For an artist known for her quasi-archaeological explorations of the institutional histories embedded in museum archives, collections and libraries, it seemed only fitting that Goshka Macuga’s first visit to Chicago in the framework of the 2013 MCA artist-in-residency project should have started in the MCA’s warehouse in the city’s Near West Side—where some of the museum collection’s less frequently exhibited pieces go to hibernate, or the oversized crates of traveling shows rest in peace, alongside countless relics from the MCA’s 45-year-old history, ranging from derelict office furniture to 35mm slides and unsold exhibition catalogues. There is no better guide to this labyrinth than the invariably black-clad Duncan Anderson, in perennial cowboy hat (custom-made in the man’s native Smoky Mountains region); his tour through the sparsely lit complex includes some rather ghoulish moments.
Perhaps the most beloved artwork (and certainly the largest) to emerge from Martin Creed’s 2012 artist residency, “Martin Creed Plays Chicago,” is his Work No. 1357, Mothers, which remained installed on the MCA plaza until the first week of June. Note the young mother lounging on the MCA stairs, soaking up April’s first sparse sunrays; appropriately, a school bus is seen departing after a visit to the museum.
This string of images, I believe, beautifully encapsulates the humdrum drama of this first “research” trip. We are looking, and looking around—snooping, scrutinizing, in the dark. It is still very unclear what we are looking at or searching for, for you as much as for us.