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SonnenzimmerThe Arts Club of Chicago at 100

Past exhibition

Sonnenzimmer: The Arts Club of Chicago at 100

About the Exhibition

To celebrate The Arts Club of Chicago’s centennial year, Sonnenzimmer (Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi) sculpt an abstract graphic timeline based on The Arts Club’s rich history of programming and printed ephemera. Their work not only aims at conveying a historic legacy, but also explores the space between events fixed in time and the production of new artwork.

A visual impression has the capability of condensing time. Through the production of six screen prints, one for each era of The Arts Club’s history, Sonnenzimmer’s design and print process becomes a sieve for each era’s visual language and broader ideas. The artists thus become filters of the past, but also authors in their own right, giving form to these amalgamations of shape, intent, and context.

Nakanishi states about the project:

We learn from Gertrude Stein that a sentence is balanced in itself ­formally, when we see a grammatic block self fulfilled in its logic. No beginning, middle, and end exist, when it stands by itself. Arriving in Chicago, 1934, she asks whether “Let’s make our flour meal and meet in Georgia” is prose or poetry. She goes on to explain, only when sentences build a paragraph can emotions arise. Punctuation in the Elizabethan era put pressures on words. Periods prohibited words to move freely. Sentences were locked away.

Punctuation has an interesting history of evolution in the Latin script. Some were meant for pauses back in the day, some notation was borrowed from music…

In a 1934 talk at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Stein says “the first hope of a painter who really feels hopeful about painting is the hope that the painting will move, that it will live outside of its frame.” When an event is documented, for me, ephemera is created. Ephemera as a period. It prohibits it to move, to live outside of itself. It is balanced within itself, and only in sequencing can we access the excitement and anticipation to mirror our own understanding of it. Only by relieving the ephemera from that punctuation, can prose and poetry be created. New compositions come to life in the hopes they will live outside of their frames.

That would be living history. Can’t stop the feeling!

About the Artist

Sonnenzimmer is the Chicago­-based art practice and studio of Nick Butcher and Nadine Nakanishi, merging backgrounds in graphic, sound, and fine art. They have exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago, and their work can be found in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Design Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany, Ragnarock Museum for Pop, Rock, and Youth Culture, Roskilde Denmark, and the Newberry Library, Chicago.