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A dancer is inverted, standing upon their shoulders, their legs up in the air, with red, extremely high heels tied to their feet. A dancer is inverted, standing upon their shoulders, their legs up in the air, with red, extremely high heels tied to their feet.


Next performance: April 23, 2022



The Art Institute of Chicago proudly presents Iterations, a series of new performance commissions that underline the wide range of artistic practices and attitudes in performance today.

New works by Alexandra Bachzetsis, Cevdet Erek, Paulina Olowska, and Cally Spooner—anchored in choreography, sound art, spoken word performance, installation, music, and gesture and movement research—explore how performance practice is situated in the context of the Art Institute of Chicago, in our distinct spaces and amid our wide-ranging collection. Unfolding as an iterative exhibition over the course of three years, Iterations takes place in different durations and in various spaces across the museum, including exhibition and collection galleries, interstitial spaces, and theaters.  

While performance has often been understood as a singular event in time, dependent on the physical presence of an artist, contemporary approaches have produced a shift in thinking. Moving between genres, spaces, and durations, the artists in Iterations propose performance as a set of artistic strategies that encompass various media as well as multiple and shifting temporalities. The series as a whole follows this rhythm and exists as a hybrid between exhibition and event, suggesting how the museum can be a host to artworks that emerge and disappear, re-emerge and persist in time. As the artists move through and produce new works in a variety of spaces across the Art Institute, each installment of the series proposes different spatial conditions as well. For instance, the museum’s theater spaces provide radically different meaning and context than the exhibition and collection galleries or one the many interstitial and transitional spaces in the Art Institute’s building. As such, Iterations does not only pose the question of when and how, but also where performance can take place. 

Furthermore, Iterations states questions that have to do with a politics of care. The Art Institute of Chicago is a caretaker of art through presentation and conservation. Increasingly, as performance has become a widespread phenomenon in museum programming and exhibitions—and moving-image works and sound installations similarly challenge prevalent definitions of objects and object production—museums are shifting their understanding of what caretaking means in a collection context. How can museums take care of moving bodies or ephemeral gestures, of words being uttered and installations that change over time? What does the museum have to do, what does it need, in order to take care of performance—both in terms of presentation and embedding it in the collection? Iterations seeks to explore these questions through the practice of commissioning; engaging in a long-term dialogue with artists about the conception and production of, and care for a new performance work at the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Upcoming in 2022:

Paulina Olowska (b. 1976, Gdansk, Poland)
Naughty Nymphs in the Courtyard of the Favorites

April 23, 2022
Performances are free with museum admission and do not require registration.

The following commissions were presented in 2019:

Cevdet Erek (b. 1974, Istanbul, Turkey)

February 28–April 28, 2019
Opening performance: February 28, 2019
Kenneth and Anne Griffin Court

Cally Spooner (b. 1983, Ascot, United Kingdom)
DEAD TIME (a crime novel)

April 22–28, 2019
Bucksbaum Gallery 188

Alexandra Bachzetsis (b. 1974, Zurich, Switzerland)
Chasing a Ghost

October 31–November 2, 2019
Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room 


Iterations is made possible through the generous support of the Society for Contemporary Art at the Art Institute of Chicago.


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