Gallery 400 Asks How Olympic-Sized Events Affect Cities

Gallery 400 at the University of Illinois at Chicago presents “Global Cities, Model Worlds,” an exhibition traveling to past World’s Fairs and Olympic host cities to explore these events’ social and physical impacts. It will run concurrently with “The World Finder,” an exhibition on a lost aspect of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

Opening reception: Jan. 20, 5-8 p.m.
On view through March 3: Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Saturday noon–6 p.m.

Gallery 400
UIC Art + Design Hall
400 S. Peoria St.

“Global Cities, Model Worlds” contrasts promises of world-class transformation with the realities of the urban redevelopment that accompanies spectacles like the Olympics and World’s Fairs. Locally, these events pave the way for new public parks, stadiums, and transportation lines, but they often displace residents and businesses, usually in disadvantaged areas.

The artists gathered visual and narrative evidence through a decade of research and dozens of site visits. They present the information through documentary, interpretative, and poetic methods in an installation that includes a dimensional wall mural and case studies presented in a manner that references Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Map.

“Global Cities, Model Worlds” was seen recently at Carnegie Mellon University as part of the Pittsburgh Biennial, co-curated by the Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. The exhibition will travel through 2013 to cities that hosted an Olympics, an Olympic bid, or a World’s Fair.

Ryan Griffis teaches new media art at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Lize Mogel creates counter-cartography and has mapped public parks in Los Angeles, future territorial disputes in the Arctic, and wastewater economies in New York. Sarah Ross works in video, sculpture, and photography, and teaches at the School of the Art Institute Chicago and at an Illinois state prison.

In “The World Finder,” historical re-enactors Pocket Guide to Hell recount their story of Steele MacKaye, who in 1893 began building the Spectatorium, a vast, mechanically innovative theater for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. MacKaye planned to stage “The World Finder,” an epic musical dramatizing Columbus’ voyage to America.

Half a million dollars into its construction, the Spectatorium lost funding due to the Panic of 1893, and the theater was sold as scrap, according to Pocket Guide to Hell. MacKaye died soon after.

The exhibition includes a complete section of the theater, a scrapbook donated by the MacKaye family, costumes for Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella, and salvaged lumber that was used in Chicago sidewalks and workers’ cottages. An abridged performance of “The World Finder” will accompany the exhibition on Feb. 29 at 7 mark the 118th anniversary of Steele MacKaye’s death.

Pocket Guide to Hell includes Paul Durica, Michelle Faust, Kenneth Morrison, Sayward Schoonmaker, and Nat Ward, who have presented programs on hobo life, the Haymarket Affair, and the 1915 Parade of the Unemployed.

[Note: Photo available for download at]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email