IN>TIME at the Chicago Cultural Center

by Minami Furukawa

For all you performance art fans out there, you’ll be happy to hear that IN>TIME, an annual Chicago performance series hosted by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Performance Department, is back for its second year to showcase local, national, and international artists at the Cultural Center in downtown Chicago.  I met up with the curators of this event, Mark Jeffrey and Sara Schnadt of the Chicago Performance Network, and asked them a few questions about the event.  Please note that answers are paraphrased, unless marked in quotations.

Every House Has A Door. Photo credit: John W. Sisson Jr.

When/Where is this event held?
The Symposium, titled “Performing Futures: Sustaining and Continuing a Live Art Performance Practice”: Friday, March 26th from 1pm-5:30pm, at the Chicago Cultural Center 5th Floor Millenium Park Room. The performance event (2010 Showcase):  Saturday, March 27th from 6pm-9pm at the Chicago Cultural Center. Both events are Free, but reservations are required for the Symposium.

What is this event?
Jeffrey describes it as a “call to bring [performance] work into Chicago”.  This performance series is a one night event held biannually, complimenting the “Sight Unseen” series in the fall which focuses strictly on local artists showing site specific work.  IN>TIME highlights international artists, hoping to bring art outside of Chicago to its community in order to introduce other types of thinking/art making which are not as accessible to the city.  Schnadt describes the work in this year’s IN>TIME as “live art, more visual performance based, some of it is video installation, some of it is dance or theater based where you sit down and watch the work”.

Another Women's Movement, Angela Ellsworth. Photo Credit: Ana Elizalde.

This year, five performance based pieces will highlighted.  Groups range from locally commissioned artists, to those from Arizona and Croatia.  These five pieces are briefly (and very literally for the not-so-conceptually-enthusiastic) described:

  • Chicago artist group Every House Has a Door’s They’re Mending the Great Frest Highway is a dance for three men with a female DJ/classically trained pianist modeled after a series of eight Hungarian Folksongs by Béla Bartók composed in 1917.
  • Commissioned emerging artist Justin Cabrillos’ Faces, Varieties, Postures is a site-sensitive response to the Chicago Cultural Center’s dual histories as a public library and Civil War memorial.  The Gar Rotunda will be Cabrillos’ canvas for a poetic transformation of his research material during his residency at the Cultural Center, focusing on the relationship between language and the body.
  • Commissioned artist Jessica Hannah’s The Living Room is a life-size domestic diorama with characters that inhabit the environment of her research during her residency at the Cultural Center.  Post-WWII ration-less consumption, romantic and industrial films of the 1950s, and the boom of mid-century housing developments are explored in the space, providing multiple points of access through live movement, spoken and recorded text, video footage, scent, and live musical soundtrack.
  • Angela Ellsworth’s Another Women’s Movement merges an American-born dance craze with an American-born polygamous sect through silent line-dancing with nine sister-wife characters representing Ellsworth’s research of Joseph Smith’s prophecy of the Civil War in relation to her family’s Mormon background in Utah.  This performance is a part of Ellsworth’s Sister-Wife Project, an ongoing investigation into her family’s lineage of Mormon polygamy.
  • Croatian collaborative group OOUR Zagreb’s Creation of Eve represents the first Croatian group to perform in the Midwest, and underscores two extreme dance potentials through coordinated movement of communal bodies versus an emancipated one through which the body becomes a basic expression.

Every House Has A Door. Photo Credit: John W. Sisson Jr.

How were the participating artists chosen?

The event serves as a “platform for new work” both in terms of the introduction and exposure for emerging artists, as well as a means of bringing international work into a community with limited experience with performance art.  Jeffrey emphasizes that by showing the work of artists from around the country and world into Chicago, a diverse and fresh resonance is able to be shared; for example, the difference in artistic style between foreign artists vs. local, such as the “dynamic, formal, compositional rigor” within many Eastern European works that differs from what is more commonly seen here.  Jeffrey and Schnadt choose artists based on “visually evocative work often with a grounding in movement and sculpture—niches that have not been filled here locally”.

Who is your target audience?
For the Symposium, the target audience is very diverse.  The discussion-professional practice oriented-is attuned to the majority of artists in any field of interest, not specific to the filter of performance; “I think it’s a very diverse thing…I would say that in hindsight I would encourage anyone to go, what will be presented will be attuned to the majority of artists on the idea of how you begin to develop and sustain your work post school.  It is a very timely symposium”.  The same goes for the event, if not even more so.  Anyone interested in visual art, performance, or dance is encouraged to attend.