Blog: MCA DNA

Teen Takeover: A 21Minus Recap

By Camarri Lane

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Every year, the MCA’s Teen Creative Agency hosts a fantastical teen-led celebration called 21Minus that takes over the entire museum. Over the years, we have seen giant baby sculptures made entirely of plastic wrap and dual chairs where guests could feel the other person’s heartbeat. This year, again, featured new and up-and-coming artists who produce though-provoking, innovative, and interactive works. Here are my top three highlights from the day.

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Kopano Muhammad’s project Black Women Spec addressed racism, sexism, and hair. During the performance, Kopano sat on a stool while four people of different ethnicities braided and pulled at her hair, which she had originally styled in an afro. As the crowd watched the work unfold, they became witnesses to the life of a black woman who is forced to sit silently as outside forces constantly try to change her. Kopanos’s performative piece drew a huge crowd and played a key role in introducing the audience to new perspectives on art and life.

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#21minus student movement art conversations about body ownership @mcachicago

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Another artist, Joshua Rodriguez, brought his project Lock and Key. This interactive piece asked guests to choose a lock or a key and find their match while walking around the museum. By setting it up this way, Joshua forced visitors to make random connections with others involved in the work. After finding their match, the two guests would come back to Joshua to take a picture which was then posted on his Instagram. Although some guests were unable to find their match, they still made connections with other guests and ended up talking to more than those who found their match. Joshua’s project responded to the assumption that museums are places of contemplation and not settings conducive to conversation. Joshua’s project was a huge success at breaking down those assumed behaviors and getting the 21Minus audience to interact with one another.

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The event culminated in Pink Nightmare, a project by Eli Adams that invited guests throughout the day to write their fears on pink balloons that were chained together. As the day went on, the Pink Nightmare grew to become this gigantic mass of more than 200 fears, including "death," "spiders," "not achieving enough," "FOMO," and "hurting the ones I love." For the finale, everyone gathered together to release their fears in one resounding, collective pop.

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Aftermath of Splendid Blast/Pink Nightmare #21minus #pinkballoon #ballonblast #mcachicago #teens #tca #pinkandblack

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21Minus encapsulates what TCA is about. We strive to be loud and bring new and exciting ideas to the MCA to encourage constant change. By being a strong force in the museum, we push the MCA to new heights for exploration in a changing world. If you missed 21Minus this year, mark your calendars for next year, which is bound to be even bigger!

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