retrospective or monographic traditional exhibition, and with it a monolithic narrative on the architect’s practice.”

Alongside original content by the contemporary artists, a selection of paintings and ephemera by Zaha Hadid “that depict the unique aesthetic regime the architect created” will also be on display. A Permanent Nostalgia for Departure: A Rehearsal on Legacy with Zaha Hadid will remain on view through January 28, 2024. More information is available on the CAC’s website.

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