April 18, 2013

Spontaneous Interventions Opens At Chicago Cultural Center On May 24

Exhibit Features Work by Architects, Designers and Everyday People to Bring Positive Change to Neighborhoods and Cities

DCASE    312.744.3316

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is pleased to announce a new exhibit, Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good, opening Friday, May 24, and running through September 1 in the Michigan Avenue Galleries of the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.). 

Chicago is the first destination of the installation, which represented the U.S. at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale (2012). For over a century, the Venice Architecture Biennale has been one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world, promoting new artistic trends and organizing international events in contemporary arts. The U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is presented by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State (ECA), which supports and manages the official United States participation at selected international exhibitions. 

Spontaneous Interventions, organized by Cathy Lang Ho on behalf of the Institute for Urban Design, is devoted to the growing movement of architects, designers, artists and everyday citizens acting on their own initiative to bring improvements to the urban realm, creating new opportunities and amenities for the public. The exhibition received more than 178,000 visitors in Venice, and earned a Special Mention from the Golden Lion jury, the first time the United States has been honored in the history of the Venice Architecture Biennale.

“We’re so pleased that Chicago is the first destination for this thought-provoking display as the City has always been at the forefront of architecture and design,” said DCASE Commissioner Michelle T. Boone. “For more than 100 years, the city has attracted innovators seeking to make their contribution to our world class city.”

Spontaneous Interventions emphasizes two priorities of the Chicago Cultural Plan; fostering cultural innovation and integrating culture into daily life.

The Chicago installation will recreate the lively exhibition design of pull-down banners, created by Brooklyn design studio Freecell and Berkeley-based communication design firm M-A-D. The contents of the exhibition have been updated to include more recent and more local projects. Among the 84 projects that will be presented, more than a dozen are from Chicago, including several that also appeared in Venice.

“American urbanism always seems to circle back to Chicago: grid, fire, skyscraper, Burnham, rivers reversed, White City, sociology, Jane Addams, the Daleys, the projects, community organizing, urban renewal, greening,” said Michael Sorkin, New York architect, critic and president of the Institute for Urban Design. “We are honored to bring a view of a new, democratic design movement that is growing across the country but with deep roots in America’s most essential city.”

In conjunction with the exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center, Spontaneous Interventions will include a pop-up “outdoor living room” in Millennium Park, designed by Chicago-based MAS Studio, led by architect Iker Gil. The space will serve as an outpost for the exhibition and a venue for exhibition-related programs, including talks, panels, tours, workshops and more. The pop-up will feature a colorful canopy and seating made of salvaged lumber by local artist/woodworker John Preus of Dilettante Studios. 

“Our goal with Spontaneous Interventions is to use the exhibition as a framework for understanding a larger movement, in which citizens all over the world are devising and implementing clever, low-barrier urban interventions to make their cities more inclusive, sustainable, pleasurable and safer,” said Cathy Lang Ho, a New York–based design journalist and curator. “For this reason, we have organized a rich roster of programs that will place the trend of tactical urbanism in the context local urban issues and citizen action.” Program director is Samantha Topol, a Chicago editor and writer.

Also, just across the street from the Chicago Cultural Center, Expo 72 (72. E. Randolph St.) features another exhibition from the Venice Architecture Biennale (2012) called City Works. This exhibition shows a series of typical Chicago environments, examining the way architecture engages the city. It’s a collaborative effort by five teams: David Brown, Alexander Eisenschmidt, Studio Gang, Stanley Tigerman and UrbanLab. The installation involves a large model of visionary Chicago.

All summer long, programs will take place at the Chicago Cultural Center, in the pop-up pavilion in Millennium Park, and at various offsite locations. Many of the programs are organized in partnership with Chicago-based designers, nonprofits, community organizations and city agencies. 



Candy Chang, Change Administration (Aurash Khawarzad), Center for Urban Pedagogy, COMMONstudio, CROP, Design 99, DSN AGNC (Quilian Riano), Alexander Eisenschmidt with Cheng+Snyder, envelope a+d (Douglas Burnham), Experimental Station, Theaster Gates, Fritz Haeg, Hester Street Collaborative, LA Green Grounds, Latent Design, Public Media Institute (Ed Marzewski), Moving Design (Ric Valicenti and John Pobojewski), Neighborland, OpenPlans, Rockwell Group, Stamen, Street Plans Collaborative (Mike Lydon), Team Better Block, Jordan Seiler, WORKac, and others.

Spontaneous Interventions emphasizes two priorities of the Chicago Cultural Plan: fostering cultural innovation and integrating culture into daily life.

For more information, visit cityofchicago.org/dcase.


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Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.

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