IN/SITU 2016

Curated by Diana Nawi | Pérez Art Museum Miami

The IN/SITU program provides exhibiting galleries the opportunity to showcase large-scale installations and site-specific works by leading artists during EXPO CHICAGO. As a core program, installed within the vast architecture and vaulted ceilings of Navy Pier’s iconic Festival Hall, the strength of the IN/SITU program is its ability to feature major suspended installations in addition to large scale work. Associate Curator at Pérez Art Museum Miami since 2012, Diana Nawi curated the 2016 program. While at PAMM, Nawi has organized newly commissioned projects with Yael Bartana, Nicole Cherubini, Bouchra Khalili, Shana Lutker, LOS JAICHACKERS and Matthew Ronay, among others, as well as organized exhibitions of work by Adler Guerrier and Iman Issa. Most recently, Nawi curated Nari Ward’s mid-career survey and published an accompanying catalogue. Prior to joining PAMM, Nawi worked as an assistant curator on the Abu Dhabi Project of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and served as the Marjorie Susman Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

Past curators include Louis Grachos (2015 | Dr. and Mrs. Ernest C. Butler Executive Director of The Contemporary Austin), Renaud Proch (2014 | Executive Director, Independent Curators International), Shamim M. Momin (2013 | Los Angeles Nomadic Division), and Michael Ned Holte (2012 | writer and independent curator).

Curatorial Statement

A Break in the Code makes visible the underlying structures that order and shape the world around us. Bringing together works from a diverse range of practices—including performance, sculpture, and architecture—this program examines and intervenes into the codes and forms used to demarcate our everyday life, by appropriating or interrupting common gestures and modes of communication, capitalizing on and redeploying systems of power and exchange, and imbuing quotidian experiences with the poetic. The featured artists subvert these systems through performance, appropriation, and unexpected intimations of materials. Illuminating the strangeness of some of our most fundamental structures and objects—whether political, visual, technological, economic, or social—they reveal the constructed and mutable nature of the actual ‘programs’ that shape our lives.

The works included as part of the IN/SITU program address subjects that range from architecture, industry, and the constructed environment, to the election funding system—from illicit and underground economies, to the site of the fair itself. While some artists render the familiar strange, others question language and media, as well as the dynamics of consumer and mass culture. Collectively, the selected works insinuate themselves into the codes that define our lives—suggesting and enacting the possibility that we can reconsider, rethink, and reinvent the world we inhabit in ways both subtle and radical.

Participating Artists

Spencer Finch | Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago
Victoria Fu | Honor Fraser, Los Angeles
Amalie Jakobsen | Efrain Lopez Gallery, Chicago
Shana Lutker | Susanne Vielmetter Gallery Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles
Jillian Mayer | David Castillo Gallery, Miami
Rodney McMillian | MACCARONE, New York, Los Angeles
Julio César Morales | Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco
Bettina Pousttchi | Buchmann Galerie, Berlin, Lugano
Carlos Rolón/Dzine | moniquemeloche, Chicago; Pearl Lam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai; Salon 94, New York
For Freedoms

Checklist of Works

Spencer Finch. Sky Over Coney Island (November 26, 2004, 12:47 pm. Southwest View Over the Cyclone), 2004.

Spencer Finch
Sky Over Coney Island (November 26, 2004, 12:47 pm. Southwest View Over the Cyclone), 2004 
Helium balloons and string 
Overall dimensions variable; each balloon, diameter 11 in. (27.9 cm) 
Courtesy of Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago
(Booth 218)

Spencer Finch’s work uses varied material forms to reflect the particularities of environmental conditions—to capture among other things, the exact color, shade, or luminosity of a fleeting moment tied to place, history, and personal memory. This work creates a color palette using balloons of different hues to match the sky, inserting as many as four balloons of different shades inside one another, and inflating them to different diameters. Finch drove a carload of these blue balloons to Coney Island, and chose the one that most closely matched the color of the sky over the Cyclone, the amusement park's famous wooden roller coaster, at this exact moment in time. Finch selected an ultramarine violet balloon inside a cobalt blue balloon inflated to 11 inches. Each time he exhibits the work, the balloons, which can be gathered in scales ranging from small bouquets to massive clouds, are arranged to these exact specifications—poetically capturing and reiterating an elusive perception through humble, everyday materials.

Victoria Fu
Egg, 2016
Inkjet print on vinyl, dimensions variable

Infinity and Scoop, 2015
30 x 24 and 19 x 30 inches

Courtesy of Honor Fraser, Los Angeles 
(Booth 625)

Created through a layering of analog and virtual processes, Egg is a mix of 16mm film, digital projection and shadow play. Like a "digital photogram" of sorts, Egg references Man Ray's early "rayographs." As a testament to its flexibility as an image file that can be manipulated or adapted to various sites and circumstances, Egg has previously taken on different physical forms such as a two-story museum façade, as well as a stage-lit backdrop to a video installation. In this manifestation for IN/SITU, Egg is a large banner suspended from the ceiling--the image as sign, as brand.

The neon sculptures, Infinity and Scoop, depict and are also titled after patented Apple iOS touchscreen gestures not yet employed in their products. The original Apple diagrams depict arrows indicating how a finger must operate the touchscreen interface; in this case, as neon signage, the arrows are enlarged and animated in blinking neon light to command movement on a viewer's bodily scale. The neons are installed as a digital overlay onto physical space, highlighting the absurdity of these codified gestures from the virtual interface that most likely will be someday programmed into our minds and bodies.

Amalie Jakobsen. Recursive Demarcation, 2016.

Amalie Jakobsen
Recursive Demarcation, 2016
Blackout theater textile, steel, aluminum, dancers, Bluetooth headphone, iPhones
6 x 2.2 x 4.3 meters
Courtesy of Efrain Lopez Gallery, Chicago
(Booth 641)

Recursive Demarcation is a performative installation that examines vision, power structures in public space, and means of occupation. The two mediums—sculpture and performance—offer different approaches to these ideas: the geometric sculpture employs flexible, soft industrial materials, suspended to create a linear drawing in space as temporary architecture whereas the performers, clad in hard aluminum costumes designed after the opening sequence of the film Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo? (1966, Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? by William Klein) offer a dynamic response to the space. The 12 dancers activate the work once daily; they move to music that only they can hear on a Bluetooth earpiece, each listening and responding to different types of music. Their movement will be a manifestation of their own energies in conversation with the sound they hear, and the formal qualities of the sculpture, its shapes, architectural references, and lines. Jakobsen’s project at once embraces and disrupts the autonomy of the sculptural form, suggesting its contingent nature—another form of architecture to be inhabited and through which or against we shape our movement.

Shana Lutker The Dream That Woke Up, 2016.

Shana Lutker
The Dream That Woke Up, 2016
Dimensions variable

Attractive Fool, TBD, 2016
Mirror, wood, lights, hardware, timer, and graphite
48 x 32 x 4 inches

Attractive Fool, OTEHTR (The Dream that Woke Up), 2016
Mirror, wood, lights, hardware, timer, and graphite
48 x 32 x 4 inches

Attractive Fool, TBLA, 2016
Mirror, wood, lights, hardware, timer, and graphite
48 x 32 x 4 inches

Attractive Fool, WOKED, 2016
Mirrored light box and graphite
48 x 32 x 4 inches

Attractive Fool, TBLA vs. TBD, 2016
Mirrored light box and graphite
48 x 32 x 4 inches

Courtesy Susanne Vielmetter Gallery Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles
(Booth 212)

Shana Lutker’s mirrored light boxes and hanging piece offer variations on the sentence, “THE DREAM THAT WOKE UP.” Derived from a 1930 poem by Surrealist poet Robert Desnos, Lutker has been working with the line for several years. In French, the title of the poem is, "J'ai tant rêvé de toi," which translates as, “I’ve Dreamed of You So Much.” But what changes in translation, what is lost? The task of translating poetry is arduous, arguably even impossible, exposing the limits of language, text, and cultural exchange. Much of Lutker’s practice interrogates the subconscious, psychoanalysis, Surrealism, and questions of translation. In her work, dreams are examined as always already failed attempts at rational translations of our unconscious, fragments of narrative caught and held by our waking minds. In the works on view here, Lutker plays with the phrase THE DREAM THAT WOKE UP, writing it in different ways and in different materials in a “font” she made from simple geometric shapes, blurring letters and symbols. These works offer subtle, uncanny moments—repeated encounters with a poignant text that has been fractured and in some instances, rendered illegible—allowing the viewer to move between sentiment and the nonsensical, language and object, experience and mystery.

Jillian Mayer
Slumpie 9 – Knee Hole, 2016
Fiberglass, resin, wood, hardware, oil enamel and acrylic
60 x 44 x 50 inches

Slumpie 10-Lawn Chair, 2016
Fiberglass, resin, wood, hardware, oil enamel and acrylic
82 x 53 x 26 inches

Courtesy of David Castillo Gallery, Miami
(Booth 612)

Jillian Mayer’s Slumpies are a body of sculptures presented as utilitarian objects. Their function is explained by an appropriation of marketing tropes:

With new research indicating that smartphone users spend an average of 4.7 hours on their devices daily, one must wonder why there has not been an increase in production of physical structures that will help support the human body in this journey to connect globally through its phone. It has probably happened to you. You have been at an event, school, a social gathering or an art fair. Your face is tired from communicating with others IRL and your body is tired from standing up straight. You take out your phone to check your e-mails or likes and find your body instantly slumping over your device, text-neck at a record high degree. The human body slumped over their phone in public needs to be addressed at this critical moment in time.

Slumpies acknowledge our ever-increasing relationship with our various devices, relieving us of the need to support our own bodies. They are Mayer’s solution to this endemic problem of our contemporary moment—the type of issue that can arise only in the context of a technologically driven, luxury saturated consumer-oriented marketplace. The clumsily rendered Slumpies, with their bulky shape and strange palette, suggest a lack of conscientious design—an ad-hoc solution made from simple materials that stands in direct contradiction to the sleek forms and designs, and the marketing culture, that defines our intimate dependence on technologies.

Rodney McMillian
Carpet Painting (Bedroom and TV Room), 2012
Carpet and ink
272 x 166 1/2 x 5/8 inches
Courtesy of MACCARONE, New York, Los Angeles
(Booth 423)

Rodney McMillian’s multi-disciplinary practice examines issues around the politics of subjectivity and cultural histories. McMillian employs various mediums to dismantle notions of a fixed subjectivity to challenge the narratives that we have woven for ourselves. Carpet Painting (Bedroom and TV Room), originally included in his exhibition, Prospect Ave., at MACCARONE, New York in 2012, is one of a number of wall-based works McMillian has made using this domestic material, pulled from his own living space. The exhibition’s title was derived from the artist’s previous residence and illuminates his interest in the way in which the home represents a site where subjectivities are constructed, lived, and performed. McMillian employs strategies of appropriation and material transposition to bring the intimacies of the domestic into the realm of the exhibition space, suggesting the way in which private material culture points to questions of class inequities is implicit within the tradition of modernist architecture.

Julio César Morales. Works from the Narco Headlines series, 2015.

Julio César Morales
Works from the Narco Headlines series, 2015
Vinyl, dimensions variable
Courtesy of Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco
(Booth 545)

Julio César Morales’s work seeks to illuminate the strange and the poetic in the political, particularly surrounding issues of displacement, migration, and informal economies. His approach involves extensive research; Morales collects images and anecdotes from media sources related to the often illicit trafficking of goods and people. For Narco Headlines, which was originally presented as a suite of handmade text-based drawings, Morales drew on his archive of internet news headlines relating to drug smuggling methods that were intercepted and thwarted by the authorities. These de-contextualized snippets of language function simultaneously as irreverent, absurdist poem-like testimonials to failed smuggling attempts, while also revealing the desperation-fueled ingenuity of underground economies.

Bettina Pousttchi. Rotunda, 2016.

Bettina Pousttchi
Rotunda, 2016
Photographic print on textile
Diameter 25 ft
Courtesy of Buchmann Galerie, Berlin, Lugano
(Booth 526)           

Bettina Pousttchi best known for her large-scale public photographic interventions covering entire building facades. For her suspended piece at EXPO CHICAGO, the artist has used her own photographs of patterned, blackened oak beams of historic half-timbered houses in Germany as a starting point. The historic elements are isolated and arranged in ornamental patterns, thus displacing the original reference and transposing the fixed gravity of architecture into dynamically reconfigured decorative elements which float above viewers. The work combines the language of these historic houses in European architecture with that of ornamental patterns of the Middle East. This interlacing of architectural histories and material culture reflects the artist’s central interest in creating a transnational visual language.

Taking place simultaneously with EXPO CHICAGO, both the Hirshhorn Museum and the Phillips Collection in Washington DC host solos shows of Pousttchi’s work. In Spring 2017, the artist will realize a site-specific photo installation at The Arts Club of Chicago. See more information here. 

Carlos Rolón/Dzine
Nomadic Habitat (Hustleman), 2015
Vendor Cart, mixed media, wood, fabric, steel, gold leaf, lights, shells, fabric, chair, rug, ceramic tiles and commercial goods for sale
103 x 54 x 90 inches
Courtesy of moniquemeloche, Chicago (Booth 206); Pearl Lam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai (Booth 442); Salon 94, New York (Booth 426)

This customized vending cart and collaboration with Chicago street vendor Garland Gantt was initially created for the Chicago Architectural Biennial in collaboration with The Arts Incubator, Art + Public Life initiative at the University of Chicago. The artist brings the urban street into the white cube by inserting a readymade commercial enterprise into an audience-centered environment. An important source for the structure of the cart is The Habitat Marocain built in Casablanca in the mid-1950s in response to the urban expansion of Casablanca, then under French control. Swiss architects, André Studer and Jean Hentsch, believed that their specially designed housing plans were tailor made for the indigenous population, taking into account their particular requirements. The symbiosis between Nomadic Habitat and The Habitat Marocain highlights the artwork’s utilitarian and architectural approach, illuminating the same contradictions between cultural assumptions and the lived realities of passing inhabitants. Through this, the work exposes the complex relations between ethnographic imagination, and the synthesis with design. Realized with funding by: Art + Public Life initiative at the University of Chicago with additional support from Theaster Gates, Eric McKissack, Amy and John Phelan

For Freedoms, 2016.

For Freedoms
As part of the inclusion of For Freedoms in the IN/SITU program, the organization has been invited to curate a selection of works

Founded by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms encourages new forms of critical discourse surrounding the upcoming 2016 presidential election. The medium for this project is American democracy, and the mission is to support the effort to reshape it into a more transparent and representative form. Rather than representing at a symbolic level, this project appropriates and redeploys what has now become a guiding force in politics in the United States, the super PAC—a “political action committee” that can raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions, and individuals in indirect, and often untraceable, support for politicians, parties, and causes. Inspired by American artist Norman Rockwell’s paintings of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear–from 1941, this super PAC aims to subvert a “Rockwellian” nostalgia for a “simpler” America while co-opting a visual language that is accessible to a wide audience of viewers. As reported in the New York Times, this organization is raising “funds for national advertising, much of it based on original artworks, offering diverse views on issues such as campaign reform, racism, gender equality, gun control, reproductive rights and freedom of expression.”

We believe that artists, and art, play an important role in galvanizing our society to do better. We are frustrated with a system in which money, divisiveness, and a general lack of truth-telling have stifled complex conversation. We created the first artist-run super Pac because we believe it's time for artists to become more involved in the political process.