Biographical Extensions I, 2006

Biographical Extensions I_2_webBiographical Extensions I, 2006
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL

For three months prior to this exhibition, Material Exchange collected discarded art-related materials from the MCA Store, warehouse, offices, grounds, dumpsters, and roof to create a site- and material-specific installation.Working with collaborators Alta Buden, Brendan Sullivan, Dani Henke, Danny Mansmith, David Wolf, Eric Newman, Julia Klein, Michael Dinges, Rod Northcutt, Theaster Gates, and Trudy Watt, Material Exchange fabricated twenty-four two-by-two-by-two-foot modular cubes. The cube’s form, often a metaphor for the space of a museum or a gallery, mirrors the MCA’s geometric form and highlights the circularity of the project. The cubes — constructed from material originally created or used by the museum, which were later devalued and discarded — have been repositioned as art within this gallery.Drawing attention to the natural world where nothing is discarded, one cube is removed from the gallery each day for later use as a plant container. In a continual cycle of movement and exchange, the cube is replaced by artistic information. A photograph documents its sculptural position in the gallery and a video records its removal. This transformation from sculpture to planter acknowledges not only the similarities and differences between the natural world and the art world, which tries to minimize nature’s effects — bacteria, mildew, and oxidation — but those between utilitarian and aesthetic values. In its lifecycle within and without the MCA, the cube demonstrates how an object’s value increases and decreases when and where it is considered information, nature, waste, or art.