Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Chicago, IL

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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Chicago Works: Assaf Evron
Jul 23, 2019–Feb 16, 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.

Commons Artist Project: Brendan Fernandes, A Call and Response
Through Oct 13, 2019

Brendan Fernandes’s dance-based installation in the Commons, entitled A Call and Response, explores the ways society sees and values different kinds of bodies. Using language, architecture, and gesture to understand the nature of being seen, Fernandes encourages dancers–and visitors–to collaborate and generate new forms of physical language that move and attract other bodies in space.

Fernandes (Kenyan, b. 1979) seeks to isolate everyday actions, such as running for the bus or slinging a bag over your shoulder, considering individuals’ movements in social spaces as a kind of choreography. Over the course of the exhibition, the artist poses the question: How do the shapes of our bodies and our physical proximity to others affect our sense of visibility?

The Commons Artist Project: Brendan Fernandes is organized by January Parkos Arnall, Curator of Public Programs, with Christy LeMaster, Assistant Curator of Public Programs.

The Commons Artist Project is a biannual exhibition series that provides a platform for artists to create commissioned installations that consider the big issues of our time. The projects provide direct opportunities for visitors to interact with the works and ideas of local and regional artists of national recognition.

Virgil Abloh: “Figures of Speech
Through Sep 22, 2019

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago presents Virgil Abloh: "Figures of Speech," the first museum exhibition devoted to the work of the genre-bending artist and designer Virgil Abloh (American, b. 1980). Abloh pioneers a practice that cuts across media and connects visual artists, musicians, graphic designers, fashion designers, and architects.

Abloh cultivated an interest in design and music at an early age, finding inspiration in the urban culture of Chicago. While pursuing a master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology, he connected with Kanye West and joined West’s creative team to work on album covers, concert designs, and merchandising. In 2013, Abloh founded his stand-alone fashion brand Off-White™ in Milan, Italy, and in 2018 assumed the position of Men’s Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton.

Set in an immersive space designed by Samir Bantal, the Director of AMO, the research studio of Rem Koolhaas's renowned architectural firm OMA, the MCA exhibition will offer an in-depth look at defining highlights of Abloh's career including a program of cross-disciplinary offerings that will mirror the artist’s range of interests across music, fashion, architecture, and design.

The exhibition is organized by Michael Darling, James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator, with curatorial assistance from Chanon Kenji Praepipatmongkol, Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow. It is presented in the Griffin Galleries of Art on the museum’s fourth 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.

Can You Hear Me Now?
Apr 27–Sep 29, 2019

Drawn largely from the MCA collection, the works in Can You Hear Me Now? deal with breakdowns in communication and our inability to hear each other in polarized political climates. The exhibition asks the viewer to consider the proliferation of sound: which messages merit amplification, and which are unduly stifled? The artists in Can You Hear Me Now? explore the individual’s struggle to communicate on levels ranging from the personal to the governmental, addressing which voices are supported or silenced. The exhibition surveys a world in which we are unable to engage in meaningful conversations without succumbing to political apathy.

The exhibition is organized by Bana Kattan, Barjeel Global Fellow. It is presented in the Cohen and Stone Family Galleries on the museum’s fourth floor.

Jonathas de Andrade: One to One
Apr 13–Aug 25, 2019\

At once intimate and historical, the work of Brazilian artist Jonathas de Andrade evokes love, memory, and place. His photographs, installations, and videos often respond to the geography and culture surrounding Recife, the city in the northeast region of Brazil in which he lives and works. He grapples in particular with the promises, failures, and inequities in Brazil’s Nordeste as the region undergoes rapid and often rocky urbanization. The exhibition debuts three new works, including Jogos dirigidos (Directed games), a film commissioned by the MCA that presents a playful exchange between members of the deaf community in the northeast of Brazil.

The exhibition is curated by José Esparza Chong Cuy, former Pamela Alper Associate Curator, with Nina Wexelblatt, Curatorial Assistant. It is presented in the Bergman Family Gallery on the museum’s second floor.

Lead support for Jonathas de Andrade: One to One 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 and Joe Szokol, Linda and Bill Friend, and Stephanie and John Harris; the Margot and W. George Greig Ascendant Artist Fund; R.H. Defares; and the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation.

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

Generous support is provided by Jon Lehman and Zach Huelsing; Alexander and Bonin; GALLERIA CONTINUA, San Gimignano / Beijing / Les Moulins / Habana; Vermelho; Vicki and Bill Hood; Melissa Weber and Jay Dandy; and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

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.

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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