The Modern: A contemporary investigation at the intersection of art and life, a project of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with the Mies van der Rohe Society, Illinois Institute of Technology
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, in partnership with the Mies van der Rohe Society of the Illinois Institute of Technology, occasioned by the opening of the Modern Wing at The Art Institute of Chicago in 2009.
Exploratory meetings will take place in Chicago among invited members of the Chicago arts, architecture, and cultural programming communities. This open discussion seeks to imagine a citywide program on “The Modern.” The group will analyze the framework for research and explore the potential for “The Modern” as a defining concept in Chicago. An International Consortium Meeting is planned for week of June 22 at the University of Gutenberg, Sweden.
A century ago creative individuals—thinkers, artists, architects—dreamed of coming together and making a new and better world. They made proposals and projects and started schools based on new pedagogical structures to model these practices. Incorporating function as well as form, these planners sought to bring students out of the academy and into the real world where they could make a difference.
Today artists increasingly work collaboratively on an interdisciplinary level, engaged in art and design efforts such as city planning and creating public space and facilities. They are joining in scientific efforts to help make a more sustainable and green living environment. They are involved in social interrogations and taking productive actions.
The proposed program would be undertaken both “at home,” where an institution or group of institutions in a partner city will carry out projects of scale and scope appropriate to their own location, and internationally, as the projects evolve and are reinforced through a consortium of key partners in cities where modernism played a particularly catalytic role. Individuals and institutions will seek to enter into an open, exploratory process in which resources and ideas can be applied in good and meaningful ways.
1. The Modern or “The International Style” in its local expression—Tel Aviv, Helsinki, Ankara, Asmara, Chandigarh, Rio, and others, in addition to Germany and Chicago.
2. The Modern as a social program, an engagement in the world as a continuing practice of artists, architects, and designers. This engagement began around the turn of the last century and had a certain crescendo after World War II. It seems to be reinvigorated now as evident in, for example, architectural and urban planning (utopias) and the garden city reimagined in terms of ecological and sustainable models.
3. The Modern revised, in a timely relook at modernism after postmodernism, the ways in which qualities of modernism such as efficiency, popular/mass production, and social equality are being expressed in forms like the popularization of “good” design by companies such as Ikea, Target, and Design Within Reach.
4. Cross disciplinary pedagogical systems of working that had the Bauhaus as a beacon (though in reality the hierarchies were still in effect), including the notion of artist as innovator/inventor and social agent.
1. “The Other Modern,” an exhibition of artists’ projects, will generate new, collaborative works sited in a number of Chicago’s architectural monuments that are icons of Modernism. The new works will draw on modernism’s history in disparate geographical centers during the first half of the 20th century. They will embody contemporary artist practices, an Inter-Dimensional Aesthetics for the 21stcentury, encompassing the following avenues to thinking about the past and present:
• The political, looking at social programs such as public housing and city planning that political ideologies have fostered;
• The pedagogical or learning mode, especially as developed through schools such as the Bauhaus and modern progressive public education;
• The workplace, from the corporate megalopolis to the machine and notions of efficiency;
• The domestic scene, including new concepts of family, good design for good living, and the home as the site of healthy and wholesome nurturing (the new kitchen);
•The evolution of consciousness and the process of individual development.
2. A research initiative designed to encourage dialogue and cross-pollination between artists’ research and that of scholars that is expected to generate new works for a major publication.
This new scholarly and artistic research will lead to a series of public programs, such as symposia, lectures, and film programs
3. Curriculum and student programs at SAIC and with international academic partners who share these interests are weaving pedagogical threads into a global network. (A consortium project-based study trip is planned for Tel Aviv in July 2008.)
Contact: Mary Jane Jacob
Professor and Chair of Exhibitions
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
280 S. Columbus Drive
Chicago, Il 60603-6402
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