The Bike Room is pleased to present Keeping In/Keeping Out, in which Ann Chen reimagines, among layers of image and masonry, a fifty-foot berm erected last July at the Open Lands Preserve in Lake Forest, Illinois.
Chen regards unfamiliar territories as points of departure, scouting out would-be raconteurs of local history and gathering backstories. Pushing the physical boundaries of the Ragdale Residency, Chen developed this project with the Lake Forest Open Lands Association. The LFOLA accommodated Chen with a tractor and use of mulch collected by the city, shared amongst Open Lands and neighboring residents. The result was a temporary fifty-foot wall that forms a visual barrier in the open prairie – a land drawing painstakingly crafted – that invites visitor engagement. Also a sound barrier, the berm shrouds viewers, and wildlife, in noiseless rooms that feign asylum. Keeping In/Keeping Out poses questions of the interdependence of protected landscape and its community: how is a place established and whom does it belong to? Do walls protect, or deflect, adorn or obstruct?
For The Bike Room, Chen extends these experiences through a basic form: line. The temporary berm formed a visual line in the prairie-scape, obscuring our view into designated public land. New works continue to explore how line is used as border, and as physical and psychological leverage.
Ann Chen’s inquiries have led her to the Catwalk Institute Residency, Peoria Center for the Arts, the Roger Brown Residency and the Ragdale Residency. Exhibitions include Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, slow gallery, Chicago, Emerge Art Fair, Washington D.C, Heaven Gallery, Chicago, the Research House for Asian Art and the Zhou B. Art Center, Chicago. She is a recipient of the Midwest Voices and Visions Award.