Floating Museum tapped as artistic team for This is a Rehearsal, the fifth edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial

Front of the CAB

Floating Museum tapped as artistic team for This is a Rehearsal, the fifth edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial

Floating Museum (Steve Metzer/Courtesy CAB)

Chicago-based art collective Floating Museum has been announced as artistic team that will lead the forthcoming fifth edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB), entitled This is a Rehearsal. With Floating Museum jointly stepping into the (plus-sized) artistic director shoes, CAB 5 is slated to kick off in September 2023 and will build on and expand the collective’s ongoing work, including “site-responsive art and design projects and public programs, to explore divergent interpretations of infrastructure, history, and the role of aesthetics as a mode for expanding how we frame the relationship between our environments and ourselves,” a press announcement detailed.

“Floating Museum is organized to work at the intersection of disciplines, where civic participation inspires and shapes our process. It’s both a thrill and challenge to collaborate with the CAB as the artistic team of the 2023 edition,” said the members of Floating Museum in reaction to the artistic directorship announcement. “We view this as a tremendous chance to coordinate exchanges between Chicago networks and practitioners around the world. We see this as a platform where work happening in Chicago can inform work happening elsewhere, and reciprocally, where work happening around the world can inspire work happening here.”

an art installation depicting a group of assembled people
Monument ReAssembly, 2020, by Floating Museum (Nathan Keay)

Floating Museum, a recent awardee of a 2022 Graham Foundation organization grant for its exhibition Floating Monuments: Mecca Flats, is co-directed by Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford, Faheem Majeed, Andrew Schachman, and avery r. young. Previously, David Brown served as artistic director of The Available City, the fourth iteration of CAB held in 2021. (You can read AN ’s dispatch from The Available City here.)

As elaborated by CAB, This is a Rehearsal will survey the ways in which “contemporary environmental, political, and economic issues are shared across national boundaries but are addressed differently around the world through art, architecture, infrastructure, and civic participation.” Like with past editions of CAB, the biennial proper will be preceded with a slate of virtual and in-person programming including community events, youth workshops, talks, and more. The first-ever Chicago Design Summit will kick things off this November. The event that will act as a “catalyst for collaboration and partnership” while serving as a “platform for participants to share and respond to ideas related to This is a Rehearsal,” CAB explained. The summit has received initial support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Graham Foundation.

Coinciding with the lead-up events in the coming months, CAB will also announce This is a Rehearsal’s globe-spanning lineup of commissioned artists, designers, and architects along with partner organizations, and more. As noted by CAB, the 2023 edition will once again use the Chicago Cultural Center as its home base but, like The Available City, will also fan out to different sites across the city. The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events will return as the event’s official presenting partner.

a monument blow-up installation of two heads
Founders, 2020, by Floating Museum (Eric Perez)

Praised by CAB board chairman Jack Guthman for its “always imaginative response to issues of the moment,” Floating Museum has realized a range of provocative projects—inflatable sculptures among them—across the city including Founder (2017), a monumental Styrofoam likeness of Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable created as part of the larger River Assembly project; How to Give Life to a Mountain, a 2016 installation staged at the DuSable Museum of African American History; a Lion For Every House, an ongoing exhibition at the Chicago Institute of Art that closes on October 22; and the Floating Monuments Series.

“Under the direction of the artistic team, which has already undertaken ambitious projects to creatively support and promote our city, the 2023 Chicago Architecture Biennial will bring innovative ideas and projects to life, as well as spark important dialogue here in Chicago,” said Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a statement.

AN will continue to cover announcements and updates related to CAB 5 as they become available.