Alexandre da Cunha Agenda Closing (Theater and Galleries) Free Member Picks Recommended Image

When: July 18-24 2016

For the past five years, the MCA has installed public art projects outside, near the front steps of the building's main entrance, in order to enliven the city's landscape with contemporary art. This summer the Brazilian contemporary artist Alexandre da Cunha brings three interactive pieces to the plaza: Mix (Americana) (2013), a full-scale cement mixer cleaned up and freshly painted with red-white-and-blue stars and stripes, and Figurehead (2015) and Biscuit (2015), two large-scale sculptures made from Chicago-produced concrete sewer pipes.

While da Cunha's Chicago pieces might share similar characteristics with his previous public pieces, "they also have different regional inflections to them," says MCA chief curator Michael Darling. "The interesting thing is that da Cunha finds different materials and forms in each country because of different engineering specifications and requirements."

Da Cunha's sculptures take elements from spontaneous urban design in places like Brazil, where people do not have much choice but to repurpose found materials. In the spirit of Marcel Duchamp, he appropriates and displaces ready-made-like objects and reorients them as artworks, repeatedly repurposing materials such as soda bottles, umbrellas, hats, kitchen utensils, towels, and skateboards and forcing viewers to consider questions such as "What do these objects have in common?" and "Why is a cement mixer displayed in a museum?"

When planning da Cunha's Plaza Project, both Darling and the artist had in mind the inaugural Chicago Architectural Biennial, opening this October. "He creates a sort of confusion," says Darling, "where people would drive or walk by the MCA Plaza and ask, 'What is going on at the MCA; is there some kind of construction going on here?' " What will architects say of Figurehead—a 30-foot-tall tower made by stacking three different pipes? —Ionit Behar

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