Today the Chicago Architecture Biennial is excited to announce a group of special projects by designers, artists, and performers presented in partnership with five extraordinary venues in and around Chicago. These projects are part of Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee's vision for Make New History, which asks innovative designers and artists to reinterpret a series of historic spaces from contemporary perspectives.
Francois Perrin and SO–IL with Ana Prvački at the Garfield Park Conservatory
At the Garfield Park Conservatory, Biennial participant Francois Perrin will install an architectural experiment in the tropical microclimate of the Palm House entitled Air Houses: Design for a New Climate. The lightweight, fabric structure will offer a new perspective on environmental crisis by reinterpreting long-standing traditions of design in harmony with nature.
The Conservatory will also be the site of a poetic collaboration by architects SO–IL and artist Ana Prvački called L’air pour l’air. They have created an ensemble of air-filtering mesh enclosures, designed to be worn by musicians playing a composition for wind instruments by the composer Veronica Kraussas. The musical piece will debut during the Biennial's opening week and the public will then be invited to learn more about mask/shelter enclosures, which are inspired by the plants in the Conservatory, during ongoing educational sessions taking place throughout the Biennial. The project touches on the continuities between people, objects, and nature through a medium as ubiquitous as air.
Gerard & Kelly at the Farnsworth House
Multidisciplinary performance artists Gerard & Kelly will present a new chapter of their site-specific project, Modern Living, with performances on September 16 and 17 at the iconic Farnsworth House in nearby Plano, IL, designed in 1945 by Mies van der Rohe for the patron Edith Farnsworth. Initially a pioneer of modernist architecture, commissioning Mies to design a radical statement for living, Farnsworth famously found the transparency of the house unlivable. These performances build upon the first two chapters of Modern Living at the Schindler House in West Hollywood, California, and Phillip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan Connecticut, in which Gerard & Kelly used the architecture as choreography for relationships to propose new modes of intimacy not only between the dancers but also among performers and spectators. At the Farnsworth House, Gerard & Kelly will create a choreographic score deploying three dancers in temporary constellations of solos, duos, and trios, spread throughout the interior and exterior spaces of the site, all reflecting on the condition of solitude.
The City Gallery in the Historic Water Tower
The Historic Water Tower arts space in downtown Chicago will host a video installation of Gerard & Kelly's two previous chapters of Modern Living, which were staged at Phillip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan, CT, and the Rudolph Schindler House in West Hollywood, CA — homes that sheltered relationships as radical and experimental as their designs.
The gallery will also feature an exhibition of James Welling’s psychedelic, colorized images of the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive Apartments, both also by Mies van der Rohe. Welling's layered, multiple-exposure images breathe new life into these modern masterpieces and suggest infinitely new ways of reinterpreting the past.
The Chicago Cultural Center
Visitors to the Cultural Center and Millennium Park will also be able to view James Welling’s Chicago images at a larger-than-life scale, installed on the facade of the building itself. This project and the photographs at the Historic Water Tower are part of A Love of the World, a group of works curated by Jesús Vasallo within the main exhibition that represents some of the most innovative architectural photographers working today.
Nick Cave and Jeanne Gang at Navy Pier
The Biennial is also partnering with Navy Pier and EXPO CHICAGO to bring a collaborative, site-specific performance created by artist Nick Cave and architect Jeanne Gang to the lakefront during the opening of the Biennial. Performers wearing Cave's iconic "soundsuits" will interact with audience members and incorporate objects custom-designed by Studio Gang in a festive salute to Chicago's creative spirit. The first public performance will take place on Saturday, September 16, with a full schedule to be announced later this summer.
These unique events and installations will be joined by a city-wide series of public programs by the Biennial and over 100 partner organizations. Stay tuned for more information and an RSVP portal coming soon.