Iterations: Naughty Nymphs in the Courtyard of the Favorites

Saturday, Apr 23, 2022 11 am – 5 pm

111 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60603

Naughty Nymphs in the Courtyard of the Favorites

Apr 23, 2022 | 11:00–2:00 and 3:00–5:00


Galleries 161 and 261


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No event registration required. Performances will take place continuously during the hours listed



For Paulina Olowska (born 1976), painting and performance are closely entwined. Her performances function as subtext for her paintings, drawing out reciprocal relationships between scenography and movement, the still image and the moving body. With her newly commissioned work Naughty Nymphs in the Courtyard of the Favorites, the artist finds inspiration in the Art Institute’s galleries of American art, where Ellsworth Kelly’s The Chicago Panels (1989–99) surround an atrium housing Neoclassical sculptures—mythological and idealized manifestations of the nude female body. Investigating the sexual politics of space and building upon her long-term interest in images from fashion and advertising, Olowska critically engages with representations of the female body in this performance event. 


Naughty Nymphs in the Courtyard of the Favorites centers on the particular aesthetic of the soft-core magazine Viva. Specifically developed for female readers, Viva emerged in the 1970s era of “porno chic,” when pornography entered the mainstream consciousness of America. The magazine’s hazy and seductive eroticism—reminiscent of the era’s French Emmanuelle films— combined provocative writing on male and female sexuality with fashion editorials and full-frontal male nudity. Olowska presents this performance in collaboration with five muses adopting the role of nymphs, whose whispers resonate among the marble surfaces of the courtyard turned harem; six transparent paintings by Olowska inspired by Viva; Kelly’s enormous, opaque panels; and the bodies moving between them. 

Naughty Nymphs in the Courtyard of the Favorites is the fourth installment of Iterations, the Art Institute’s multiyear series of new performance commissions. 


Paulina Olowska
Paulina Olowska was born in 1976 in Gdańsk, Poland, and lives and works in Rabka-Zdrój and Krakow, Poland. She has had solo-person exhibitions at Kunsthalle Basel; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw. Olowska received the prestigious Aachen Art Prize in 2014, with an associated exhibition at the Ludwig Forum for International Art, Aachen, Germany. She has also staged performances at Tate Modern, the Carnegie International, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Olowska presented the ballet Slavic Goddesses—A Wreath of Ceremonies at The Kitchen, New York, in 2017 and Slavic Goddesses and the Ushers at the Museo del Novecento in Milan in 2018. Her work was featured in the 2017 National Gallery of Victoria Triennial in Melbourne and the 2018 Liverpool Biennial, as well as in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; mumok, Vienna; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zürich; and the New Museum, New York.

Lindsay Zae Summers 
Born and raised in Washington, DC, Lindsay Zae Summers lived in Seattle from 2013 through 2018 and has been in Chicago and New York since 2018. A multidisciplinary artist, she uses movement at the core of her work, creating performance rooted in empathy building, innovating, exploring, dismantling, reclaiming, and collaborating. Summers holds a BFA in theater, and her acting credits span classical, contemporary, and commercial work.

Yana Verba
Yana Verba is a Ukrainian-Canadian painter who was born in Ukraine in 1983 and immigrated to Canada in 1999. She is a former fashion model who was represented internationally by Ford and Elite agencies from 2001 to 2008. Verba studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York and received a BFA in drawing and painting from OCAD University in Toronto in 2015. She grounds her art practice in a language of abstraction that uses rhythmic patterns, colors, and movement. Verba derives inspiration from Modernists of the early 20th century and currently is working on a series of paintings that echoes Soviet monumental art and Soviet Ukrainian mosaics. She has exhibited in Canada, the United States, and the Middle East. Verba has lived and worked in California since 2015.

Laura Morgan 
Born in Ireland, Laura Morgan moved to England when she was six. A very tumultuous upbringing led her into the music and party scene where she discovered her love of creativity and a passion for exploring a new world beyond the one she was born into. She has worked as a greengrocer, cleaner, ticket salesperson, in-house model for Alexander McQueen, director, producer, photographer, musician, writer, costume designer on Hollywood movies and three of Madonna’s tours, stylist, collaborator, fashion model, and home builder. Morgan is the founder of WECAN creative workshops with at-risk kids.

Roxane Danset-Mahoney
Roxane Danset-Mahoney was born and raised in the Flanders region of France and started her career in 1999 in Paris in charge of press for Martin Margiela, then at Acne. She went on to be a fashion editor for Self Service magazine. Dasnset-Mahoney moved to New York in 2011 to marry a drummer, sculptor, and family man; there they raised three boys. In New York she also began to devote her professional attention to styling and fashion consulting and has done so ever since. Dasnset-Mahoney has collaborated on books, exhibitions, and magazine projects with artists such as Marina Abramović, K8 Hardy, Rachel Feinstein, Paulina Olowska, and Viviane Sassen.

Cristal Sabbagh
Cristal Sabbagh’s performance practice, rooted in improvisation and Butoh, walks a line between the everyday, the divine, the personal, and the political. In embodying transformational memories while simultaneously celebrating pop culture and the experimental, she challenges power structures and awakens viewers’ senses. Working both in a solo capacity and with collaborators, Sabbagh is equally attuned to individual perspectives and collective structures. In various configurations, these collaborators have regularly engaged in improvised performances, opening up new avenues for Sabbagh’s material and conceptual exploration. Sabbagh is an interdisciplinary artist and curator, who was recently granted a 3Arts Make a Wave award.

Audio Jack 
Drawing upon a lifetime of passion and appreciation for music, art, and cinema, Audio Jack has provided a unique thoughtfulness to custom music and sound experiences since 2007. A native Chicagoan, Jack has performed in Los Angeles, New York City, Austin for SXSW, in Chicago’s Pride Parade, at the MCA, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, Navy Pier, as well as a multitude of entertainment venues and other special events.


Emmanuelle, 2020

Paulina Olowska