City Self investigates the MCA’s hometown, Chicago, providing a portrait of the city through the eyes of locals and visitors. The centerpiece is the American premiere of New York-based painter and filmmaker Sarah Morris’s film Chicago (2011) which pays homage to the city. The exhibition is arranged with the film as a core element, drawing connections to a range of works from the MCA Collection - both by Chicago artists and by “outsiders” - all that explore city life. The exhibition is organized by MCA Manilow Senior Curator Dieter Roelstraete and is on view November 29, 2013 - April 13, 2014.
Chicago is Morris’s tenth film and part of her ongoing series of city portraits. In this 70-minute film, set to a hypnotic electronic music score by British artist Liam Gillick, Morris frames Chicago as quintessentially American with the architecture heralding America’s future as much as it’s past. Morris is known for using a telescopic zoom - filled with close-ups and subtly spying glances - and as a result her films show both the well-tended parts of Chicago and things that are less planned.
The exhibition also features the work of Andreas Gursky, Catherine Opie, and Beat Strueli, who are among the better-known artists in the “outsider” category. These artists represent Chicago in a range of ways, one being Gursky’s photograph Board of Trade II, a documentation of the frenzied activity on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade. The exhibition also includes works by Keith Morrison and Thomas Struth from Chicago collections.
Artists Jonas Dovydenas, Kenneth Josephson, Jason Lazarus, and Bob Thall offer a more sympathetic “insider” view of Chicago. Dovydenas is known for his photojournalistic shots of ethnic Chicago, perhaps most noted for his image Iron Worker, depicting a man hunched on a steel beam jutting out from the John Hancock Center construction site in 1969.