March 31, 2014

“Out There: Contemporary Practice, Art, and Civility”

Museum of Contemporary Art
Sam Durant, We Are the People, 2003. Photo: Project Row Houses.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is pleased to host Out There: Contemporary Practice, Art, and Civility,” a symposium exploring the relationship between contemporary practice, civic engagement, art, and the work of museums. This daylong discussion brings together artists, activists, curators, educators, and historians to examine contemporary issues relating to collaboration, social practice, community outreach, and civic engagement.

What are appropriate modes of behavior for both artists and museums? What are the ethical, critical, and practical questions practitioners are asking today? What methodologies, sensibilities, and artistic practices are changing the work of museums? This symposium considers these questions in the context of artistic innovation and critical inquiry, encouraging artists to discuss their work as it relates to museums as well as the world beyond gallery walls.

Participants include Tom Finkelpearl, Director of the Queens Art Museum and author of What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation; Ernesto Pujol, performance artist, social choreographer, and educator; Design 99 founders Gina Reichert and Mitch Cope, who investigate new models of contemporary art and architectural practice in Detroit; Wael Shawky, artist and founder of MASS Alexandria, the first independent studio study program for young artists in Egypt; Sally Tallant, Executive Director of the Liverpool Biennial, the UK Biennial of International Contemporary Art, and former head of programs at the Serpentine Gallery, London; Ivy Wilson, associate professor of English and Director of American Studies at Northwestern University; Rick Lowe, artist and founder of Project Row Houses (PRH), a nonprofit arts organization; Emmanuel Pratt, photographer, urban designer, and farmer, as well as Director of Sweet Water Foundation in Chicago and professor of urban development; Can Altay, an architect, artist, designer, and scholar living in Istanbul; and Lisa Yun Lee, Director of the School of Art and Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The symposium is convened by Heidi Reitmaier, Beatrice C. Mayer Director of Education, MCA Chicago. It is one of a series of ongoing public discussions hosted by the MCA each year to explore the role and identity of museums in the twenty-first century.

Share your ideas, thoughts, and photos with the MCA Chicago before, during, and after the conference on Twitter and Instagram using #OutThere2014.

For more information, visit

Tickets may be purchased online or call the MCA Box Office at T +1 312 397 4010.
MCA members $8, nonmembers $10, students $6 (subject to availability)

This program has been made possible by the generous contributors to the Allen M. Turner Tribute Fund, honoring his past leadership as Chairman of the MCA Board of Trustees.



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