Installing Kulapat Yantrasast/WHY Architecture’s Window Screens, 2008, Bucksbaum Gallery, Art Institute of Chicago, 2012.

Installing Kulapat Yantrasast/WHY Architecture’s Window Screens, 2008, Bucksbaum Gallery, Art Institute of Chicago, 2012.

Liz Deschenes

Installing Kulapat Yantrasast/WHY Architecture’s Window Screens, 2008, Bucksbaum Gallery, Art Institute of Chicago, 2012.

THIS PAST SPRING, I participated in “Parcours,” a project at the Art Institute of Chicago, with Austrian artist Florian Pumhösl and curator Matthew Witkovsky. On view through September 9, it is somewhere between a curated exhibition and a collaborative artwork. Together we created an exhibition design for a gallery in the museum’s new wing and selected photographs from the permanent collection. There was no theme, so we were able to create conversations among works that would not usually occur— for example, an Ansel Adams book installed diagonally across from a Florence Henri self-portrait. Independently, each of us has worked closely with photography—or maybe, more precisely, with the elements of the medium—and so it was interesting to observe how we collectively conceived (whether consciously or not) of the exhibition space as a kind of light-sensitive apparatus with different chambers and viewfinders. By removing the wall between the gallery and the garden, we exposed the room to light in a new way and subtly revealed the AIC to be a dynamic structure (thus hopefully dispelling any aura of architectural neutrality). In lieu of the wall, we installed an elegant set of screens that normally filters sun in an older part of the museum. As it happened, the UV radiation in our space was still too high to permit hanging the museum’s works throughout the gallery, even with the screens in place. Yet the restrictions worked to our benefit. In the too-bright areas, Florian and I mounted our own works—glass pieces for Florian and, for my part, cameraless photographs made to reflect the surrounding space and the daylight that animates its contents. In turn, our art mirrors the museum as machine—a viewing device that determines not just what is seen but how.