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A Lion For Every House: Interrogating How Art Exists In Space

Written by on October 3, 2022

Organized by the Floating Museum and presented at the Art Institute of Chicago through October 17, A Lion For Every House takes work from the confines of the Institute’s collection and into host’s homes.

Photo courtesy Art Institute of Chicago / Floating Museum

Earlier this year, the Art Institute collaborated with the Chicago art collective Floating Museum (co-directed by Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford, Faheem Majeed, Andrew Schachman and avery r. young) to convene 10 photographers (including Sulyiman Stokes, Nicole Harrison and Tonika Johnson) and 10 hosts (including Serge JC Pierre-Louis, Maria & Roman Villarreal and Levette Haynes) in a series of Zoom conversations with the goal of temporarily placing photographs from the Institute’s collection into spaces that the hosts identified as their respective homes. New photographs were taken of the hosts and their selected work, then iterative sculptural installations were created that were inspired by the entire process.

The resulting exhibition, which runs through October 17 at the Art Institute, interrogates the value of making work accessible to all, as while upending ideas of proper display and exhibition.

Photo courtesy Art Institute of Chicago / Floating Museum

This month, the Chicago Architecture Biennial announced the Floating Museum Collective as Artistic Directors of CAB 5 (scheduled for Autumn 2023), and the group has spearheaded a number of interventions colliding art with unconventional spaces, perhaps most famously converting a barge into a performance and exhibition space in 2017. Additionally, co-director member Faheem Majeed has a long history of rethinking the utility of accessible, unassuming spaces for art exhibition. Besides the ongoing Floating Museum collaborations, his other work includes Shacks and Shanties, a Bronzeville-based, site-specific temporary project from 2013.

As a part of the project, the artist installed shacks in vacant lots that were then activated by locally-based artists.  I attended one such installation/performance, titled “Ghana Must Go” after the infamous plaid patterned tote bags that are so prevalent in West Africa. At the time, I talked to Faheem Majeed as well as Abbéy Odunlami, the artist behind “Ghana Must Go.” 

RELATED: For Faheem Majeed, Chicago Is His Blank Canvas

The title A Lion For Every House both references a Sonia Sanchez poem, titled (Does Your House Have Lions), as well as the Art Institute’s iconic lion sculptures. According to the Floating Museum’s website: “The Art Institute’s lion statues are beloved by many as icons welcoming them to a place that feels like a second home, but to others they represent gatekeepers who silently exclude.”

Written By Ayana Contreras

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