Brendan Fernandes, A Call and Response

About the exhibition

Brendan Fernandes’s dance-based installation in the Commons, entitled A Call and Response, explores the ways society sees and values different kinds of bodies. Using language, architecture, and gesture to understand the nature of being seen, Fernandes encourages dancers–and visitors–to collaborate and generate new forms of physical language that move and attract other bodies in space.

Fernandes (Kenyan, b. 1979) seeks to isolate everyday actions, such as running for the bus or slinging a bag over your shoulder, considering individuals’ movements in social spaces as a kind of choreography. Over the course of the exhibition, the artist poses the question: How do the shapes of our bodies and our physical proximity to others affect our sense of visibility?

The Commons Artist Project: Brendan Fernandes is organized by January Parkos Arnall, Curator of Public Programs, with Christy LeMaster, Assistant Curator of Public Programs.

The Commons Artist Project is a biannual exhibition series that provides a platform for artists to create commissioned installations that consider the big issues of our time. The projects provide direct opportunities for visitors to interact with the works and ideas of local and regional artists of national recognition.

Installation Images

Installation view, Commons Artist Project: Brendan Fernandes, MCA Chicago June 18–October 13, 2019 Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Installation view, Commons Artist Project: Brendan Fernandes, MCA Chicago June 18–October 13, 2019 Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Installation view, Commons Artist Project: Brendan Fernandes, MCA Chicago June 18–October 13, 2019 Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Installation view, Commons Artist Project: Brendan Fernandes, MCA Chicago June 18–October 13, 2019 Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Installation view, Commons Artist Project: Brendan Fernandes, MCA Chicago June 18–October 13, 2019 Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

About A Call and Response

A Call and Response consists of three movement-based projects, all of which encourage visitors to participate in their formation.

The installation in the Commons

A series of prompts invite visitors to explore together the ways our appearances and movements convey social meaning.

Open Call

Fernandes asks visitors to answer a “call to movement” and participate in a collectively generated performance alongside professional dancers in the Commons and on the Terrace. While this piece has been performed before at other venues and institutions, it’s a totally unique experience created in the moment, with the people in the room.

Calling Time

With the keen eyes of visitors to the museum, Fernandes and three dancers create a new movement piece over the course of open rehearsals throughout the summer. Culminating in two final performances in the fall, Calling Time is catalyzed by architectural constructions, prompts, and visitor input.

See the schedule below for all of Fernandes’s rehearsals, activations, and performances to collaborate in the creation of new work.

EXHIBITION EVENTS AND ACTIVATIONS:

List of Dancers in the Project

Dancers within this project include: Benjamin Wardell, Cameron Lasater, Elijah Richardson, Kara Brody, Michelle Reid, Samuel Crouch, Samuel Horning, and Simone Stevens.

Takeaways