The Arts Club’s fall exhibition Upkeep overlaps in both time and topic with The Renaissance Society’s exhibition Nine Lives. Both group shows partake in the Feminist Art Coalition, a national initiative to explore the nuances of what feminisms might mean today. We bring together an artist from each exhibition to converse about areas of convergence or departure.
South African sculptor and visual artist Bronwyn Katz talks with Paris-based Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga about their related approaches to materials and shared interest in revisiting histories or stories from the past. An apropos pairing, the two dissect their engagement with sculpture, materials, storytelling, and revisited histories.
Join us on Friday, July 10th for a discussion with Marissa Lee Benedict, David Rueter, and Daniel de Paula, the artists behind our most recent Garden Project REPOSE.
This exhibition will be broadcast over Zoom.
This event has passed.
In 2018, a group of artists salvaged the last remaining trading “pit” floors from the Chicago Board of Trade, after electronic trading rendered these octagonal pits obsolete. The floors will circulate through a global purgatory of storage and exhibition, housed in the custom wooden shipping crates that are iconic in the art world. For their Garden Project, Marissa Lee Benedict, David Rueter, and Daniel de Paula rearrange fragments of these shipping crates around a missing object, connecting negation in modernist sculpture with dematerialization in global logistics and commodification. In Repose, these wooden fragments interlock in patterns reminiscent of the geometric flooring at the Board of Trade, transforming as viewers walk around The Arts Club’s garden while framing an absent object.
At first glance, Repose presents itself as enigmatic: the arranged fragments a custom wooden shipping crate for a large, missing object. The absent object, the peculiar nature of its suspension and rotation, and the sliced openings built to cushion and support a buoyed mass, flip in and out of focus.
The engineered wooden strata of the precisely cut angular packing materials describe dueling geometries. Some of the slices are capable of being drawn by hand; others are only conceivable through digital rendering software. At play are looping continuities between modernist negation and global logistics. Cuts made by Gordon Matta-Clark in 1978 for the MCA Chicago commissioned work Circus or the Caribbean Orange, temporarily installed just a few doors east of the Arts Club on Ontario Street, echo through the garden. The sculptural tradition of the negative object (“not-landscape,” “not-architecture”) here become colonized by histories of logistics, capital and flow that, again, stall out – like “…a kind of black hole in the space of consciousness.” 
Supplementary documentation describes the subject of the negative space at the crate’s center: a fragment of a discarded artifact of financial capitalism, once central to Chicago’s commodities and futures trading.
In 2018, a chance series of communications, buoyed by the generosity of a community of Chicago artists, led artists Daniel de Paula, Marissa Lee Benedict, and David Rueter to salvage and acquire the last remaining commodities futures trading “pit” floor from the Chicago Board of Trade. The 40-foot-diameter, octagonal, seven-tiered corn and soy pits, in operation since the late 19th century, were closed in the mid 2010s as electronic trading made their function obsolete. Sitting, near empty, for years, the pits were disassembled in pieces and removed from the Board of Trade in the late summer of 2018. The corn pit, broken apart into 32 pieces, is now entering a purgatory of circulation and storage – a state maintained by the artists as they wear at the logics and histories sedimented in its bent, geometric, bones.
The abjection of the pit (and the bodies it housed) from the heights of finance suggests a profound break or discontinuity, but it would be more accurate to say that it reflects a steady acceleration and reinforcement of a centuries-old logic of dematerialization through abstraction, commodification, and financialization – an violent logic of bodily and material erasure that the pit itself once facilitated.
Like oddly intersecting angles of rotation, Repose embodies the hallucinatory qualities of knowledge that, anchored in abstractions, govern global logistics and colonial exploration. Repose, at the Arts Club, frames the artwork as evidentiary object, even as it lies in wait for a subject that may never show up.
 Rosalind Krauss. “Sculpture in the Expanded Field.” October, vol. 8, 1979
Marissa Lee Benedict, born in Palm Springs, Calif. in 1985, is a sculptor, writer, and lecturer. Considering subjects that range from technologies of water management to the laying of fiber optic cable, her work draws on traditions of American Land Art to investigate the material conditions of a recently networked world. Benedict received an MFA in Sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has exhibited at venues such as The Renaissance Society (Chicago, IL), and the Transit Screening Lounge in The U.S. Pavilion as part of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennial (in collaboration with David Rueter). She has participated in numerous national and international residencies, including Artport Tel Aviv (supported by the Hyde Park Art Center Jackman Goldwasser Residency); and was a 2018-19 artist-in-residence at the Van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, NL).
Daniel de Paula, born in Boston, Mass. in 1987, is a Brazilian visual artist, researcher, and co-proposer of the independent exhibitions program Um Trabalho Um Texto (São Paulo, BR). The multiple propositions of the artist reflect upon the production of geographical space as the reproduction of dynamics of power, thus revealing critical investigations concerning the political and economic structures that shape both places and relationships. de Paula holds a BFA in Art at FAAP – Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado and is enrolled at the Human Geography masters program at USP – University of São Paulo. The artist has exhibited in venues such as PAC – Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (Milano, IT), MASP – Museu de Arte Moderna (São Paulo, BR), and MAC – Museu de Arte Contemporânea (São Paulo, BR). He was a 2018-19 artist-in-residence at the Jan Van Eyck Academie (Maastricht, NL), and his work is represented by Galeria Jaqueline Martins.
David Rueter, born in Ann Arbor, Mich. in 1978, is a visual artist, programmer, and an Assistant Professor in Art and Technology at the University of Oregon. Employing video, custom electronics, software, cartography, and performance, Rueter’s experiments and interventions confront established technical systems and their philosophical counterparts, opening cracks for radical alternatives and imaginations. Rueter is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s MFA program in Art and Technology Studies. Rueter has exhibited at venues such as the Transit Screening Lounge in The U.S. Pavilion as part of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennial (in collaboration with Marissa Lee Benedict), and the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, IL). Rueter is the recipient, in collaboration with Benedict, of a 2016-18 National Endowment for the Arts “Art Works” grant for the project Gary Lights Open Works (GLOW) in Gary, Indiana.
This exhibition is supported by a generous grant from the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Since its founding in 1916, The Arts Club has maintained a permanent collection that tracks the history of the avant garde. Shaped by our exhibition history, it includes works by Modern Masters displayed intimately throughout the Club quarters, graced by interiors designed by Mies van der Rohe.
We’re thrilled to welcome guests on the first Saturday of each month for an exclusive tour of the collection on the second floor of the Club, which is typically restricted for use by members and their guests. Visitors will learn not only about the works in the collection but also about how the Club has been a site for experimentation, exploration, and creativity for artists and their supporters throughout the last century.
On March 7th, the tour will be slightly augmented by a concurrent performance by Industry of the Ordinary. More information here.
All tours are free, but reservations are required.
Industry of the Ordinary (Adam Brooks and Mat Wilson) has been mediating the daily life of Chicago for over 16 years. Dedicated to an exploration and celebration of the customary, the everyday, and the usual, Brooks and Wilson use sculpture, text, photography, video, sound and performance to challenge pejorative notions of the ordinary and, in doing so, move beyond the quotidian.
At The Arts Club of Chicago, Industry of the Ordinary will spend a week intervening on the space in a variety of ways—subtly altering the trappings of the club rooms, feeding visitors edible historical artifacts, and performing with CSO cellist Katinka Kleijn in the gallery. Their residency, entitled Seven Days in March, celebrates and comments upon what is customary and usual at The Arts Club—that we might reevaluate our perception of normal vs. noteworthy.
Saturday March 7
Public Program: Industry of the Ordinary “invites you to eat history”
12:00 – 2:00 pm in The Drawing Room Bar
Public Program: Private Collection tour of The Arts Club (to include IOTO’s interventions)
1:00 – 1:45 (meet in gallery)
Swing through the club on Saturday to literally taste a piece of the club’s history, as provided by Industry of the Ordinary (between 12 and 2). And while you’re at it, join for a group tour of the entire club and its collection (1 – 1:45), which Brooks and Wilson have augmented with pieces of their own. Free and open to all
Tuesday March 10
Public Program: Industry of the Ordinary with Katinka Kleijn perform “If you’ve got a blacklist, I wanna be on it”
6:00 pm – 8:00 pm in the gallery
Visit here to RSVP.
Photo: Jay Wolke
Please join us for reception in celebration of Jennie C. Jones: Constant Structure opening at The Arts Club on March 19, 2020 at 6 pm. This event is free and open to all.
Lingering at the intersection of music theory, painting, and sound, Jennie C. Jones draws on the jazz composition concept of “constant structure” for her exhibition here. The term refers to a consecutive chord progression that models for Jones a sense of cohesion and difference. Like the intervals of jazz then, Jones’s new acoustic panel paintings, works on paper, and site-specific gestures, hit moments of dissonance and harmony through serial repetition and variation. For The Arts Club, Jones further expands her characteristic visual vocabulary into the parameters of the room, accenting the architecture with her minimal gestures and references to her sonic memory.