We Are Here: Art & Design Out of Context



Throughout the month of July, We Are Here hosts a weekly series of four multidisciplinary art and design situations with Chicago-based participants. Using the gallery as a workspace, the activities of product design collective Object Design League, the artist-run project space Golden Age, designers Tim Parson & Jessica Charlesworth, and screen-printers Sonnenzimmer illustrate how the practical becomes performative when placed out of context.

Curated by James Goggin, MCA Design Director with MCA Designer Alfredo Ruiz.

Object Design League: Balloon Factory
Jul 5–10 during museum hours
Gallery talk: Tue, Jul 5, 6 pm

Balloons are familiar and loved objects, but few people realize that with some amateur kitchen chemistry techniques, the process for manufacturing them can be replicated on a small scale. Product designers Caroline Linder, Lisa Smith, Michael Savona, Thomas Moran, and Steven Haulenbeek—all members of design collective Object Design League—aim to demystify and illustrate each step of this process with their Balloon Factory on-site at MCA Chicago. Freshly made balloons are available in limited quantities from the MCA Store.

Golden Age: Reference Work
Jul 12–17, during museum hours
Gallery talk: Tue, Jul 12, 6 pm
Publication launch: Sun, Jul 17, 2–4 pm

Artists Martine Syms and Marco Kane Braunschweiler move their Golden Age project space wholesale from the West Loop to the gallery for the week. The space is set up as a reading room showing their collection of publications and projects. Syms and Braunschweiler are also producing Reference Work, a conceptual business textbook edited and printed in the gallery with the MCA Design department’s in-house Riso stencil printer. The publication launches on July 17 and is available from the MCA Store and at Golden Age.

Tim Parsons & Jessica Charlesworth: Adhocism
Jul 19–24, during museum hours
Gallery talk: Tue, Jul 19, 6 pm

Inspired by the 1972 book Adhocism: The Case for Improvisation by Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver, British designers Tim Parsons (Associate Professor in Designed Objects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and Jessica Charlesworth present a series of interventions that combine readily available materials and components. Parsons’s American Ad Hoc series repurposes classic American products into a series of tables, giving them a dignified domestic retirement. Visitors are invited to make their own ArtPin, a customizable pin badge, by selecting from collected source material. This ad hoc approach is also to be applied to the gallery furniture, made with found and leftover materials from around the MCA.

Sonnenzimmer: Commercial Improvisation
Jul 26–31, during museum hours
Gallery talk: Tue, Jul 26, 6 pm
Exhibition poster launch and closing event: Sun, Jul 31, 2–4 pm.

Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi of Sonnenzimmer move their Cincinnati-brand one-arm screen-printing press into the gallery for the week. Operating as a satellite office and print shop, they are designing and producing a screen-printed We Are Here exhibition poster. With a large selection of their posters and prints also on display, the space acts as both a survey of their past work and a window into their process and printing method. The poster launches on July 31 and is available from the MCA Store.

MCA Chicago + Gilt City + Chicago Reader Street Box Redesign

To coincide with We Are Here, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has partnered with the Chicago Reader and Gilt City to present a new project by the artists and designers featured in the exhibition. Golden Age, Object Design League, Tim Parsons & Jessica Charlesworth, and Sonnenzimmer have all redesigned a set of Chicago Reader street boxes and placed them back in the city. Look for the street boxes, on view through the second week of August, at the following locations:

  • Lake & Wabash
  • Lake & Dearborn
  • 18th & Halsted
  • 18th & Alport
  • 2041 W Division
  • Division & Hoyne
  • 2540 N Kedzie
  • Milwaukee & Kedzie
  • Webster & Sheffield
  • Lincoln & Webster

Installation Images