Detroit USA: Material, Site, Narrative


Detroit, USA: Material, Site, Narrative

This exhibition investigates the dynamic and ever-shifting creative, cultural, and physical topography of this city. Engaging Detroit as material, site, and narrative, the artists’ work comes in dialogue with the city’s social, cultural, built, and natural environments.

In exploring the Motor City, questions arose of how to negotiate the narratives that have come to represent it. As created by the city’s residents, visitors, and media, these depictions (sometimes conflicting and sometimes complementary) pose challenges to deciphering and selecting which portrayals to incorporate, and which ones to leave out.

The invited Detroit artists and archive materials represent different approaches of how artists, makers, and activists respond to these questions and challenge their city as a resource for artistic production. In addition, some works and documents present a history of the city, offering insights into the development process of what, how, and who have come to thrive in contemporary Detroit.

Detroit USA features ephemera from the city’s historical collections, the Living Archive from the research residence FILTER DETROIT, Detroit artists and designers:

Danielle Aubert and Maia Asshaq, Jon Brumit, Kate Daughdrill and Mira Burack, Design 99, Scott Hocking, Chido Johnson, jessica Care moore, Catie Newell, Gilda Snowden, Corine Vermeulen

and work by these SAIC students works developed during recent study trips to Detroit: Kendall Martin Babl, Lise Ross Baggesen, Anna Rose Castellanos, Inah Choe, Jacob Dimuzio, Eunsil Drew, Jason Matthew Friedes, Tucker Brooks Hugge, Brittany Hayward, Kennedy Howard Jones, Tara Lynn Morton, and Erin T Toale

Curators: Kevin Kaempf, Kirsten Leenaars and Kerstin Niemann

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

August 15, 2012

All Will Be Revealed (Proper Soccer with Industry of the Ordinary)

Industry of the Ordinary (Adam Brooks and Mathew Wilson) will be having a mid-career retrospective: Industry of the Ordinary: 2003–2013, Sic Transit Gloria Mundi in the main exhibition hall on the fourth floor of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington Street, Chicago, Illinois 60602 and throughout the entire building and beyond. The exhibition opens with a reception and related events on Friday the 17th of August from 5:30 – 7:30pm, with a catalog signing by the artists from 5:00 – 6:00pm

Rather than a conventional survey of their practice, this show will seek to engage new audiences for both their practice and for the Cultural Center itself. Through projects to be carried out both on and off site, Industry of the Ordinary (IOTO) will work with artists and communities around the city to establish new ways of creating art and dialogue. Ill be showing a video as part of their Portrait Project: All Will Be Revealed (Proper Soccer with Industry of the Ordinary).


Residency at Hyde Park Art Center

July 22, 2012

Kirsten Web

June 18 – August 5, 2012

Through June and July, Kirsten Leenaars works in every corner of the Art Center to develop a participatory science fiction movie, HPAC and the Invasion of the Hairy Blobs. Conversations with staff and board members, teachers, students and visitors about their engagement with the Art Center formed the basis for the script, characters, and storyline. Leenaars invited participants to play themselves in a fictional depiction of the Art Center.
 She and her crew shot the film on-site, making use of the existing architecture of the building in combination with site-specific props and set design. Over the course of her residency, Leenaars periodically amended and changed the mural in Gallery 1, part of the exhibitionHairy Blob curated by Adelheid Mers, to function both as backdrop and storyboard for the movie.
 HPAC and the Invasion of the Hairy Blobs takes as its focus the Art Center’s mission, looking ahead to its 75th anniversary, which will take place in 2014. Leenaars explores the stakes, the participants, and the ambitions of an institutional space. The project imagines the Art Center as a tightly-run ship on a mission with an exciting voyage ahead, halted by a group of mysterious furry visitors who seem to take over, making time seem to disappear…

Kirsten Leenaars is a collector of personal stories. She considers them tools to understand the way people interact and develop and sustain relationships. Leenaars often works with specific communities, incorporating them into her work to explore the nature of human interactions, professional and personal, real and fictional. Recent projects include a soap opera series developed working with staff and visitors of the MCA over a two month research period and as part of the exhibition Without You I Am Nothing. Leenaars was named a 2012 break-out artist by Jason Foumberg, art editor for New City. She has shown and developed projects at the MCA, Threewalls, 6018 North, and Gallery 400 within Chicago, and at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam, Kunst Fabrik, Munchen and was part of the LOOP Festival in Barcelona and the Traveling Tehran Biennale. Leenaars is an Assistant Professor in Contemporary Practices at SAIC.

NewCity Breakout Artist 2012

May 7, 2012

Kirsten Leenaars’ current video project is her largest, most ambitious production to date, which is fitting, considering that her topic—happiness—is no small matter. Leenaars was prompted last year by curator Tricia Van Eck to explore some specific questions: Who is responsible for happiness? What is the relationship between happiness and public policy? Acting as a neighborhood artist-in-residence, Leenaars opened a pop-up space in Edgewater to interview the ward’s alderman, community activists, students and anybody who felt like walking in and talking about what happiness means to them—in total, forty-eight people from the 48th ward. “What drives me to make work,” says Leenaars, “is the simple understanding that in one way or another we are all connected, all human, all in the business of being human with all our flaws, projections, desires, hopes and fears.” A police commander, decades on the job, came in and, somewhat surprisingly, opened a conversation about the inherent goodness of people.

The community interviews became material for a script. A film set was built at the Senn High School auditorium, in Edgewater, with students acting as community members and community members acting as themselves. Potholes and bedbugs— major barriers to widespread happiness—became part of the drama’s chorus, although the script was open and loose. Actors were asked to improvise and perform the vignettes through bodily movements and actions. Like her soap opera video series, “On Our Way to Tomorrow” at the MCA and “Hairy Blob” at the Hyde Park Art Center, in which art administrators enact their daily, behind-the-scenes activities, the “Happiness” video will turn out like a piece of creative nonfiction where the issues are heightened, abstracted and edited. “I didn’t come up with any solutions,” says Leenaars about the happiness question, but she did find that the sense of belonging in a community is a powerful, perhaps universal, feeling. “I am a bit of an eternal optimist,” she says.



The Hairy Blob at HPAC

April 25, 2012

In our world time is becoming unruly. We do not know how this is happening, but it is happening. The fabric of time is beginning to tear…
During a multi-week, June-July residency period at HPAC, Leenaars will create a science fiction video about daily life at the Hyde Park Art Center in which the center is transformed into a flagship on a time mission. A wall drawing at the space will allude to the unfolding plot lines and will constantly change and be updated throughout the residency period. The production of the video can be followed on the Hairy Blob website and the final video will be screened at HPAC from July 16th- July 29, 2012.
Rising and Falling Actions. (Everything is imprinted forever with what it once is)
Video and wall drawing
Completion: April 22- July 15, 2012
Screening final video: July 16- July 29, 2012
Installment 1 (april 21, 2012) of wall drawing at HPAC: Exposition
Opening Hairy Blob, April 22, 2012
Opening Reception: Sunday April 22 3-5 pm
At Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell, Chicago
Astro Space Party

Predictions for WO 3.20.12 with Kirsten Leenaars

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21, 2012 AT 12:57PM
It’s an exciting week here at Astro Space Party, as we are proud to present a collaborative video by Kirsten Leenaars – hooray! Kirsten is a true impresario, transforming and synthesizing collected narratives into smart, pervasive works that transcend distinctions between media disciplines with such voracious abandon, we’re left wondering what has ever kept us contained. Kirsten recently turned the MCA into a thirteen episode interactive soap opera (yes – really) for a project called On Our Way to Tomorrow, curated by Tricia Van Eck.Kirsten made this week’s video with her TA Kendall Babl and their Core, Spring 2012, SAIC students:Aileen Ng, Ali Gutowski, Alejandra Ramirez, Camille Laut, Jae Oh, James Lee, Jemma Hyung, Kennedy Jones, Pil Jae Choi, Siyu Xu,
and Zaine Smart.
Many thanks to all the artists involved! I hear the making was a real astro space party ♥.;)
for video:

Living by Example

@ Northeastern Illinois University Fine Arts Center 550 N St. Louise Chicago IL 60625

Opening Friday, February 17th, from 6PM – 9PM. On view through Friday, March 16th

Living By Example is an exhibition focusing on the continued rise and growing popularity of Chicago-based artist-run “apartment exhibitions.” For this exhibition Edra Soto and Dan Sullivan are creating a structure within the confines of a traditional gallery space. The Franklin, the name given to the structure, is being built in the form of a modern shed which, once the exhibition is complete, will reside in the backyard of Soto and Sullivan’s home and will act as their version of the common “apartment exhibition” space.

The exhibition featured in The Franklin will consist of work from Soto and Sullivan’s private collection. Artists included in the exhibition are Jeroen Nelemans, Ryan Richey, Ryan Travis Christian, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung, Deborah Boardman, Dana Carter, Kirsten Leenaars, Zachary Cahill, Ann Toebbe, Melissa Oresky, Alberto Alguilar, Corinne Halbert, Meg Duguid, Heidi Norton, Paul Nudd, Maria Gaspar, Mindy Rose-Schwartz, Eric Brown, Catie Olsen, and Michael Rea. The exhibition will open on Tuesday February 14th and run through Friday March 16th.

There will be a reception for the artists on Friday February 17th from 6-9pm. On Thursday February 23rd at 3pm Catie Olsen and Erik Brown will give a talk entitled Domestic Spaces and Alternative Venues followed by a discussion of artists as collectors by Edra Soto and Dan Sullivan. All events take place in the gallery and are free and open to the public.


Home Knowledge Spectacular

February 4- March 21, 2012
Opening Reception February 4, 2012 7-9pm
North Branch Projects, 3550 W. Lawrence, Chicago, IL
A three part project curated by Alberto Aguilar and Jorge Lucero that consists of an exhibition, a series of workshops, and a publication with contributions from all the participating artists.
The publication will simultaneously function as an exhibition catalogue and an artists’ book on and around the project’s subject of “home knowledge”. Home knowledge is defined as learning and understanding that is acquired through an act of personal will. These types of “knowledge(s) can frequently be passed down intergenerationally, attained through self-motivated research means, and developed through amateurish and deskilled practices/ habits.
Home Knowledge Spectacular brings together artists’ contributions made at a point where the artist’s practice converges with their domestic-manner-of-being. These works take the form of home collections, personal belongings, arrangements, and/or shared-home-knowledge.
Participating Artists:
Alberto Aguilar
Madeleine Aguilar
Jim Duignan
Kirsten Leenaars
Norman Long
Jorge Lucero
Jimmy Luu
Eric May
Teresa Pankratz
Bryan Saner
Vanessa Smith
Hoyun Son
Edra Soto
Hui-min Tsen
Rafael E. Vera
Sean Ward
Please see our website for a listing of all workshops including times and dates: www.northbranchprojects.com

Without You I Am Nothing

Kirsten Leenaars: On Our Way to Tomorrow
March 1-6: Tues noon-7 pm; Wed-Sun noon-4:30 pm
March 8-13: Tues noon-7 pm; Wed-Sun noon-4:30 pm

This performance is a soap opera based on real-life drama, to be filmed on location at the MCA, using MCA staff and visitors as the core actors and extras. The plotlines and characters in the soap opera unfold as determined by input from the visitors, since each day a new episode is filmed and a scenario for the next episode is developed.