Jan Tichy (Czech, b. 1974) is collaborating with the Museum of Contemporary Photography for a one-year period to create a museum-wide exhibition based on the museum’s collection of more than 12,000 images and objects. The first stage of the project focuses on the public’s online access to the collection and explores the possibilities of digital archiving. Tichy is working with a group of area MA/MFA graduate students to identify and develop strategies for better access to the online collection database. Using tagging applications, website design strategies and interactive elements, Tichy and the students hope that a larger community will find new ways to access and engage with the artworks housed at the MoCP.
As part of the project, the students are curating digital exhibitions of works from the Museum’s collection that will appear in the Museum’s cornerstone windows on Michigan Avenue beginning in September 2012. Additionally, five international mid-career curators are organizing digital exhibitions that will be shown interspersed with the students’ shows. Participating students include: Barbara Diener and Pat Elifritz from Columbia College Chicago, Adam Paradis and Laura Hart Newlon from the School of the Art Institute, and Jennifer Smoose from the University of Chicago. The participating international curators include: Tessa Praun from Magazin 3, Stockholm, Mabel Wilson from Columbia University, New York with Peter Tolkin, Noam Segal, independent curator in Tel Aviv, Karel Cisar, Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague, and Noah Simblist from Southern Methodist University, Texas.
These projects culminate in a Museum-wide installation of Tichy’s work. In the Museum’s two main galleries Tichy will explore the photographic principles of image making. The east gallery will be turned into a darkened chamber infused with light streams and dimly lit photographs from the collection that will evoke the idea of the inner workings of a camera apparatus—the space where light is captured on film or by digital sensors. The west gallery will be a brightly lit space of mostly large images—the camera’s output—and will serve as the introduction to the collection and the exhibition. The two galleries will work in tandem to explore the concepts of exposure and development, interior and exterior, creation and reception. In the third downstairs gallery Tichy will install a light projection piece that condenses the luminosity of all 12,000 objects in the collection into an approximately 10-minute long image stream that waxes and wanes in brightness.
The museum’s upstairs galleries will be filled with collection works and original videos made by Tichy. Photographs in the mezzanine and stairwell spaces will contain works from the collection that the Museum staff considers to be somewhat forgotten, or underutilized, but still significant. The upstairs gallery/print study room will present the museum’s holdings of the Changing Chicago Project, an ambitious documentary project launched in the late 1980s in which 33 photographers captured the day-to-day life and urban fabric of the City of Chicago. Interspersed throughout the still images in the upstairs galleries will be videos made by Tichy that complement, inform, or serve as responses to the photographs in provocative ways.
Jan Tichy works at the intersection of video, sculpture, architecture, sound and photography; many of his works combine these elements. Using video projection as a time-based source of light, Tichy creates physical and psychic spaces in which he explores themes of concealment, obscurity, and the seen and unseen. Tichy’s use of photography in his work, tempered by his strictly formal and minimalist visual language, results in installations in which the narrative is open to interpretation.
This project is generously supported by the David C. & Sarajean Ruttenberg Arts Foundation.