Chicago artist Kirsten Leenaars uses collaborative techniques to create artworks that investigate our media landscape and encourage criticality. Join Lenaars to as she discusses her artistic practice and the latest evolution in her video-based work The Broadcast in conversation with MCA Interim Senior Curator January Parkos Arnall.
Kirsten Leenaars is an interdisciplinary video artist based in Chicago. Various forms of performance, theater, and documentary strategies make up the threads that run through her work. She engages with individuals and communities to create participatory video and performance work. Her work oscillates between fiction and documentation, reinterprets personal stories and reimagines everyday realities through shared authorship, staging and improvisation.
Leenaars examines how we relate to others and explores how new forms of relating can be created through the production of an artwork itself. Recent projects include The Broadcast (2019), a video project for the Broad Museum in East Lansing considering truth and distortion in public address and media representations; Present Tense (2019), a multichannel video work, commissioned by Illinois Humanities, in which young men and women reflect on their lived experiences of the current justice system and prison-industrial complex and (Re)Housing the American Dream (2015–ongoing), a multi-year performative documentary project with American-born and refugee youth commissioned by the Haggerty Museum of Art in Milwaukee.
Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, at venues including the Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City; MAI, Montreal; the District of Columbia Arts Center, Washington DC; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Glass Curtain Gallery, Threewalls, Gallery 400, and 6018North, Chicago; Elaine L. Jacob Gallery, Detroit; Printed Matter, Inc., New York; the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; and Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin. Leenaars has received multiple grants from the Any Warhol Foundation; The Mondrian Fund; cultural support grants from the Dutch Consulate in New York, Milwaukee Art Board Production Grant and Fonds BKVB. She currently is an associate professor in the Department of Contemporary Practices and the performance department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.