Ania Jaworska's Work Adds Humor to the Usually Serious Business of Architecture

The architect's new show showcases her trademark wit.

“Architecture is very serious business,” says Ania Jaworska, tongue-in-cheek. The Polish-born, Chicago-based 36-year-old stood out among the dozens of other architects at the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial for a tool, unusual in the industry, that pushes the discipline in a new direction: humor. To Jaworska, its complex range—from innocence to irreverence—provides rich means to initiate conversation. Likewise, her first solo show, now on view through Jan, 31 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, features bold, minimalist shapes that explore how common architectural forms communicate. “Gated Area,” a steel ring with an arched entryway, invited viewers inside while inherently creating a boundary; “Monument For Them” consists of two wood letters that appear to be on their knees, begging for attention, forming the word “hi.” Nearby, 16 screen-printed posters comprise “A Subjective Catalogue of Columns,” a series of new column typologies informed by buildings and everyday language; “Whoops,” a column that fails to touch the ground, hangs alongside “Boring Office” (an unadorned cylinder) and “The ‘90s,” a rave-inspired group of skinny, multicolored rods. Together, they diminish the distance between architecture and contemporary culture, creating an index with references everyone can appreciate. Jaworska credits her time at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where she earned her master’s degree, for her ability to articulate the playful side of her approach. “Humor helped me find my point of view within the field of architecture, which requires a lot of time, money, and power,” she says. “I use humor to undermine these conditions. It’s a form of critique but also offers social relief.”

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