CECILIA VICUÑA: PALABRARMAS
March 29 – June 2, 2018
This was the first monographic exhibition dedicated to an important yet little-known body of work bridging the gap between Vicuña’s intertwined activities as a poet and visual artist. Vicuña’s “Palabrarmas” are visual anagrams made in exile in London and Bogotá after the Pinochet-led coup of 1973; they are reminiscent of the concrete poetry idiom that was reaching its critical apogee at the time. The exhibition’s centerpiece was a suite of drawings made after a trip across the Amazon in 1977, and originally intended for publication as a long-form visual poem in Colombia in 1978. Forty years after this cycle’s inception, it finally saw the light of day as a stand-alone publication on the occasion of its Chicago debut. The exhibition also included banner-like works in cloth, remakes of art pieces that did not survive their debut as performance props in public space, and photographs documenting the various uses to which the Palabrarmas were put at the time. The titular neologism is a contraction of palabras (words) and armas (weapons), a nod to the spirit of militancy infusing so much progressive Latin American art in the era of juntas. Vicuña’s Palabrarmas, however, are also eruptions of color and sensuous pleasure—words as weapons that are also, more innocently, words to live by.
TERENCE GOWER — HAVANA CASE STUDY
September 12, 2017 – January 26, 2018
Havana Case Study was the second in a series of installations that use American diplomatic architecture as a lens through which to analyze US international relations. Based on extensive research in Havana and in US archives, the exhibition examined the US embassy program’s attempt to represent the aspirations of the government and its foreign policy through architecture, and explored how both the function and meaning of embassy buildings have been altered by the US and host governments over the course of their existence. The centerpiece of the exhibition imagined a comprehensive architectural exhibition on the embassy building, as presented in the late 1950s, at the height of the modernization and expansion of Havana. On an enormous tabletop platform at the center of the gallery, the artist framed details from this period in a complex display of architectural models, photographs, and archival documents, and overlaid these views with more recent photographs and newspaper clippings that report on the many uses the building has served—mostly for propaganda purposes—since the Cuban revolution. Installed on the terrace outdoors, Gower’s monumental sculpture Balcony (2016) was a 1:1 scale outline of the ambassador’s balcony—a symbol of diplomatic stalemate and its political and economic fallout. In the rawness of its five interchangeable sections, the sculpture assumed an ambiguous appearance: was it a remnant of a bygone era, or was it under construction, soon to be hoisted triumphantly into place?
MARK STRAND: COLLAGES
May 24 – June 30, 2017
Mark Strand (1934–2014) was widely recognized as one of the great American poets of his generation. Between 2011 and 2014, he produced a remarkable series of collages using handmade and hand-colored papers that he created in collaboration with master papermaker Sue Gosin. Strand added pigments to a paper blend comprised of linen rag pulp and Abaca pulp to create colored liquid pulps. Working while the base paper was still wet, he "painted" with the colored liquid pulps using brushes, small squirt bottles, and his own hands. This method lends the works their sense of gestural dynamism as well as their chromatic vibrancy. Once the papers were dry, Strand cut and tore them, assembling the pieces into finished collages. Modest in scale and often deceptively simple, the works reward careful and extended looking. Semitransparent layers gradually reveal subtle depth of field, while seemingly casual details coalesce into surprisingly precise compositions.
Lacking an external source or cultural referent, Strand’s collages participate in an aesthetic discourse more closely associated with abstract painting than with collage as it is usually understood. Indeed, Strand described his initial forays into collage as "an escape from making meaning," a shift from a "verbal sense" to a "visual sense," a form of thinking that he regarded as independent of language. But his collages are not entirely unmoored from history or divorced from his poetry. His sensitivity to the possibilities of color can be attributed to the early influence of Josef Albers, with whom he studied at Yale. And his embrace of chance and accident links the collages to the Surrealist tradition that also inspired many of the Abstract Expressionist painters whose works are clear historical antecedents. As Francine Prose noted in a 2013 essay on the collages, while the artist chose not to discuss the relationship himself, "the writing and the visual art are clearly the work of the same person, marked by qualities as unique and recognizable as a fingerprint."
Curated by Jacob Proctor
THE PAST SOLD: CASE STUDIES IN THE MOVEMENT OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL OBJECTS
April 3 – May 12, 2017
Archaeological artifacts are always moving – out of excavation sites, across geopolitical borders, into museums and private collections. This movement can be positive or negative, authorized or unauthorized, legal or illegal. The Past Sold presented contrasting modes of artifact movement: the legal, state-sponsored sale of Early Bronze Age antiquities from Bab adh Dhra’, Jordan, during the late 1970s, and the illegal looting of archaeological sites in Jordan, Iraq, and Syria that continues to this day. The exhibition, which emerged from the Past for Sale research project at the Neubauer Collegium, brought together ceramic pots from the Oriental Institute and the McCormick Theological Seminary, along with unpublished archival documents, maps, photographs, and aerial drone video footage. By calling attention to these materials and the ways they are displayed, The Past Sold invited us to consider new perspectives on the movement and representation of antiquities.
Major support for this exhibition was provided by the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago, with additional support from the Oriental Institute, the McCormick Theological Seminary, and DePaul University.
FANTASTIC ARCHITECTURE: VOSTELL, FLUXUS, AND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
January 22 – March 17, 2017
Taking its title and inspiration from the seminal publication Fantastic Architecture (1970), edited by Wolf Vostell and Dick Higgins and published by Something Else Press, this exhibition presented various approaches to architecture, urban space, and the built environment within an international community of artists associated with Fluxus and conceptual art in the 1960s and 1970s. Fantastic Architecture was presented in conjunction with the re-siting, following a major conservation treatment, of Wolf Vostell’s Concrete Traffic (1970), a monumental event-sculpture in the University of Chicago’s Campus Art Collection. The exhibition contextualized Concrete Traffic in relation to Vostell’s other related works from the period, including photomontage proposals for alterations to architectural and urban spaces and event scores for happenings intended for specific cities, as well as the work of his artistic peers and interlocutors. In Europe and the United States alike, the postwar period saw massive transformations of the urban landscape, the construction and expansion of freeway systems, and the rise of automobile culture, and artists of the time responded to these developments in a variety of ways. Like its eponymous exemplar, the exhibition embraced the porousness and intellectual ferment of the experimental art world of the time, a context in which forms and concepts circulated among an international community of artists. The exhibition included works by Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Douglas Huebler, Allan Kaprow, Shigeko Kubota, Rosemary Mayer, Jim McWilliams, and Wolf Vostell.
Curated by Jacob Proctor
Presented with additional support from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
ANNA TSOUHLARAKIS: SHE MADE FOR HER
November 1, 2016 – January 13, 2017
Working across a range of media, Anna Tsouhlarakis has developed an artistic practice that explores themes of Native American identity through resolutely contemporary means. With a body of work that includes sculpture, video, performance, photography, and installation, Tsouhlarakis aims to expand the terms of what constitutes Native aesthetics, pushing viewers to confront and rethink their own cultural expectations when encountering the work of Native artists. For her exhibition at the Neubauer Collegium—presented as part of the collaborative research project Open Fields—Tsouhlarakis created a group of three new large-scale sculptures, constructed using materials sourced from the “as is” section of Swedish furniture retailer IKEA and accompanied by a multi-channel sound installation. As viewers encountered Tsouhlarakis’s sculptures, the visual experience of each work was mediated by the recorded voices of other Native women describing their experience of the same objects. Some approached them as abstractions, some as utilitarian forms, and others as connections to mythic stories. Collectively, these new works question the authority bestowed upon or ascribed to both individuals and institutions, and make a compelling case for the aesthetic and epistemological contribution that contemporary Native American artists might make to the current articulation of a long-standing historical tradition.
Curated by Jacob Proctor
JAKOB KOLDING: MAKING A SCENE
September 21 – October 26, 2016
Jakob Kolding’s work has long revolved around the experience of life in the contemporary built environment, particularly the relationships and contradictions that emerge between how architectural spaces are planned and how they are actively used. His works incorporate a wide range of source material, sampling and mixing the visual idioms of modernist art and architecture, sociological inquiry, and such popular cultural forms as hip-hop and electronic music. Reflecting a strong scenographic turn in Kolding’s recent practice, the exhibition centered on a group of sculptural figures made from photomontage prints mounted on life-sized wooden armatures.
Curated by Jacob Proctor
April 29 - July 1, 2016
This exhibition of new works by Glagow-based artist, filmmaker, and musician Luke Fowler included the North American premiere of his latest film, For Christian (2016), a cinematic portrait of New York School composer Christian Wolff. Challenging the limits and conventions of documentary form, the 16mm film continued the artist’s ongoing investigations into vanguard thinkers and cultural producers, such as the radical psychiatrist R.D. Laing, Marxist historian E.P. Thompson, or avant-garde composer Cornelius Cardew, figures who are themselves often outsiders to dominant social and historical discourses. Within the exhibition, For Christian was accompanied by Fowler’s rarely seen Tenement Films (2009). Shot and edited on a single 16mm Bolex camera using only available light, the Tenement Films present a series of short, intimate portraits of four otherwise diverse individuals brought together by their shared residence in a Glasgow tenement.
Also on view were two recent suites of color photographs, one shot in the home of Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri (1943-1992), the other in the studio for electronic music at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR), or West German Radio, in Cologne. The first of its kind anywhere in the world, the WDR studio played a key role in the development of electronic music in the postwar period, especially under the artistic direction of composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. While their mode of display initially suggests the systematic logic of the archive, their idiosyncratic typologies resist any drive toward completeness or resolution. And, like his films, Fowler’s casual, even prosaic images document the overlooked subjects, interstitial spaces, and accidental poetry of everyday reality.
Curated by Jacob Proctor
IAN KIAER: ENDNOTE, LEDOUX
February 26 - April 22, 2016
Neubauer Collegium Exhibitions presented new works by London-based artist Ian Kiaer, whose exhibitions take the form of carefully composed landscapes of found objects and materials, architectural models, paintings and sculptures, and projections. Ways of exploring paradigms and testing concepts, these arrangements tend to be provisional rather than permanent, and the questions they raise—What exactly constitutes the category of “painting” today? How do we understand the relationship between sculptural fragment and architectural model?—are both deeply historical and necessarily contingent on their immediate context.
The new works in Endnote, Ledoux continued a larger project that stems from the artist’s longstanding preoccupation with a volume of engravings by the eighteenth-century French architect Claude Nicholas Ledoux, in particular the image of Ledoux’s experimental design for a spherical house for the agricultural guards of Maupertuis. In this visionary image—a building as an uncompromising sphere set in an Arcadian landscape—Kiaer sensed a concern for geometry and symmetry that resonated with the architecture of the Neubauer Collegium's building itself, a former Unitarian seminary on the periphery of the University of Chicago campus.
Curated by Jacob Proctor
VICTOR BURGIN: PRAIRIE
November 20, 2015 – January 29, 2016
This exhibition featured the premiere of Prairie, a new digital projection work by Victor Burgin. Prairie was created as part of Overlay, a collaborative research project undertaken in Spring 2015 by Burgin and D. N. Rodowick with the support of the University of Chicago’s Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry. Overlay focused on the history of “The Mecca” apartment building, built in 1892 and demolished sixty years later as part of the expansion of the Illinois Institute of Design under the plan of Mies van der Rohe, whose Crown Hall now occupies its former site. As in Burgin's recent works, A Place to Read, focused on an Istanbul coffee house by Sedad Haki Eldem, and Mirror Lake, which turns around the Wisconsin “Seth Peterson Cottage” by Frank Lloyd Wright, Prairie responds to specific architectural sites (here, The Mecca and Crown Hall) and explores erased or disappeared cultural histories, real and/or imagined, inscribed in the built environment.
Curated by Jacob Proctor
Presented as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial.
PETRA ANDREJOVA-MOLNÁR: CONTRIBUTION AND COLLABORATION
September 16 – November 13, 2015
This exhibition included works attributed to the Czechoslovakian architect Petra Andrejova-Molnár, an overlooked figure active in the first half of the twentieth century, as realized by artist Katarina Burin in the form of architectural models, drawings, furniture and design objects, photographs, and texts. In presenting Andrejova-Molnár’s work, and the scholarly apparatus around it, Burin simultaneously inserted her into and subtly destabilized the established canon of architectural history—lending voice to female designers while also questioning notions of authorship and authenticity, the relationship between gender and the archive, and the historical tension between national identity and internationalist aspiration. The project highlighted the ways in which historical movements and utopian ideologies are complicated and contradictory formations in a constant state of flux, while also creating a space of play around the mythos of “the architect.”
Curated by Jacob Proctor
Presented as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Support for this exhibition and publication is provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
NO LONGER ART: SALVAGE ART INSTITUTE
April 23 – July 10, 2015
Drawn from the art insurance lexicon, the term “salvage art” refers to works removed from art circulation due to accidental damage. Salvage pieces are subject to a peculiar and transformative actuarial logic. Once “total loss” status has been declared and indemnification has been paid, salvage art is considered officially devoid of value. Its objects are cast into art’s nether world, no longer alive for the market, gallery, or museum system, but often still relatively intact. Salvage art is liberated from the burden of constant valuation and the obligation of exchange, yet abandoned to the invisibility of perpetual storage.
Founded by Elka Krajewska, the Salvage Art Institute (SAI) supplies a refuge for salvaged art pieces. The survival of salvage art even past its total devaluation confronts our common understanding of where art ends, disturbing the distinction, organization, and separation of art from non-art. The SAI offers a platform for exposing, viewing, and encountering the condition of salvage art and provides a forum for engaging the regulation of its financial, aesthetic, and social value.
The Salvage Art Institute’s mandate is to maintain the separation of value from its no longer art inventory. No Longer Art: Salvage Art Institute followed this objective, simultaneously opening the inventory to scrutiny while attempting to momentarily suspend the force of attraction between its objects and value.
No Longer Art: Salvage Art Institute was produced by GSAPP Exhibitions, Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery, Columbia University, and the Salvage Art Institute. Curated by Elka Krajewska and Mark Wasiuta. Exhibition design by Adam Bandler, Elka Krajewska, and Mark Wasiuta. Graphic design by MTWTF. The exhibition was developed with the participation of AXA Art Insurance Corporation. Presented in partnership with the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, with additional support from the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory.