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Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Chicago, IL
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MCA Building exterior at night. Photo: Peter McCullough, © MCA Chicago

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 E Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
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The Shape of the Future
Oct 19, 2019–Apr 5, 2020
Carol & Douglas Cohen Gallery: Fourth Floor, North Side

The Shape of the Future features works from the MCA permanent collection that reckon with the dubious dream of a universal design language. Coinciding with the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, the exhibition explores global modernism as a framework for utopia and speculative world making, marked by traces of labor, political fantasy, and cultural turmoil. Highlighting the histories and ideologies embedded in the built environment, these artists reveal the complexity—and at times absurdity—of the modernist project as a collection of disasters and reveries.

The exhibition is organized by Nina Wexelblatt, Curatorial Assistant. It is presented in the Cohen and Stone Family Galleries on the museum’s fourth floor.

Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces
Oct 2, 2019 – Mar 8, 2020

Using absurdist satire to address critical issues of our time, Mika Rottenberg (Argentinian, b. 1976) offers subversive allegories for contemporary life. Her videos and installations interweave documentation with fiction, and often feature protagonists in factory-like settings who manufacture goods ranging from cultured pearls to millions of brightly colored plastic items sold wholesale in Chinese superstores. Presenting several recent projects including Rottenberg’s newest video installation Spaghetti Blockchain (2019), which explores ancient and contemporary ideas about materialism, the exhibition traces central themes in the artist’s oeuvre, such as labor, technology, and the interconnectedness of the mechanical and the bodily.

The exhibition is organized by Margot Norton, curator at the New Museum, New York. The MCA’s presentation of the exhibition has been coorganized by Bana Kattan, Barjeel Global Fellow. It is presented in the Bergman Family Gallery on the museum’s second floor.
Funding

Lead support is provided by the Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris: Caryn and King Harris, Katherine Harris, Toni and Ron Paul, Pam Szokol, Linda and Bill Friend, and Stephanie and John Harris; the Margot and W. George Greig Ascendant Artist Fund; Zell Family Foundation; Cari and Michael Sacks; and Julie and Larry Bernstein.
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Chicago Works: Assaf Evron
Jul 23, 2019–Jan. 6, 2020

The MCA is pleased to present the first solo US museum exhibition of work by Assaf Evron (Israeli, b. 1977). Running concurrently with the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the exhibition features new and recent works that dwell at the interstice of architecture, ornamentation, place, and image. A former photojournalist, Evron applies what he calls a “photographic logic”—his camera’s capacity to simultaneously document the resolutely volumetric world in all its plentitude and flatten it into an image—to subjects ranging from skyscrapers to underground quarries. Through acts of translation between three and two dimensions, the artist explores how built and natural environments are used as surfaces for projections of cultural, political, and economic ideologies and expressions of power.

This exhibition includes new works based on the artist’s photographs of structures and spaces in both Israel and Chicago that feature the meander, a ubiquitous decorative motif derived from the natural curves of rivers and streams. Untitled (Kikar Rabin, American Accents) (2019) references the Greek key motif, a type of meander, used on the stone pavement of Tel Aviv’s Kikar Rabin (Rabin Square)—the seat of city hall and the site of political protests, state-sponsored rituals, and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. Evron’s sculpture meditates on how the Greek key serves as both a surface announcing democratic ideals around civic assembly (associated with ancient Greece) and an urgent reminder of what the artist considers to be democratic failures in Israel. For a series of related photographs, Evron trained his lens on some of Chicago’s iconic skyscrapers, including the southern and eastern facades of the Monadnock Building, the world’s largest office building at the time of its construction in 1893 and an early testament to the technological ingenuity and capitalist ambition during a period of rapid modernization and urbanization. Evron invites viewers to compare the historic and continued significance of the Greek key and other decorative surfaces that meander and meet as images across the world, accruing new significance in each encounter.

The exhibition is organized by Charlotte Ickes, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow. It is presented in the Dr. Paul and Dorie Sternberg Family Gallery and Ed and Jackie Rabin Gallery on the museum’s third floor.

Fragments of a Crucifixion
Through Nov 3, 2019
McCormick Tribune Gallery (Second Floor, North Side)

Artists have used the crucifixion of Christ as a powerful symbol to address suffering and redemption in the history of racial violence in the United States. Fragments of a Crucifixion explores the continuing relevance of the crucifixion, even as our society becomes increasingly diverse in its religious beliefs. Rather than depict the image of the crucifixion itself, artworks in this exhibition offer only fragments—incomplete images and narratives. These works invoke agony and ecstasy through bodily traces and scenes of absence and loss. Featuring works in the MCA Collection, this show is dedicated to the spiritual in art, and to art’s capacity to evoke life and love in the face of brutality.

The exhibition is organized by Chanon Kenji Praepipatmongkol, Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow. It is presented in the McCormick Tribune Orientation Gallery on the museum’s second floor.

Atrium Project: Ellen Berkenblit
May 4–Nov 24, 2019

The latest installment of the MCA’s second-floor lobby atrium project features a mural by New York–based artist Ellen Berkenblit (American, b. 1958). This new work, titled Leopard’s Lane (2019), continues two recent themes in the artist’s painting practice, the expressive potential of cats, and the inherent energy of urban elements such as trucks, stoplights, and smokestacks. For the past several years, Berkenblit has incorporated a striped, tigerlike cat into her works, finding endless compositional potential in a simplified, even cartoonish profile, that remains relatively constant. This tactic of using schematic witches, birds, clocks, flowers, and horses as starting points for complex exercises in color, surface, and space has guided much of her work. Here, that cat has grown into a menacing leopard let loose in a dark landscape, sharing space with a box truck and an abstracted chimney. Honing her craft since her professional debut in the early 1980s, Berkenblit has arrived at a place of artistic assuredness where scale, orientation, and different degrees of completion or virtuosity are all up for grabs, in service to an overall goal of making images that are captivating, dynamic, and unforgettable.

Leopard's Lane is organized by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator. It can be seen in the second-floor atrium.

Prisoner of Love
Jan 26–Oct 27, 2019

Love Is The Message, The Message Is Death, by acclaimed artist and filmmaker Arthur Jafa, is a multilayered seven-minute montage about the experience of living in the United States. The video tells a story of trauma and transcendence in a flurry of footage—from historic speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama, to clips of cultural icons Beyoncé and Notorious B.I.G., to flashes of concerts, home movies, news footage, music videos, and sports matches—all set to a soaring gospel-inspired anthem.

Centered around this filmic journey, the exhibition features a rotating body of work from the MCA's collection inspired by the titular themes in Bruce Nauman's iconic neon Life, Death, Love, Hate, Pleasure, Pain. The work's title establishes the themes of three rotating groups of artwork in the exhibition’s final gallery: life and death, love and hate, and pleasure and pain. Powerful, moving works by artists such as Deana Lawson, Glenn Ligon, Kerry James Marshall, Marilyn Minter, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Carrie Mae Weems alternate throughout the run of the show.

The exhibition is curated by Naomi Beckwith, Manilow Senior Curator. It is presented in the Sylvia Neil and Daniel Fischel Galleries on the museum's second floor.
Funding

Lead support for Prisoner of Love is provided by The Pritzker Traubert Collection Exhibition Fund.

Major support is provided by Cari and Michael J. Sacks.

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