SAIC, its history and students are being exhibited at the 280 Project Space on the Columbus Drive building. “Excavating Otherness: We are on Display,” presents the SAIC student as the other, as the subject of an ethnographic study.
The gallery displays old issues of F Newsmagazine that evidence important events in the history of the school, as well as other documents and pictures. The exhibition remembers an attempt to create a school mascot, controversies around student artwork etc.
Mel Theobald, alum of the painting department, appears nude in one of the old pictures the gallery displays. He was part of a memorable incident that took place when he attended SAIC in the 60’s. Visiting the exhibition he recalled that in 1964 the Sculpture department had organized activities, “to open up students’ minds and to think about artwork as something other than objects,” but no painters where invited. “We decided to body paint ourselves to participate,” he recalled. “We thought it would be a really great idea to go to the museum (AIC) and be live works of art,” he told F. So they came into the Art Institute of Chicago nude, though covered in paint, but not for long. The museum guards chased them right back outside. Nevertheless, by that moment photographers from different newspapers of the city were already there and the incident appeared on a full page of the Daily News the next day. “I think we were just full of ourselves by that time,” he admitted laughing.
The exhibition was curated by SAIC students of Rhoda Rosen’s Curatorial Practice course and on its opening night on November 30th presented a performance featuring the transgender artist Natalia Nicholson, Hsinyen Wei, Diandra Miller, and Michelle Yuan. The interactive performance dealt with issues of gender and violence and invited the public to participate in it by writing words related to the topic over the nude bodies of the performers in a powerful and engaging experience. It was a performance by and about the artists where they presented themselves as absolutely vulnerable.
The opening night closed with a panel discussion with the participation of Alaka Wali from the Field Museum, Lisa Lee from the Jane Adams Hull House and the artist Ian Weaver, moderated by Rhoda Rosen.
“Excavating Otherness: We are on Display,” is an interesting experiment that will be open for visitors until December 16th, 2011.