Navy Pier, Chicago’s mission-driven cultural district, is set to showcase the works of world-renowned contemporary artist Nick Cave and international architect and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gangthis September. The two creative powerhouses are coming together for the first time to present Here Hear Chicago, a new site-specific project series that incorporates art, design and performance. The epic collaboration will be featured at the Pier on September 13 and 16 as part of the free public programming for the Chicago Architecture Biennial and EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Modern & Contemporary Art. The joint project is an extension of Navy Pier’s ongoing commitment to offer guests free, one-of-a-kind arts and cultural programming, designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe.
As part of Here Hear Chicago, the locally-based duo, Cave and Gang, will present a series of live productions in which Cave’s performers will interact with and respond to a set of dynamic, custom-fabricated “Stage Buoys,” designed by Gang and her practice, Studio Gang. The program kicks off with Cave’s newest performance work, Up Right Chicago, on Wednesday, September 13 at 9 p.m. in the Aon Grand Ballroom, coinciding with the preview opening night of EXPO CHICAGO (September 13 – 17, 2017) in Festival Hall. On Saturday, September 16, Cave will present his internationally-acclaimed HEARD Chicago at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in Polk Bros Park, as well as a Soundsuit invasion at 2 p.m. at the Wave Wall on the South Dock. Guests are encouraged to make their way to the Lake Stage on the Polk Bros Park Performance Lawns to catch a special 5 p.m. viewing of Here Hear Chicago on Screen, a collection of short films and documentary clips highlighting Cave’s iconic works. In the event of rain or inclement weather, HEARD Chicago will move to Sunday, September 17 in the Aon Grand Ballroom.
All Here Hear Chicago events and performances are free and open to the public, with limited seating available in the Aon Grand Ballroom. Those interested in attending the Ballroom performance(s) should check the Navy Pier website for registration information.
“I so look forward to sharing Up Right and HEARD with my hometown Chicago,” said Cave. “We have been blessed to bring these community-based, collaborative works to other cities and have watched their effect ripple out in the neighborhoods for months and years after. Given this city, this particular moment and the artists coming forward to join forces, I am certain that the ideas of empowerment and collective dreaming will be absorbed and shared wide and far.”
Cave’s expressive art pairs imaginatively with Studio Gang’s innovative designs to create a playground of interaction for guests to experience and enjoy. Building upon the participatory nature of Cave’s work, Studio Gang’s “Stage Buoys” will define a flexible space for performance, responding to the spontaneous interactions of performers and the public.
“Our design features mobile objects, or ‘Stage Buoys,’ that will collectively define a space for performance,” said Gang. “Reflecting the kinetic experience of Nick’s performances, the mobile objects find equilibrium amid the movement of the performers and bustle of the audience at Navy Pier.”
The “Stage Buoys” are self-balancing, upright objects with a mirrored finish that react to, and reflect the movements of the performers, and can be re-arranged for each performance. More than 200 “Stage Buoys” will demarcate the stage, defining a space that is neutral enough to host different performances but specific enough to give an identity to the broader series. The design references buoys or sea marks that float on the surface of water, communicating information through color, light, material, and shape. Like a traditional buoy, the “Stage Buoys” are designed with a very low center of mass so they will return to an upright position after interactions with the performers or being moved by other forces such as the wind, adding to the dynamism of Cave’s performances.
Studio Gang’s “Stage Buoys” will remain on display throughout the Pier once the performance series wraps, serving as temporary art installations and offering guests the unique opportunity to view and engage with the pieces up close through the course of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial.
“While the ‘Stage Buoys’ are designed specifically for the Here Hear Chicago performances, our hope is that they will pique the curiosity of guests and other artists who may find new ways to play and interact with them, giving them a life beyond this event,” added Gang.
Here Hear Chicago also showcases one of the most prolific and innovative jazz musicians and composers of his generation, Kahil El’Zabar. As part of the series, El’Zabar and his Art Music Ensemble (AME) will produce and perform the music for Up Right Chicago and HEARD Chicago, with new original pieces composed by maestro El’Zabar and arranged by the great Robert “Baabe” Irving III. AME also features a stellar cast of internationally acclaimed master musicians, including, Alex Harding; Charles Heath; Ian Maksin; Tammy McCann; artist, producer and bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma; and Corey Wilkes. Each score will consist of four to five movements. HEARD Chicago will also feature the Chicago Children’s Choir as part of the score and performance. For each number, El’Zabar and company will aim to perform fresh, adventurous music that inspires their audience to feel a sense of uplifting transcendence.
“My hope is to take the audience on a sonic journey through the mind and art of world-renowned visual artist Nick Cave and superstar architect Jeanne Gang,” said El’Zabar. “I am thrilled to be a part of this extraordinary project that integrates all of our works, with our art and creative process becoming the tools that uplift us all!”
The Cave-Gang collaboration is part of a series of special projects initiated by the Chicago Architecture Biennial, which provides a platform for groundbreaking architectural projects and spatial experiments that demonstrate how creativity and innovation can radically transform our lived experience. The 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial will be open to the public and on view from September 16, 2017 through January 7, 2018. The kickoff of the 2017 Biennial will align with the sixth annual EXPO CHICAGO, which hosts leading art galleries presented alongside one of the highest quality platforms for global contemporary art and culture each September.
Here Hear Chicago is supported by a lead grant from the Chicago Free For All Fund at the Chicago Community Trust. The Chicago Free For All Fund was established for the purpose of supporting and promoting free cultural activities and events in the city of Chicago, with a primary focus on the performing arts and interactive visual arts. Additional funding for the program comes from The Joyce Foundation, which works to support artists and arts organizations in Chicago and the Great Lakes region. The project is also supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, which makes project-based grants to individuals and organizations, and produces public programs to foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture and society.