Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

Posted in Uncategorized | March 26, 2008 | by emilyharney | Leave a Comment

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Our first days in Chicago were rushed as we came straight off the plane to the theatre. One case was lost but found again at the airport: it had fallen off the conveyor belt and fallen behind a curtain. Our hotel rooms were not available so Colin and I spent our waiting time at the Museum of Contemporary Art dressing rooms, which was fine, as I worked on my computer which was what I would have done at the hotel room.

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The Chicago MCA is a non profit and educational institution. Like the Walker they have a strong performance art program showing, performance, music, theatre, dance and media arts. They feature experimental and emerging artists as well as established artists. Certainly in the USA, museums show quite a lot of performance which can be as mainstream as Merce Cunningham, and which contrasts strongly with Australian museums which shows very little, and is left up to commercial theatres or festivals to show. I think this museum audience, which doesn’t even exist in Australia, come along not expecting traditional forms.

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Publicity had been good. Three articles. We got about 70 people the first night and 48 the second. Certainly not a disaster, but disappointing, since this was our biggest city. Sometimes it’s possible for me to fall through the cracks of a larger city where there is more going on. The people who came certainly enjoyed it and the discussion after the show was very positive.

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Ann Rosenthal, our presenter from MAPP, had come over to show us some support, and it was great having her there. She took us to an excellent lunch at the CMCA restaurant. And Peter took us to an excellent dinner after the show at the restaurant at our hotel. Peter told me he liked the show.

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Also present at dinner was my third cousin Shauna Quill who works at Chicago University in the music department, programming. Once she had been the booking agent for Pavarotti, ie not his actual agent but the person who booked the USA tour. She said Pavarotti was the easiest act she ever booked because no one argued the bookings. As Shauna told this story Ann’s face clouded slightly, as I know the tour of Shadows has been the opposite: she’s had to work really hard to make it happen. We do appreciate your effort and accomplishments, Ann.

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Our extra curricular activity included a talk by me at Little Black Pearl Center, which is a large, impressive, community centre mostly for young people in a poor suburb. Although there was only a few people from the centre, a handful of loyal supporters who had seen the show a few nights before came along, and we were able to have an intimate discussion, about life, as it turned out. My cousin Shauna showed up and I went to have dinner with her so I missed Colin’s performance. He had a slot as part of a regular jazz evening at the centre, which was well attended, and went well.

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Heidi, the art coordinator at Little Black Pearl took us under her wing, and the following night took Gordon and Colin to a jazz club. I had come down with a cold and was lying low, also I had a big article to write for Kunsten Festival. However I went with them the following day when she took us out for the afternoon, showing us around developing areas in West Chicago. She was extremely communally minded and knew the changing sociologies of the neighbourhoods. She showed us some interesting places, including a conservatory where she had worked, so it was nice to walk around in the hot atmosphere, and a good Mexican restaurant. We explained that Mexican restaurants in Australia were awful.

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We didn’t get back until late, and so I missed seeing the collection at the MCA, which I wanted to see, so symbolically the MCA and I missed each other. This was born out at 4.30am the following morning when we were waiting for a van outside our hotel to catch the plane to Boston. The van didn’t arrive, they had booked it for 4.30PM.

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