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Press Release

This year, as the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) celebrates the 20th anniversary of its Zaha Hadid-designed building, the CAC marks the occasion with A Permanent Nostalgia for Departure: A Rehearsal on Legacy with Zaha Hadid. This group exhibition examines 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 Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, which opened in 2003, was the first U.S. museum designed by a woman and Hadid’s first completed building in the U.S. The exhibition is guest curated by Maite Borjabad López-Pastor and is on view September 22, 2023–January 28, 2024.

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

The curatorial text offers that in 2011, Etel Adnan wrote in an ode to Zaha Hadid, “to discover, in this woman who built a solid rock, a permanent nostalgia for departure. Everything she made seems to always be the day before a departure, a permanent invitation to the imagination, and to the imaginary.” Adnan’s poetic words proposed an understanding of Hadid’s oeuvre as an invitation to take a trip. This exhibition expands on Adnan’s prompt, proposing a take on Zaha Hadid’s legacy not as a conclusive overview, but rather as a point of departure full of possibilities and reflections. 

A Permanent Nostalgia for Departure reflects on what legacy means. It asks, what are the possibilities of actively engaging with the outcome of a creative action, which—once emancipated from the author—opens a range of questions and concepts that continue to generate an ecosystem of knowledge. This exhibition actively uses Hadid’s architectural thinking as a starting point, a source of knowledge that can be activated, transferred and evolved. 

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