CHICAGO, IL.- Logan Center Exhibitions presents a selection of newly commissioned work by Kapwani Kiwanga in her first solo exhibition in the United States: Kapwani Kiwanga: The sum and its parts, on view at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, January 20March 12, 2017. The exhibition features a site-specific installation, video, and prints that draw on the artists research into the design of institutional spaces, including materials found in the University of Chicagos Special Collections Library.
Across the elements of Kapwani Kiwanga: The sum and its parts, Kiwanga deconstructs the physical and psychological qualities of different built environments including schools, prisons, hospitals, and mental health facilities. In the main gallery, Kiwanga brings together architectural elements from historical and contemporary versions of these spaces including wall sections, lighting fixtures, and surface treatments creating a spatial collage that escapes the sum of its fragments. For these works, Kiwanga has drawn from her extensive research into disciplinary architectures throughout time, extracting specific details from the designs of late 19th century workhouses and reformatory schools in Britain and France respectively.
Kiwangas installation transforms the Logan Center Gallery into an experiential space that is guided by the artists astute architectural interventions, said Yesomi Umolu, Exhibitions Curator at the Reva and David Logan Center, and curator of the exhibition, With this, Kiwanga underscores the built environments function as a mechanism for regulating human behavior. This allows visitors to consider the mental and physical effects of the various spaces that they occupy daily.
A distinctive feature of the exhibition is the artists transposition of two-tone color palettes, often used in the interiors of institutional spaces, onto the gallery walls. Social hygiene movements and hospital reforms at the turn of the 20th century inform the artists selection of colors as well as the work of Chicago-born color consultant and color theorist Faber Birren. A student in the College at UChicago in the early 1920s, Birren later established a consulting company, advising on the use of color in industry and the workplace. Drawing from color design studies by Faber Birren and Company held at the University of Chicagos Special Collections Library, Kiwanga thereby recalls the application of color theory to the conditions of work, learning, surveillance, healing, and care. Also on view is a selection of prints that reproduce images from Birrens archive and a new film A primer that delves deeper into the spatial histories of different building typologies.
Born in Hamilton, Canada and based in Paris, Kiwanga produces works across installation, performance, and video that marry her training in anthropology and comparative religions with her interests in history, memory, and mythology. Presenting rigorous research in imaginative ways, Kiwanga intentionally confuses truth and fiction in her work in order to enable fantastical narratives.
Kapwani Kiwanga (b. 1978) studied Anthropology and Comparative Religions at McGill University, Canada. Kiwanga was the 2016 Commissioned Artist at the Armory Show, New York and recently presented her work in solo exhibitions at The Powerplant, Toronto; La Ferme de Buisson, Noisiel; South London Gallery, London; and the Jeu de Paume, Paris. Recent group exhibitions include EVA biennial, Limerick; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; SALT, Istanbul; and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y Léon. She has been artist-inresidence at LEcole National Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris; Le Fresnoy: National Contemporary Art Studio, Tourcoing; MU Foundation, Eindhoven; and Le Manège, Dakar. Kiwanga lives and works in Paris, and she is represented by Galerie Poggi, Paris and Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin.