This exhibition offers an unprecedented survey of Abloh’s creative work in total by pulling back the curtain on his process.
Featuring interviews with:
TREMAINE EMORY is a creative director, storyteller, and cofounder of No Vacancy Inn, a platform for art, music, radio, fashion, and more. Emory and Acyde Odunlami founded No Vacancy Inn in 2015.
ARTHUR JAFA is an artist, filmmaker, and cinematographer. Two of Jafa and Abloh’s collaborations are featured in this exhibition: Wakanda Never (2018) and Screen Shot (2017).
HANS ULRICH OBRIST is the artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries in London. A curator, critic, and art historian, he has conducted hundreds of interviews with a wide range of artists and cultural figures.
Acyde Odunlami, known commonly as ACYDE, is a music producer and cofounder with Tremaine Emory of the multiplatform collective No Vacancy Inn. In 2017, No Vacancy Inn created a capsule collection with Abloh called “Off-White c/o Art Dad LLC.”
AMY VERNER is a Paris-based journalist who writes for Vogue.com and Vogue Runway. During her career, she has covered numerous art- and fashion-related stories in publications such as The New York Times, GQ, and wallpaper.com.
Virgil Abloh: My name is Virgil Abloh and I don’t think I do anything besides be creative.
Michael Darling: You have arrived. You’re right where you’re supposed to be. Right in the middle of the 1990s and also the future.
Virgil Abloh: Grew up in Rockford, Illinois. It was amazing. I felt like I was just an average kid from the middle of nowhere.
Michael Darling: Simultaneously in a record shop in Rockford, Illinois and a fashion atelier in Milan. Between the literal and the figurative.
Virgil Abloh: I don’t feel responsible to preconceived notion of art. I feel more responsible to a community that is trying to change the tide or—just sort of—live in an optimistic society that art, design, music, and fashion actually change the world for the better.
Michael Darling: Welcome to Figures of Speech, a comprehensive look at the evolution of the American artist and designer Virgil Abloh. I’m Michael Darling, Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. This guide features the voices of some of Abloh’s closest collaborators and biggest fans in the worlds of art and fashion.
Hans Ulrich Obrist: Kanye heard rumors, as he told me, about this young student in Chicago who understands music, who gets culture, who gets design, who can bridge all of these fields.
Arthur Jafa: It was always a very clear vision, it seemed, in terms of what his voice was.
Acyde: He's breaking the fourth wall of all of these things: of playing music to people, or getting them introduced to fashion, or getting them introduced to architecture or design.
Amy Verner: There has always been something unexpected to what he has proposed.
Tremaine Emory: V really wants us to look inside and focus on ourselves to see how we can help ourselves and help the community.
Michael Darling: And, of course, we’ll hear from Abloh himself. One thing to know: Virgil travels constantly. So, if it sounds like he’s speaking from a car or a street corner, he probably is. We recorded him wherever we could. There are seven stops on this tour. Each one lasts about four minutes and introduces an entire gallery, so feel free to wander while you listen. Enjoy!