2018 Symposium

Present Histories: Art & Design in Chicago

A curated component of the full /Dialogues program, presented in partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the third annual Symposium will feature a day-long series of discussions and provocative discourse with artists, curators, and professionals on the current issues that engage them.

Presented in alignment with Art Design Chicago and the Terra Foundation for American Art, the program will trace select artistic and design legacies produced in the city, spanning from 1968–2018, as well as their impact on the larger social, aesthetic, and cultural movements from the twentieth-century to the present. Entitled Present Histories: Art & Design in Chicago, the Symposium will trace the provocative positions that Chicago’s alternative models have shaped, and continue to impact internationally, across fields of art, design, and culture. Looking at the term ‘present’—both as an act of portrayal and demonstration, as well as a tense, of being current—the Symposium will focus on how certain movements founded in the city have been generated, assimilated, and reimagined in our contemporary moment. Resisting a linear canon of art history, the Symposium will question how these histories have been woven into the fabric of mainstream consciousness, and have been reconsidered anew, featuring panels, performative interventions, screenings, and book signings with some the city’s most influential creative figures. Presented in partnership with the Terra Foundation for American Art and Art Design Chicago.


Symposium Schedule | Friday, September 28

Performance: Révérence 

Brendan Fernandes (Artist | Monique Meloche Gallery) 

Initiating the Symposium, Artist Brendan Fernandes (b. 1979 in Nairobi, Kenya) stages a site-specific iteration of his performative work Révérence (2015), featuring a series of choreographed dancers to both welcome and confront the audience. Using his training in classical ballet, alongside his unique cultural background as a Kenyan-Indian-Canadian, the performance features classically-trained dancers from the Joffrey Academy of Dance to question identity and power dynamics. Révérence features a collaboration with the Joffrey Academy of Dance.

Brendan Fernandes | In Conversation with Sarah Thornton

Join author and sociologist of culture Sarah Thornton for this featured conversation with Chicago-based artist Brendan Fernandes. The discussion will trace the impact of Fernandes’ work, as well as the role of performance in his practice, which questions positions of power, control and ‘queering space.’ 

AfriCOBRA: Chicago in the Age of Black Power 

Featuring | Gerald Williams (Artist | Kavi Gupta Gallery, Founding Member of AfriCOBRA). 

This panel is presented in alignment with Art Design Chicago exhibitions at the Smart Museum of Art and the DuSable Museum of African American History, South Side Stories: Rethinking Chicago Art, 1960–1980 and South Side Stories: Holdings, which focuses on the Black Arts Movement—from the Civil Rights Movement to AfriCOBRA. 

Alterity and the Exhibition Environment: Feminist History of Alternative Spaces in Chicago 

Panelists | Lynne Warren (Adjunct Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago), Torkwase Dyson (Artist | Rhona Hoffman Gallery), and Kay Rosen (Artist | Alexander Gray and Associates, ARC Member). Moderated by Jenni Sorkin (SAIC BFA 1999), Associate Professor, History of Art & Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Alternative spaces are often discussed within the canon of Chicago’s exhibition history. Yet, these spaces also played a parallel role in the activities that defined feminist art and social practice in the city’s scene. This conversation will trace the histories and roles of feminism in Chicago's alternative spaces from the 1970s to the present. 

Publication Launch | Art in Chicago: A History from the Fire to Now

Edited by Maggie Taft and Robert Cozzolino (Judith Kirshner, Consulting Editor and Erin Hogan, Sidebars Editor). Chapter Authors: Wendy Greenhouse, Jennifer Jane Marshall, Maggie Taft, Robert Cozzolino, Rebecca Zorach and Jenni Sorkin.

Published by the Terra Foundation for American Art, this newly launched publication will be available for a book signing at the /Dialogues Stage through the University of Chicago Press. 

Screening | Designers in Film: A Glimpse into the Goldsholl Archive

A screening of select films and reels produced by Goldsholl and Associates—whose films, television ads and other moving image work innovated “designs-in-film”—will be on view at the /Dialogues Stage, as an interlude to the final conversation in the Symposium on Chicago’s Mid-Century impact on the advertising and commercial industry at large.

Making the Modern Image: Mid-Century Commercial Industry in Chicago

Panelists | Theaster Gates (Artist | Rebuild Foundation), Corinne Granof (Curator of Academic Programs, Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University) and Lara Allison (Lecturer, Art History, Theory and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago). Moderated by Michael Golec (Associate Professor, Art History, Theory and Criticism, SAIC).

Through recent exhibitions that relate the advertising and commercial publications industries to the context of contemporary art, this discussion will trace Chicago’s contribution to the glossy image that defined the Mid-Century aesthetic. Examining the political, social and cultural impact of these design philosophies, this panel will look at the national impact of firms and companies whose work pushed industry boundaries through avant-garde approaches.