The University of Chicago News Office Press Contact: Josh Schonwald
(773) 702-6421

Arts@UChicago: Winter contemporary art showcase in Hyde Park

Jan. 23, 2008

The University of Chicago will showcase leading contemporary artists on Thursday, Jan. 31 and Friday, Feb. 1. Over a 28-hour period, the campus will host one of the music world’s most innovative performers, launch an exhibition that features some of the world’s leading video artists, present a dialogue on the creative process of adaptation, and host a performance/conversation with one of Europe’s most inventive conceptual artists. 

The contemporary arts events begin at the University’s Smart Museum of Art (5550 S. Greenwood Ave.), resume on Friday afternoon at the Cochrane-Woods Arts Center (5540 S. Greenwood Ave), and then move two blocks east to the University’s Mandel Hall (131 E. 57th St). 

“This winter contemporary arts showcase is all part of a huge range of contemporary arts coming to the University,” said Larry Norman, the University’s Deputy Provost for the Arts, and Associate Professor in Romance Languages and Literatures. “We’re really excited about the synergies arising from these interconnected efforts.”

The winter contemporary arts showcase is the kick-off of a season of contemporary events at the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus. For more information on upcoming events at Chicago, please visit:

1) 5:30 p.m. Smart Museum of Art
“Adaptation” –  Contemporary artists discuss the art of adaptation

It’s a common practice in popular culture: Moviegoers and booklovers routinely debate whether a film version is superior to the book version. But what’s much less known is how adaptation works in the contemporary art world. How do visual artists reinterpret and re-imagine classical texts and musical scores? What obstacles and issues do they face?

Beginning Jan. 31, the Smart Museum will host “Adaptation: Video Installations by Ben-Ner, Herrera, Sullivan and Sussman & The Rufus Corporation” — one of the first exhibitions to feature the adaptations of some of the world’s leading contemporary artists. These artists have transformed source materials to make their own adapted works of art, re-envisioning classic literature, painting, film, ballet, and even e-mail as new video installations.

The exhibition, which will run through May 4, features one or two video installations for each artist.  Installations include: Guy Ben-Ner’s “Moby Dick” (2000), adapted from the classic 1851 novel; Arturo Herrera’s “Les Noces”  (2007), an adaptation of Stravinsky’s ballet, and Eve Sussman’s and The Rufus Corporation’s feature-length contemporary retelling of the Roman myth “The Rape of the Sabine Women” which was inspired, in part, by Jacques-Louis David’s 1799 painting, “The Intervention of the Sabine Women,” an earlier retelling of the myth. “Adaptation” also features two pieces from Catherine Sullivan, Assistant Professor of Visual Arts at Chicago.  Sullivan’s “Triangle of Need,” which she created with a dancer/choreographer and a composer, is a multichannel, multilayered video installation that combines elements as seemingly disparate as figure skating, prehistoric communication and e-mail scams in a work that investigates evolution, wealth, poverty and the global economy.

On Thursday, Jan. 31, at 5:30 the Smart will host a panel discussion with three of the exhibiting artists, moderated by Stephanie Smith, the museum’s Director of Collections and Exhibitions and Curator of Contemporary Art.  The forty-five minute conversation, free and open to the public, will delve into the process used by the artists Guy Ben-Her, Arturo Herrera and Catherine Sullivan to transform their sources into their own adapted work. Visitors will get a chance to gain insight into the practice of adaptation in a contemporary art, Smith said, and how visual artists deal with issues of creativity and fidelity. 

A reception celebrating the exhibition’s opening follows the panel discussion. For more information on the exhibition, and the artists, please visit

High-resolution images of the works in the exhibition are available online at:

2) 6 p.m., Cochrane-Woods Arts Center, Room 157
Guillaume Désanges – French artist, critic, curator presents “Vox artisti” His Masters’ Voices  

Just 24 hours after the opening of “Adaptation,” art aficionados will have a chance to hear from one of the most original thinkers in the European art world. Guillaume Désanges is a curator and art critic — he works with magazines such as Exit Express, Exit Book in Madrid and Trouble Magazine — but he’s also the co-founder of Work Method, a Paris-based agency for artistic projects, and he’s a performance artist.  Désanges worked with the Swiss artist Thomas Hirschorn on the 24th Foucault Project. He also developed several performed projects like “A history of performance in 20 minutes” that was exhibited in leading contemporary art museums, such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris and De Appel Institute in Amsterdam.

Désanges, who is the invited curator this year at the Centre d’Art Contemporain La Tolerie in France, will begin by presenting his 45-minute performance “Vox artisti: His Masters’ Voices” at 5 p.m. Working with hundreds of excerpts picked up from sound archives — everything from artists performances, to art conferences, interviews with artists, documentaries about artists — Désanges has created a unique conversation about art.

Delivered in the format of lecture, and first presented last year at the “TROUBLE” festival in Belgium, the aim of “Vox Artisti” is to propose a personal statement about the relationship between the voice and the visual arts. It’s an effect that Désanges describes as “an artificial dialogue between ghosts.”

“He’s included thousands of little trips of sounds from artists,” said Manol Georgieff, a graduate student at Chicago, who is coordinating the event. Conversations span the world of contemporary art — from a Marcel Duchamp interview in 1961 to a Yoko Ono podcast to a 2006 conference at Washington’s Hirschorn Museum. “It’s a really unique opportunity for those of who live and breathe contemporary art,” said Georgieff.

Immediately following the performance, Désanges will participate in an open discussion. For more information on Désanges, please visit:

3) 7:30 p.m, Mandel Hall, 131 E. 57th St. 
DBR and DJ Scientific concert,  followed by a conversation with DBR

A classical violinist paired with a disc jockey; a hip-hop infused opera. Chamber works, rock songs, electronica and funk. A multimedia collage of YouTube and MySpace clips paired with a six-string violin, piano and electronics.

It’s all the product of an artist the New York Times says is "about as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets."  Daniel Bernard Roumain, or DBR, as he’s known — the composer, performer, classical violinist, and band leader who is renowned for constantly re-interpreting music —  will visit campus for a concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1, in Mandel Hall. 

Immediately following the performance of DBR and DJ Scientific, Travis Jackson, Associate Professor of American Music in Music and the College, will moderate a discussion session.

“He’s fascinating,” said Shauna Quill, Executive Director of the University of Chicago Presents. “He performs, he composes. He’s a multimedia artist. He brings contemporary life into his program,” she said. “And everything he does is so thoughtful. For lack of a better word," said Quill, “he's at the pinnacle of cool in the music world.”

As a composer, DBR’s pieces have ranged from orchestral scores and chamber works to rock songs and electronica. As a violinist, he has worked with artists spanning the gamut — from DJ Spooky and Vernon Reid to Savion Glover, Susan Sarandon and Cassandra Wilson.  DBR has also collaborated with numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles.

A classically trained composer who earned a Ph.D. in music composition from the University of Michigan, DBR will be performing songs from his latest release “etudes4violin&electronix.”  Of DBR’s latest, the Boston Globe’s Steve Greenlee wrote, “One minute you'll think he's a classical musician, the next a jazz improviser. Then you'll think he's into electronica or ambient noise. Truth is, all of these descriptions apply over the course of his new nine-track album.”  For ticket information, please call 773-702-8080.

Subscribe to RSS headline updates from:
Powered by FeedBurner

RSSSubscribe to this feed

Search Releases:

Last modified at 09:59 PM CST on Thursday, January 24, 2008

University of Chicago News Office
5801 South Ellis Avenue - Room 200
Chicago, Illinois 60637-1473
(773) 702-8360
Fax: (773) 702-8324
Contact Us