Shannon Bool: 1:1

Opening: Thursday, Nov 10, 2022 5 – 7 pm
Thursday, Nov 10, 2022 – Apr 2, 2023

Columbia College Chicago
600 S. Michigan
Chicago, IL 60605

The Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago (MoCP) presents Shannon Bool: 1:1 from November 10, 2022 – April 2, 2023. Shannon Bool: 1:1 is the artist’s first museum solo exhibition in the United States. Shannon Bool (Canada, b. 1972, lives and works in Berlin) is renowned for her unconventional use of materials in works that probe of the history of modernist architecture, often revealing aspects of patriarchal standards and colonialism that underly the legacies of some of its most famous practitioners. This exhibition is organized by Karen Irvine, Chief Curator and Deputy Director. 

In one series, Bool takes inspiration from Le Corbusier’s erotic drawings by overlaying his plans for the capital city of Algiers onto Orientalist postcards circulating at the time featuring North African women as exotic sex objects. In another work, a large-scale tapestry titled The Weather, Bool presents a view from the interior of Mies van der Rohe-designed Farnsworth House that is embroidered with ornamentation that imbues the angular image with a sense of femininity, disrupting the austerity of materials such as glass and steel that are often associated with masculine power. 

The exhibition title 1:1, plays off the scale used for architectural drawings that are the same size as the planned structure will be in real life, underscoring Bool’s interest in connecting architectural and art history with feminist concerns. In a major new tapestry commission, Bool inserts an advertising image of metallic knee-high boots onto an image of a low-tech, 1:1 model built in 2013 of Mies van der Rohe’s unrealized golf club in Krefeld, Germany. The model, made of plywood and metal, was a ghostly avatar for Mies’ unrealized design, now further abstracted into a tapestry with a feminine punch designed by Bool, undermining the utopian and austere principles of Mies’s design. 

Interested in phenomenologist Maurice Merlau-Ponty’s concept of the “Lived Body,” which contends that external reality and subjective identity are the result of bodily experience and action in a space, Bool uses materiality to infuse rigid architectural themes with a sense of tactility and imperfection. By interjecting subtle references to elements forgotten in the history of architecture, Bool slyly reveals what might be suppressed under the myth of modernism.

Previous solo exhibitions of Bool’s work have been shown most recently at the Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris; Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany; and Musée d’art de Joliette, Québec. Bool’s work is held in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Ottowa, Ontario; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Québec. 

Image: Shannon Bool, The Weather, 2019