Jimmy Robert: Descendances du nu (Chicago)

© Photo: Daris Jasper

Sept. 20 - Nov. 30
Fridays, 5 PM - 5:30 PM, Saturdays, 2 PM - 2:30 PM
Chicago Architecture Biennial
78 E Washington St, Chicago
Free Admission

Descendances du nu (Chicago), 2016–19
Wood panels, prints, fabric, headpiece and costume, performance

Courtesy the artist; Stigter Van Doesburg, Amsterdam; Tanya Leighton, Berlin; and Frac Grand Large, Hauts-de-France, Dunkirk

Soundscape conceived by Ain Bailey

While Descending... written by Élisabeth Lebovici

Performerd by Brittany Anderson, Khloe Janel, Caitlin Marz, Gina Hoch Stall, and Lily Jean Ryan-Lozon

Jimmy Robert uses performance, photography, film, video, and drawing to explore important artworks from the twentieth century in ways that complicate their racial and gendered readings. Composed of several objects activated by sound and performance, Descendances du nu (Chicago) is named after Marcel Duchamp’s iconic painting Nude Descending a Staircase (1912), which marked a turning point in the history of art. The installation also cites artists Sturtevant, Sherrie Levine, and Louise Lawler, whose works replicate and/or borrow from other artists’ works as a way to explore authorship and originality; each of them at some point has quoted Duchamp’s famous painting. Against the backdrop of the Chicago Cultural Center’s stately north staircase, the installation is intermittently activated by a local performer who brings to the work their own personal reading, drawing from their individual experiences, body, gender, and color. Through gestures, the piece thus casts an unexpected human light on the historic building.

About the Artist

Jimmy Robert’s practice encompasses performance, photography, film, video, and drawing, frequently collapsing distinctions between these mediums. Using photography as a starting point for his works on paper, Robert blurs the divisions between two and three dimensions, as well as between image and object. This interest in blurred boundaries integrates his performative work—which includes choreographed elements in the context of an exhibition or in relationship to architecture—with his larger practice. In previous works he has explored the politics of spectatorship by reworking seminal avant-garde performances in ways that complicate their racial and gendered readings. Robert’s work has been featured in a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, in commissions by Performa 17 and the Glass House, in performances at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, at the Berlin and Dakar biennials, and in a Satellite presentation organized by the Jeu de Paume, Paris. Born 1975, Saint-Claude, Guadeloupe, France; lives and works in Berlin, Germany

The Chicago Architectural Biennial

The Chicago Architecture Biennial is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to creating an international forum on architecture and urbanism through the production of distinctive exhibitions and public programs. The Biennial creates new opportunities every two years for emerging talent in architecture, design, and the arts to engage a wide public audience.   

Explore how architecture shapes our communities, cities and environment. The third edition of the Biennial, open 19 September 2019 – 5 January 2020, is particularly inspired by Chicago, moving beyond the grand narratives of the city’s architectural heritage to explore the history and conditions that have and continue to shape its urban development. With a broader view on the field of architecture, it embraces practices that span building, design, planning, visual art, policymaking, education, and activism.