Concrete Happenings: Fall 2016 – Spring 2017
Don't just look at art. Grapple with it.

From fall 2016 to spring 2017, a range of free, interdisciplinary programs across campus will engage both scholarly and general audiences in the rich themes surrounding Concrete Happenings.

Upcoming Programs

Unless noted, all programs are free and open to the public. Additional programs may be announced.

Conservation Conversation
Saturday, April 29, 2017, 2pm
Campus North Parking Garage, The University of Chicago, 5535 South Ellis Avenue, southeast entrance
The conservation of Wolf Vostell’s colossal Concrete Traffic offered intriguing new insights into the life of the sculpture. The process also raised complicated questions about the artist’s intent for the object and the ethical considerations involved in treating it. Join the team of art historians and conservation experts for an informal conversation about the treatments, tools, processes, and many different perspectives that shaped the conservation effort. Participants include: Christine Mehring (Chair and Professor in the Department of Art History and the College at the University of Chicago), Lisa Zaher (Arts Conservation Research Fellow at the University of Chicago), Anna Weiss-Pfau (Campus Art Collection Coordinator & Conservator, The University of Chicago), Stephen Murphy (Curator and Restoration Specialist at Chicago Vintage Motor Carriage), and Amanda Trienens (Principal Conservator, Cultural Heritage Conservation LLC).
Free, but space is limited. Please register in advance.
 
Presented by the University of Chicago's Campus Art Collection, Department of Art History, and Smart Museum of Art.

Symposium: Fluxus | Film
May 5–6, 2017
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 East 60th Street
This symposium will expand the defining attributes of Fluxus film by addressing the problematic role of documentation within Fluxus practices, the documentation of performances as material film objects and the performativity of media, and the politics of presence in Fluxus film and performance. Includes screening of film and video work by Wolf Vostell, Eric Andersen, Nam June Paik, Ludwig Schönherr, Paul Sharits, and Carolee Schneemann, among others. Register here. For more information, including the scheduled panels, please visit https://fluxusandfilm.wordpress.com/.
 
Presented by the Department of Art History, Department of Cinema and Media Studies, and the Film Studies Center. Additional funding and program support has been generously provided by the Goethe-Institut, and the University's Humanities Division, Franke Institute for the Humanities, and the Counter Cinema/Counter Media Project at the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.

Concrete Family Festival
Saturday, May 6, 2017, 1-5pm
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts (915 East 60th Street) and Smart Museum of Art (5550 South Greenwood Avenue)
An afternoon of hands-on family activities related to concrete. Learn how to pour and shape this ancient material with concrete masons from Ozinga, make mini concrete cars, and get up close to a real-life concrete mixing truck.
 
Presented by the Logan Center for the Arts and the Smart Museum of Art. Sponsored by Ozinga Bros., Inc.

Ongoing Programs

Soundscape Interventions
September 30, 2016–June 11, 2017

The University of Chicago campus
A series of musical investigations and interventions will take place throughout the academic year on locations across the University campus. Undergraduate student musicians will interpret and perform Fluxus scores and compositions, embracing elements of chance and exploring the contingencies of aural encounters.
 
Presented by the Department of Music.

Concrete Traffic Documentary Video Installation
October 14, 2016–June 11, 2017
The University of Chicago, Campus North Parking Garage, 5525 South Ellis Avenue
Documentary footage of the making, installation and contemporary re-installation of the sculpture will be screened on a loop on a monitor at the pedestrian entrance to the garage to complement our year-long programs. Situated near the sculpture, these films will provide further context for understanding not only the material history of the sculpture, but also its political ambitions as an event sculpture intended to transform the ordinary experiences of everyday life.
 
Presented by UChicago Arts and the Smart Museum of Art.

Past Programs

Concrete Traffic Procession to the University of Chicago
Friday, September 30, 2016, 12–4pm
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (220 East Chicago Avenue) to Arts Club of Chicago (201 East Ontario Street) to University of Chicago campus
Fluxus artist Wolf Vostell’s concrete-covered Cadillac, Concrete Traffic (1970), returns to the University of Chicago during a public procession that traces the history of the colossal sculpture. The program begins at noon on the plaza outside of the Museum of Contemporary Art, where Concrete Traffic will be joined by a number of classic Cadillacs and cement trucks as a backdrop for a free public discussion with Lynne Warren, MCA Curator, and Christine Mehring, Professor and Chair, Department of Art History at UChicago, who initiated and directed the sculpture's conservation and return. Afterward, the sculpture will travel past its original location on the site of the present-day Arts Club of Chicago, where it will be greeted by a performance inspired by Danger Music Number 17, a score by Fluxus artist Dick Higgins. Finally, Concrete Traffic will make its way past Midway Studios and the Logan Center for the Arts, site of its original location at the University of Chicago, before arriving at its new location on the north side of campus in the vicinity of the Smart Museum of Art.
 
Presented by UChicago Arts in partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Arts Club of Chicago, and the Smart Museum of Art, and is made possible by the generous support of Ozinga Bros., Inc., and the University's Office of Civic Engagement.

Concrete Happenings Arts Lobby
September 30, 2016–March 3, 2017
Exhibition hours: Tuesday through Friday, 10am–4:30pm
Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 South Woodlawn Avenue
Harold Haydon, alumnus, professor, and stained glass artist, whose work adorns Rockefeller Chapel, was a contemporary to Wolf Vostell, and head of Midway Studios, the art center on campus in 1970, when Concrete Traffic arrived at the University. Letters documenting Haydon’s foresight in acknowledging the historical significance of Concrete Traffic, along with the gift arrangement between the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the University will be on view, while documentary footage of the original installation of the sculpture on campus will be exhibited in the lobby to orient chapel visitors to the Concrete Happenings events throughout the campus.
 
Presented by Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

Drive-In Happening
Friday, October 14, 2016, 6–8pm
The University of Chicago, Campus North Parking Garage, 5525 South Ellis Avenue
The University of Chicago opens Concrete Happenings with a Fluxus-inspired screening in the concrete bowels of a parking garage. For one night only, a section of the University's Campus North Parking Garage will be closed to traffic and its parking spots turned into screening spaces for several of artist Wolf Vostell's experimental film and video works related to automobiles. Short looping works like Berlin-Fieber (1973), a happening that involved cars driving and parking in different locations in Berlin, and Ruhender Verkehr (1969), a repeated fragment of a 16mm documentary of the creation of Vostell's first concrete car sculpture, will be projected onto the walls and floors of the garage, between and behind real cars on the ground and lower levels of the partially empty parking structure. The screening, sculpture, and Concrete Happenings initiative will be introduced by Christine Mehring (Professor and Chair, Department of Art History) and Lisa Zaher (UChicago Arts Conservation Research Fellow). The evening also features German food and the public debut of Arcade Brewery's Concrete Traffic, a biting rye beer inspired by Vostell's colossal sculpture.
 
Presented by UChicago Arts and the Smart Museum of Art, with funding support generously provided by the University's Department of Cinema and Media Studies and the Film Studies Center.

Humanities Day
Conserving Public Sculpture: Wolf Vostell's Concrete Traffic
Saturday, October 15, 2016, 3:30pm

The University of Chicago, Campus North Parking Garage, 5525 South Ellis Avenue
As part of the University of Chicago's annual Humanities Day, Christine Mehring (Professor, Art History) and Lisa Zaher (UChicago Arts Conservation Research Fellow) discuss the material challenges and aesthetic decisions that guided the conservation of Wolf Vostell's monumental public sculpture consisting of a 1957 Cadillac covered in concrete. This talk will take place in the presence of the sculpture in its new location, the Campus North Parking Garage.
Space is limited. Advanced registration required at humanitiesday.uchicago.edu.
 
Presented by the Division of the Humanities.

Opening Reception: Retrogarde
Friday, November 11, 2016, 6–8pm 
Logan Center Gallery, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 East 60th Street
Retrogarde 
is an international group exhibition that explores contemporary artists’ recuperation and appropriation of avant-garde strategies, histories, and archives in their work. Conceptually and formally, the works in this exhibition adopt a series of recognizable avant-garde forms—fusing play with the profane; detourning language, space, and matter; and working through performative actions and interventions—to address the politics of everyday life. Taken together these works highlight the continued relevance of avant-garde perspectives today. Yet the artists’ attitude towards this lineage is not one of blind veneration but rather pervasive disobedience, mirroring the transgressive actions of their predecessors. Consequently,Retrogarde infuses other viewpoints, narratives, and contexts to open up our collective reading of avant-garde traditions. Artists in the exhibition include Caroline Bergvall, Samson Kambalu, Matthew Metzger, Catherine Sullivan and Samson Young. Exhibition hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 9am–9pm; Sunday, 11am–9pm.
Curator: Yesomi Umolu, Exhibitions Curator, Logan Center for the Arts.
 
Presented by Logan Center Exhibitions.

Artist Talk with Samson Kambalu and Jennifer Wild
Saturday, November 12, 2016, 2pm
Logan Center Screening Room, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 East 60th Street
A conversation with artist Samson Kambalu and University of Chicago Associate Professor Jennifer Wild (Department of Cinema and Media Studies), moderated by Yesomi Umolu, Logan Center Exhibitions Curator. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Retrogarde, the discussion will address alternative readings of avant-garde art and cinema in Kambalu's and Wild's artistic and scholarly work, respectively.
 
Presented by Logan Center Exhibitions and the Counter Cinema/Counter Media Project at the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.

Symposium: Conserving Industrial Materials and Processes in Art
November 18–19, 2016
The University of Chicago and the Art Institute of Chicago
Experimentation with industrial materials and technology distinguishes many 20th and 21st century avant-garde practices. Concrete Traffic’s combination of industrial materials and technical components reinforces the need for further scientific analysis and information exchange between the fine and applied arts, industry and science, as well as between the professionals who conserve industrial materials and consumer technologies in diverse contexts. A two-day symposium, held in partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago, will facilitate this exchange, bringing together leading practitioners in conservation and collection care for presentations and demonstrations, exploring how a thorough knowledge of industrial materials and processes can inform art historical interpretation. The symposium includes a close-up look at the conservation of various objects by the Hungarian born Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy in the exhibition Moholy-Nagy: Future Present at the Art Institute. Moholy-Nagy stands as a precursor to Vostell in his use of industrial materials, his performative use of media, and experiments with film.
 
Presented by the Department of Art History, the Richard and Mary L. Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, and the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT), in collaboration with the Art Institute of Chicago. Additional support has been generously provided by the Goethe-Institut, and the University of Chicago's Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, Humanities Division, Franke Institute for the Humanities, UChicago Urban, the Department of Germanic Studies, and the Film Studies Center.

Click to view schedule

Lampo Performance with Charles Curtis
Friday, December 9, 2016, 8pm
Logan Center Performance Penthouse, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 East 60th Street
Solo concert by cellist Charles Curtis weaves classical performance with musical experimentation. The program includes Rice and Beans for Charles Curtis, a handmade score created by Fluxus artist Alison Knowles that is composed of wet flax pulp, lentils, rice, and a tangle of strings poured out flat, pressed, and dried.
 
Presented by the Smart Museum of Art and Lampo.

Reading Fluxus Film
Friday, January 20, 2017, 4pm workshop, 5pm screening
BING Art Books, Stony Island Arts Bank, 2nd floor, 6760 S. Stony Island Ave. Chicago, IL 60649
A hands-on workshop on artists' books precedes a screening of word-based films, presented in conjunction with the exhibition Concrete Poetry, Concrete Book at the Special Collections Research Center, curated by Caroline Schopp, UChicago Ph.D. candidate in Art History. A panel discussion will follow the screening, introduced by media art historian Bruce Jenkins (SAIC) and including Jenkins, Schopp, Lisa Zaher (UChicago Arts Conservation Research Fellow and Ph.D., Art History), and Fluxus film scholar Jacob Proctor (Curator, Neubauer Collegium). Like the Fluxus books and kits on view in the exhibition and workshop—books that seek to enhance our awareness of human consciousness through hands-on, multi-sensory encounters—these word-based films explore the correspondences between material properties of film, perceptual acts of film viewing, and cognitive acts of reading. Our discussion will consider the political effectiveness of Fluxus practices towards acts of political resistance. Organized by Caroline Schopp and Lisa Zaher.
 
Presented by UChicago Arts, the Department of Art History, and Black Cinema House, with additional support provided by the Department of Cinema and Media Studies and the Film Studies Center.

Instructions for a Chicago Fluxus Opening
Sunday, January 22, 2017, 3–6pm
Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society (5701 South Woodlawn Avenue), Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library (1100 East 57th Street), Smart Museum of Art (5550 South Greenwood Avenue)
A set of "instructions"—inspired by participatory Happenings orchestrated by Fluxus artist Wolf Vostell—will guide you across the University of Chicago campus during this opening celebration for three related exhibitions: Fantastic Architecture (Neubauer Collegium), Concrete Poetry, Concrete Book (Special Collections Research Center), and Vostell Concrete (Smart Museum). Enjoy a variety of free programs, food, and drinks at the three locations. A free shuttle will run between locations.
Free, open to all. Drop by or RSVP on Facebook.
 
Presented by the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, Special Collections Research Center, and Smart Museum of Art. The exhibitions and related programming have been made possible in part by the generous support of the Pamela and R. Christopher Hoehn-Saric Exhibition Fund, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Swiss Benevolent Society, the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, SmartPartners, and Ozinga Bros., Inc.

Gallery Talk: Rafael Vostell and Hannah Higgins
Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 12pm
Smart Museum of Art, 5550 South Greenwood Avenue
In-gallery conversation with Rafael Vostell (Managing director of the Wolf Vostell Estate) and Hannah Higgins (Professor of Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago) addresses questions of materiality and ephemerality on display in the Smart Museum’s special exhibition Vostell Concrete as well as the ways that Vostell and his Fluxus contemporaries shaped future practices.
Free, but space is limited. Please register in advance.
 
Presented by the Smart Museum of Art.

Frames of Resistance: Vostell and Friends in 16mm
Friday, February 3, 2017, 7pm
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts Screening Room, 915 East 60th Street
This screening event will feature 16mm films by Wolf Vostell and other Fluxus filmmakers. Frames of Resistance explores these artists’ use of film as political interventions into the built environment and the media landscape. The selection of films to be screened by Vostell were proposed by the artist to be shown during his visit to the MCA in January 1970 when he supervised the production of Concrete Traffic—including Sun in Your Head (1963) and Starfighter (1967).
 
Presented by UChicago Arts, the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, the Department of Cinema and Media Studies, and the Film Studies Center.

Concrete Poetry Workshop
Thursday, February 9, 2017, 5:30–7:30pm
Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood Avenue
Thursday, February 16, 2017, 6–8pm
Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street
This two-part program investigates works of konkrete poesie (concrete poetry) through exhibition tours, a concrete-making activity, and a writing workshop. It highlights works by artists and writers in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland in the 1960s and 1970s who tested the material display of language, focusing on the object-quality of letters and words. Part I features tours of the complementary exhibitions Vostell Concrete, 1969–1974 (at the Smart Museum of Art) and Concrete Poetry, Concrete Book: Artists’ Books in German-speaking Space after 1945 (at the University of Chicago Library's Special Collections Research Center). Following the tour, participants will create poured concrete tablets. Part II begins with an exploration of poets in the Poetry Foundation library who investigated the material and technical forms of the book and the written word. Then, participants will write (and build) concrete poems.
 
Presented by the Smart Museum of Art and the Poetry Foundation.

Quire & Place Concert: Sound and Silence
Saturday, February 18, 2017, 7:30pm
Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 South Woodlawn Ave
As part of the sixth season of acclaimed professional choral series Quire & Place, the Rockefeller Chapel Choir, Decani, and campus collaborators present acoustically-provocative 20th century compositions from the contrasting streams of Fluxus and choral mysticism. Featured works include Arvo Pärt’s Sarah Was Ninety Years Old and the Alfred Schnittke Requiem.
 
Presented by Rockefeller Memorial Chapel.

Curator Tour: Vostell Concrete
Sunday, April 2, 2017, 2pm
Smart Museum of Art, 5550 South Greenwood Avenue
From sculpture to film, performance, collage, watercolor, and printmaking, Wolf Vostell employed concrete in a number of exciting, challenging, and unexpected ways. Join exhibition curators Christine Mehring and Diane Miliotes as we explore the equally expressive and ambiguous connotations of this material in the Smart Museum’s special exhibition Vostell Concrete.
Free, but space is limited. Please register in advance.
 
Presented by the Smart Museum of Art.

Gallery

Video

Concrete Traffic's Procession to the University of Chicago
Concrete Happenings