Future Fossils: SUM

Monday, Aug 30 – Nov 13, 2021

5020 S. Cornell
Chicago, IL 60615

Hyde Park Art Center, the renowned non-profit hub for contemporary art located on Chicago’s vibrant South Side, announces a major new sculpture exhibition by Chicago artist Lan Tuazon, Future Fossils: SUM, on view September 7 – November 13, and curated by Allison Peters Quinn, Art Center Director of Exhibition & Residency Programs. The exhibition offers visitors an encounter with a future house that doesn’t yet exist—one constructed solely with recovered materials. It visualizes the sum of a lifespan’s worth of human material traces in the world, nestled together as a one-bedroom house built to scale and exhibited inside the two-story gallery at the Art Center.

As envisioned by the artist, Future Fossils: SUM is a test site for what a house would look like in a “circular economy,” which builds a sustainable society producing  minimal waste vs the current extractive take-make-waste industrial model known as a “linear economy.” Asking the question “how much of the 109 tons of waste produced per person in a lifetime can be reabsorbed into one’s present needs?” Tuazon repurposes and transforms found everyday objects—mass produced containers, common packaged goods, tchotchkes, household items—to give mass to the unseen byproduct of consumption and propose an extended life span of objects. The artist dissects, layers, and presses such objects to present a stratification-like form, mimicking fossils as a visualization of geological time while creating new items from materials with past uses. Visitors are invited to contribute by dropping off plastic goods to be shredded on site, which will then be turned into raw materials for sheet press companies. 

Future Fossils: SUM marks the final installation in Tuazon’s decade-long trilogy, Shift in the Order of Things, in which the artist challenges how an individual is subjected towards an ideological version of the world. Tuazon’s trilogy consists of three themes—economy, culture, and power—with works about the urban plan, cultural history, and human-made geology. Revealing and reinserting what is erased from the existing Western order of the built world, Tuazon’s sculptures function as a tool to propose alternate realities. The first installment, titled Architectures of Defense, was exhibited at Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany in 2010, interpreting common barrier structures in urban landscape as instruments of racial and class division. The second chapter, a solo exhibition, On the Wrong Side of History at the Brooklyn Museum in 2011, highlighted the separation of world cultures relegated to the past as preserved through museums and academic institutions. These two projects on architecture and artifacts led the artist to the subject of planetary conditions as human activities now have the greatest impact on geological and ecological systems, as presented in this latest installation. Through Future Fossil: SUM, Tuazon aims to decentralize human and existing categories of human knowledge. She states, “The trilogy itself is an onion with strata-like layers that telescope from the scale of a human body at the core to the planetary conditions that contain it and conversely, from the planet to the body, resembling a circular economy.”

“For this exhibition, the Art Center will become a laboratory for radical processes in new material led by artist Lan Tuazon,” according to Allison Peters Quinn. “When Lan was participating in the Jackman Goldwasser Residency here in 2017, she proposed the idea of building a house filled with bisected and recycled containers ranging from hot sauce bottles to shipping containers. I had no idea how impactful her work would be on piloting new materials from recovered plastics. This immersive installation will truly put into perspective the geologic weight of our consumer habits, while literally building inhabitable structures from waste.”


Tuazon shares the inspiration and goal for creating her trilogy: “It inspires me to think that reality is an unfinished project. When I look at the built world, I know it exists at the erasure of other possibilities.  You can make up the difference if you're a builder, but the goal is not to rebuild everything, but to create the double that reminds you that possibilities are in the making. My sculptures are meant to be evidence of the very things we deny, and artworks that give visibility to the nature of our condition.”



Lan Tuazon (b.1976, Philippines) lives and works in Chicago where she is an Associate Professor of Sculpture at the School of Art Institute in Chicago. Tuazon has exhibited internationally at the Neue Galerie in the Imperial Palace (Austria), Bucharest Biennale 4 (Romania), the WKV Kunstverein (Germany), and the Lowry Museum (U.K.). Solo exhibitions have been held at Brooklyn Museum and Storefront of Art and Architecture (New York), Youngworld, Inc (Detroit), and Julius Caesar (Chicago). She was awarded artist-in-residence fellowships by the Akademie Schloss Solitude (Germany), Headlands Art Center (U.S.), and Civitella Ranieri (Italy). Tuazon’s work has been featured in group exhibitions in New York at 8th Floor Rubin Foundation, Artist Space, Canada Gallery, Sculpture Center, Apex Art, Exit Art; in Los Angeles at Redcat Gallery; in addition to here at Hyde Park Art Center. Lan Tuazon received her B.A. from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 1999, her M.F.A. from Yale University in 2002, and graduated from Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program in 2003. 

For more information on the exhibition and related public programs, please visit www.hydeparkart.org.


COVID-19-related safety protocols

Hyde Park Art Center views its community's safety as the number one priority and is utilizing the guidance from the City and State to inform its reopening procedures including the requiring of masks to be worn in the building at all times; instituting extra cleaning and disinfecting procedures; wide availability of hand sanitizer throughout the building; and the careful configuring of exhibition hours so as to help regulate the number of people and maintain proper social distance in the Art Center at one time.


Admission and hours

Exhibition admission is free, and advance registration is required. For latest exhibition hours and advance registration, visit www.hydeparkart.org.


About the Hyde Park Art Center

Hyde Park Art Center, at 5020 South Cornell Avenue on Chicago’s vibrant South Side, is a hub for contemporary arts in Chicago, serving as a gathering and production space for artists and the broader community to cultivate ideas, impact social change, and connect with new networks. Since its inception in 1939, Hyde Park Art Center has grown from a small collective of quirky artists to establishing a strong legacy of innovative development and emerging as a unique Chicago arts institution with social impact. The Art Center functions as an amplifier for today and tomorrow’s creative voices, providing the space to cultivate and create new work and connections.

For more information, please visit www.hydeparkart.org.