By ALISON REILLY
EXPO Chicago announced details for their new partnership with Palais de Tokyo, the DuSable Museum of African American History, and the Institut Français. With the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, these four organizations have come together to present a group exhibition at the DuSable Museum's Roundhouse, which will coincide with EXPO Art Week (September 13-17, 2017) and the opening of the second Chicago Architecture Biennial (September 16, 2017-January 8, 2018).
Chicago architecture firm Burnham and Root designed the Roundhouse as equestrian stables for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Despite the prestige of the space, it has been vacant for more than 50 years. The DuSable Museum acquired the building in 2005 and has spent time raising funds to reconstruct and restore it to its original state.
The expansive 17,000-sq. ft. building with a vaulted ceiling, decorative windows, natural sunlight, and impressive acoustics will now serve as an ambitious exhibition space for 12 artists selected by curator Katell Jaffrès of Palais de Tokyo and guest designer Andrew Schachman, who was nominated by the Graham Foundation. Jaffrès, who spoke at the press conference on Tuesday, is still in the process of selecting artists but envisions five structures within the space, which will serve “as works of art able to welcome other works of art.” The participating artists, who will be representative both of the Chicago art scene and the Francophone world, will install site-specific works of art in the building.
A number of representatives from particpating institutions attended the announcement including Tony Karman, president of EXPO; Jean de Loisy, president of Palais de Tokyo; Perri L. Irmer, president of the DuSable Museum; Fabrice Rozie, cultural attaché of the French Embassy, along with Mark Kelly, Commissioner for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in Chicago.
Kelly expressed his enthusiasm for the partnership noting that the confluence of the Roundhouse exhibition, EXPO Chicago, the Chicago Architecture Biennial and the city’s Year of Public Art would provide an opportunity for "all of Chicago" to engage in the celebration of art, architecture and design. The 2017 Public Art initiative promises art installations in all of the Chicago's 50 wards, a move to assuage criticism that the city's funds are diverted largely to downtown areas to increase tourism.
The partnership is also significant because it marks the beginning of Palais de Tokyo’s Hors les Murs initiative, which presents off-site exhibitions around the world. Rozie emphasized that “the choice of Chicago is not random,” and that the French Embassy, along with Palais de Tokyo, is invested in engaging with cultural and educational partners across the South Side of Chicago.
Hors les Murs at the Roundhouse will be open to the public September 12-October 29, 2017.