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MCA Chicago announces Chicago Performs, which focuses on contemporary, POC and queer artists
-- From a press release

This article shared 1351 times since Wed Jul 27, 2022
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CHICAGO— The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago, with the support of Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), and Choose Chicago, announced the first-ever Chicago Performs showcase—an intimate festival of live arts highlighting essential local artists whose work is being embraced by national audiences.

Taking place at the MCA on Sept. 15-16, this year's live performances showcase the work being made by contemporary Chicago artists, including artists Derek McPhatter, Erin Kilmurray and Bimbola Akinbola. Each artist will share a new work—in some cases for the first time publicly—including pieces developed through the MCA's ongoing In Progress series and the New Works Initiative, the museum's comprehensive, newly restructured set of programs to fund and support the development of new performances, fostering connection between artists, audiences, and communities in Chicago through creative process.

"The MCA is proud to use our platform to highlight the local artists and creativity that is coming out of Chicago," said Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director of the MCA. "Events like this invite diverse audiences into an open space to experience and discuss contemporary work being created in our city."

"Chicago is home to a wonderful variety of innovative and talented artists whose voices are part of the national conversation," said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "This Chicago Performs initiative celebrates and recognizes this wealth of creativity in our city while creating more spaces for residents to come together and experience art in our hometown."

The series also focuses on artists of color and queer artists from a range of Chicago neighborhoods, including, Bronzeville, Rogers Park and Avondale. Through this program, each artist receives comprehensive production support, compensation for their creative teams, curatorial advising, and strategic opportunities to connect with national performance presenters. For example, artist Derek McPhatter was a recipient of the New Works Initiative Chicago Commission in 2021 and has received additional year-long funding to support his professional development and connection with the national performance field.

Part showcase and part celebration of performance and the city's artists, the schedule includes ticketed and free performances in the museum's theater and public spaces, as well as programming and informal gatherings to meet the artists. Framing this busy schedule of performances, the artists will come together for a conversation around joy and resilience moderated by Sixty Inches From Center co-founder Tempestt Hazel. Audiences can purchase affordable ticket packages to encourage support for Chicago artists and access for audiences of all kinds.

Tickets will be available Wed., July 27, at 11 a.m. CT

Chicago Performs 2022: Performance Schedule

Thursday, September 15, 2—3 pm and 7:30—8:30 pm

Erin Kilmurray, the Function

Edlis Neeson Theater

In the Function, a small group of dancers vigorously cross-train and tag-team using stage craft, movement, and music to explore agency, authorship, grief, and pleasure through the creation and operation of shared visions and space. The piece recalls future nostalgias and builds feminist utopias, practicing and strategizing the labor of creating and destroying worlds both real and imagined.

To purchase tickets visit or call 312-397-4010.

Friday, September 16, 10 am—5 pm

Bimbola Akinbola, You Gotta Know It: a durational moving meditation on (Black) collectivity, labor, and joy

MCA Commons

In You Gotta Know It: a durational moving meditation on (Black) collectivity, labor, and joy, performers dance the popular line dance, the Electric Slide, in the MCA Commons for the entire seven-hour period of the museum's open hours. Attendees are invited to reflect on the parallels between the labor of dancing and the duration of the workday, joining the performance for as long as they wish.

Performance included with museum admission.

Friday, September 16, 7:30—8:30 pm

Derek McPhatter, Water Riot in Beta

Edlis Neeson Theater

WATER RIOT IN BETA is a music- theater work that follows a troupe of water rights activists inspired by social movements across history as they stage a protest in an apocalyptic future Chicago in which water is scarce and technology rules. It is informed by the under-told legacy of Black voices in music and brings audiences on a journey grounded in contemporary conversations on climate anxiety and ecological change in the Midwest.

To purchase tickets visit or call 312-397-4010.

Chicago Performs 2022 — Program Schedule

Thursday, September 16, 6—7 pm

Talk: Chicago Performs Artists in Conversation with Tempestt Hazel

MCA Commons

Joy as a Question brings together moderator Tempestt Hazel to lead a conversation among the three artists from the MCA's new annual Chicago Performs series. While the artists' practices are diverse, each of this year's works by Akinbola Bimbola, Erin Kilmurray, and Derek McPhatter address "joy"…not just joy as a simple emotion, but joy as a strategy for thriving in the face of all the complexities of our current moment.

Program included with museum admission.

About the Artists

Derek McPhatter is a theater-maker committed to engaging diverse communities, emphasizing narratives at the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, and technology.

Erin Kilmurray is a genre-straddling artist drawing on the space-making possibilities of nightlife culture, theater, and dance through electric, often political performance.

Bimbola Akinbola is an artist and scholar concerned with the nature of belonging and queerness, using theory, performance, and visual art to organize, remember, and repair.

About the Speakers

Tempestt Hazel is a curator, writer, and co-founder/co-director of Sixty Inches From Center, a Chicago-based arts publication and archiving initiative that has promoted and preserved the practices of artists across the Midwest since 2010.

Chicago Performs is organized by Tara Aisha Willis, Curator, Performance and Public Practice, and Laura Paige Kyber, Curatorial Assistant in Performance and Public Practice. Joy as a Question is organized by Willis and Daniel Atkinson, Manager of Learning, Adult Interpretive Programs.

Major support for the 2022-2023 MCA performance season is provided by the Alphawood Foundation and by Julie and Larry Bernstein.

Generous support is provided by Lois and Steve Eisen and The Eisen Family Foundation; Ginger Farley and Bob Shapiro, Martha Struthers Farley and Donald C. Farley, Jr. Family Foundation; N.A., Trustee; Susan Manning and Doug Doetsch; D. Elizabeth Price and Lou Yecies; Carol Prins and John Hart/The Jessica Fund; and Anonymous.

The MCA is a proud member of the Museums in the Park and receives major support from the Chicago Park District.


The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The museum is generously supported by its Board of Trustees; individual and corporate members; private and corporate foundations, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and government agencies. Museum capital improvements are supported by a Public Museum Capital Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The MCA is a proud member of Museums in the Park and receives major support from the Chicago Park District. The MCA is located at 220 E. Chicago Avenue, one block east of Michigan Avenue. The museum and sculpture garden are open on Tuesday and Friday from 10 am to 9 pm, and Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. The museum is closed on Mondays. Tuesdays are Community Free Days with free admission for Illinois residents. The museum has a suggested general admission of $15 for adults and $8 for seniors. Admission is free for all youth 18 and under, members of the military and veterans, and MCA members. Information about MCA exhibitions, programs, and special events is available on the MCA website at or by phone at 312.280.2660.

For more information about the MCA's New Works Initiative, visit

This article shared 1351 times since Wed Jul 27, 2022
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