EXPO Chicago, the International Exposition of Modern & Contemporary Art, in partnership with Navy Pier and the Chicago Architecture Biennial, will present the highly-anticipated collaboration between renowned contemporary artist Nick Cave and internationally-acclaimed architect and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang for Here Hear Chicago, a new work that incorporates art, design and performance. The signature project will be featured at Navy Pier this fall as part of the public programming for EXPO Chicago—launching during Vernissage, the opening night preview of the exposition benefiting the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago—and the Chicago Architecture Biennial (September 16, 2017–January 7, 2018).
“Since its inception six years ago, Navy Pier has been home to EXPO Chicago, hosting international collectors, curators and art enthusiasts each September," said EXPO Chicago’s president and director Tony Karman. “We are grateful that this dynamic collaboration between two of Chicago’s leading art and architectural voices had been timed to launch on the opening day of this year's exposition, further amplifying our extensive partnership with the Biennial and Navy Pier."
As part of Here Hear Chicago, the locally-based Cave and Gang are set to present a series of live productions in which performers will intersect and respond to a field of dynamic, custom-fabricated objects designed by Gang and her practice, Studio Gang—who also designed the layout of EXPO Chicago in 2012. The performance series includes Cave’s newest performance work, Up Right, and internationally acclaimed HEARD, where dancers perform in Cave’s famed Soundsuits, taking the form of colorful, life-size horses that dance to live music and percussion. Both pieces will be accompanied by Chicago’s most talented musicians, including jazz artist Kahil El Zabar, the Chicago Children’s Choir and others. These and other performances by local artists will be defined by Gang-designed elements.
“Navy Pier is thrilled to bring together the inspiring and imaginative works of two creative powerhouses, Nick Cave and Jeanne Gang, with the support of our collaborating organizations—the Chicago Architecture Biennial and EXPO Chicago—and our foundation partners, the Chicago Free For All Fund, the Joyce Foundation and the Graham Foundation,” said Navy Pier Chief Programming and Civic Engagement Officer Michelle T. Boone. “The Here Hear Chicago project is exactly the type of work that is furthering the Pier’s mission of becoming a leading cultural destination, locally and globally, as more and more guests are starting to turn to Chicago’s lakefront treasure for free, dynamic and eclectic experiences.”
The first performance is scheduled for Wednesday, September 13 in Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom at 8 p.m., during Vernissage, the opening night benefit of EXPO Chicago (September 13 – 17, 2017). On Saturday, September 16, the program will move outdoors to Navy Pier’s Polk Bros Performance Lawn and South Dock at 5 p.m. as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. The full Here Hear Chicago schedule will be released later this summer. All performances are free and open to the public, with limited and first-come-first-served seating available in the Aon Grand Ballroom.
“Up Right Chicago is a call to arms, head and heart, with each performance preparing the initiates’ mind, body and spirit to face the forces that stand in the way of selfhood,” said Cave. “Through movement, ritual and song, performers enter a world they have complete control over, like warriors of their own destiny.” Each performance includes 10 initiates – or members of the community – invited to participate by Cave, 10 practitioners – including Cave and partner Bob Faust, and live music composed and performed by El Zabar, along with six musicians and a vocalist.
Cave’s expressive art pairs imaginatively with Studio Gang’s innovative designs to create a playground of interaction for visitors to experience and enjoy. Building upon the participatory nature of Cave’s work, Studio Gang’s objects will define a flexible space for performance, responding to the spontaneous interactions of performers and the public.
“Like Cave’s works, the objects blur the boundary between audience and performer,” said Gang. “People will engage with the objects, making them performative and expanding the collaboration to the city of Chicago.” Here Hear Chicago builds upon Studio Gang’s history of design projects that connect people in the public realm, including the Nature Boardwalk and Pavilion at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and Hive, an interactive installation opening July 4 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.
The Cave-Gang collaboration is also part of a series of special projects initiated by the Chicago Architecture Biennial, which provides a platform for groundbreaking architectural projects and spatial experiments that demonstrate how creativity and innovation can radically transform our lived experience. The kickoff of the 2017 Biennial will align with the sixth annual EXPO Chicago.
“As we’ve done by inviting six museums throughout the city to participate in this year’s Biennial, working with Navy Pier will showcase another cultural gem that makes this city so special,” said Chicago Architecture Biennial Board Chairman, Jack Guthman. “Visitors to Chicago will be able to see the exciting exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center and then extend their trip to additional destinations around the city.”
Here Hear Chicago is supported by a lead grant from the Chicago Free For All Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Chicago Community Trust. The Chicago Free For All Fund was established for the purpose of supporting and promoting free cultural activities and events in the city of Chicago, with a primary focus on the performing arts and interactive visual arts.
Additional funding for the program comes from the Joyce Foundation, which works to support artists and arts organizations in Chicago and the Great Lakes region. The project is also supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, which makes project-based grants to individuals and organizations, and produces public programs to foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture and society.
Tickets to the Expo Chicago are currently available at expochicago.com.
Chicago architect Jeanne Gang (photo courtesy of Ms. Gang).
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts