Polish-born, London-based artist Goshka Macuga embarks on a yearlong project as the museum’s 2013 artist in residence. Macuga’s residency project begins with the history of the MCA and relies heavily on the social fabric of the MCA community to excavate some of Chicago’s lesser-known histories, forgotten folktales, and best-kept secrets.
This collection of locations, photos, and written records traces Macuga's creative process as the her project—titled A Chicago Comedy—unfolds. Both the Chicago Comedy and its Preparatory Notes take their cue from the work of the Hamburg-born renegade German Jewish art historian Aby Warburg (1866-1929), who has been a dependable source of inspiration for Macuga for a number of years. Warburg’s unpublished play Hamburg Conversations on Art: Hamburg Comedy, 1896, about the struggles between Hamburg’s avant-garde and art traditionalists, provides one lead of many throughout the artist's residency at the MCA.
Goshka Macuga (above) – The Artist.
Dieter Roelstraete (below right) – The Curator.
Michelle Puetz (below left) – The Researcher.
Nathan Keay (bottom left) – The Photographer.
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… Read more
The roof of the MCA warehouse (not normally accessible to visitors) offers a sweeping panorama of the city, including some less familiar sights such as a giant disused railroad bridge now serving the sole purpose of holding up a set of traffic lights for oncoming Metra traffic. Seen from here, Chicago’s skyline looks somewhat unreal,… Read more
Although Ludwig Mies van der Rohe received the commission for this building (really one of a group of buildings that together make up the Federal Center complex) in 1959, the iconic Post Office on the corner of West Adams and South Clark Streets was only finished in 1974, a full five years after the modernist… Read more
Over the course of a short walk through downtown Chicago on a rare sunny afternoon, the city’s pioneering modern architecture and distinct mix of styles is immediately evident. Gleaming glass and steel towers loom over the city’s first modern skyscrapers, built in the wake of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Elaborate and stately buildings… Read more
One of the great perks of visiting Crown Hall, widely considered to be Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s crowning achievement in modernist architecture, is that it continues to be used as a workspace for the aspiring architects of tomorrow—its interior is anything but a sacrosanct minimalist affair, but a charming mess of stools and tables… Read more
At the Newberry Library, one of the country’s finest research institutions—its curator of maps, James Akerman, generously guided us through the Library’s vast holdings of cartographic material. Some of these maps tie in with the institution’s focused research interests, such as the history of nineteenth-century westward expansion along the growing network of railway lines (we… Read more
We spent the day exploring the social geography of the city under the guidance of one of Chicago’s most knowledgeable guides, Don Davis. We learned about Don from MCA curators Julie Rodrigues Widholm and Steven Bridges after he took Colombian artist Doris Salcedo on a tour of Chicago in June of 2012 that focused on… Read more
What is now Meyer’s Ace Hardware Store, on the corner of East 35th street and Martin Luther King Drive in the historic heart of Bronzeville, was once home to the Sunset Café or Grand Terrace Café, one of Chicago’s foremost jazz clubs. Throughout the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s it hosted the likes of Louis Armstrong, Bix… Read more
Another half-forgotten marvel on the South Side—the Pilgrim Baptist Church on the corner of South Indiana Avenue and 33rd street, originally built by Adler & Sullivan in 1890 as the Kehilath Anshe Ma’ariv Synagogue, home to Chicago’s oldest Jewish congregation (Dankmar Adler’s father had been its rabbi from 1861 to 1883). Known as the birthplace… Read more
New Deal-era murals created throughout the city of Chicago as a part of the WPA’s Federal Art Project in the 1930s were inspired by the murals of Mexican artists including “los tres grandes” —Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros. The spirit of community activism and belief that art is a socio-political instrument… Read more
After a series of exploratory trips to the places and spaces that contain traces of Chicago’s history, it seemed only fitting to shop for articles of clothing that may or may not have been a part of Chicago’s past (Goshka is an avid collector of outrageous vintage clothing items). We made a quick stop at… Read more
Laszlo Moholy-Nagy is one of the undisputed greats of 20th century avant-garde art—why is the stone marking his final resting place in Graceland Cemetery so small, so hard to find? Moholy-Nagy, who was instrumental in directing the Bauhaus back to its original utilitarian goals—in his best-known portrait, he is shown donning an austere-looking overall of… Read more
On our way to visit the Fine Arts Building we walked past the MCA’s former building, located at 237 East Ontario Street. Built in 1915 as a bakery and later home to the corporate offices of Playboy Enterprises, the Ontario Street structure which housed the MCA until 1996 was redesigned by architect Daniel Brenner and… Read more
After peeking into the lobby of Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler’s grand Auditorium Building, which, on its completion in 1889 was the tallest building in the city of Chicago, we made our way west to another not-to-be-missed architectural landmark, Holabird & Roche’s Marquette Building. One of the earliest steel frame skyscrapers, the Marquette Building’s hexagonal… Read more
Lead support for this residency is provided by Helen and Sam Zell.
Additional generous support is provided by Sandra and Jack Guthman, and David Herro and Jay Franke.
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