Ilana Harris-Babou: Clean Lines

May 22 – September 6, 2019

Broadway Windows 
Broadway and East 10th Street

Opening May 22, 6–8 pm 
80 Washington Square East gallery

Curated by second-year graduate students at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College: Eugenia Delfini, Zhenting Feng, Dain Oh, Zane Onckule, Julia Eilers Smith, Mathilde Walker-Billaud, and Jinglun Zhu.


Ilana Harris-Babou investigates the aesthetics and politics of home design in her solo exhibition, Clean Lines, presented in 80 Washington Square East's Broadway Windows.

This site-specific installation extends Harris-Babou’s previous video work, Red Sourcebook (2018), which depicts the artist flipping silently through the pages of an outdoor design catalogue and marking them in red. The images are subtitled with quotes from the promotional brochure merged with sections from the 1936 Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Underwriting Manual. Through this collage, the artist produces a hybrid narrative, the source and goal of which are ambiguous and troubling.  

For the Broadway Windows, Harris-Babou expands on the visual and textual tactics of Red Sourcebook to activate the surfaces and depths of the vitrine display, and engage with its situation in downtown Manhattan. Comprised of videos, prints, and writings, the installation includes new and existing footage of home furniture design catalogues and a compilation of texts and maps from urban surveys and acts. 

Here, the artist uses historical and official documents to draw an explicit link between the gesture of marking in red and the discriminatory practice of redlining, which started in 1934 with the founding of the FHA and the development of urban federal policies. Starting in the 1930’s, targeted neighbourhoods—typically those of low-income and racial minorities—were geographically demarcated on city maps, delineated in red, to prevent financial investment in the area. The insertion of these contour lines at once highlighted and diverted attention from these inner-city minority neighborhoods, ultimately accelerating their decay.

A multilayered installation, Clean Lines combines and connects the sleek lines and aspirational rhetoric of design advertising with the history of redlining. The result is a dark and haunting parody of luxury design culture and real estate development that foregrounds the exclusionary policies that continue to sustain these industries in the present.

View trailer here. (Ilana Harris-Babou, Clean Lines, 2019. Video Component. Courtesy the artist.)


Ilana Harris-Babou, Clean Lines, 2019. Digital Print, 78 x 78 in. Courtesy of the artist. 



Ilana Harris-Babou’s work is interdisciplinary, spanning sculpture and installation, but grounded in video. She has exhibited throughout the U.S. and Europe, with solo exhibitions at The Museum of Arts & Design and Larrie in New York. Other venues include Abrons Art Center, the Jewish Museum, and SculptureCenter in New York, the De Young Museum in San Francisco, CPH:DOX* in Copenhagen, La Casa Encendida in Madrid and Le Doc in Paris. She will be exhibiting her work in the 2019 Whitney Biennial. She received an MFA from Columbia University in 2016, and a BA in Art from Yale University in 2013. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Art at Williams College. 

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