This is documentation of a single day performance piece undertaken to promote a larger conceptual art project: “Project Job Creation.” The idea to wear my art into art museums was born years ago – “If getting my working into a national museum is so important to me,” I once thought, “why not just strap my art onto my back and wear it into the museum?”
The world is filled with artists trying to get recognized. I am one of those artists. On November 20th I wore my art into Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art and Chicago’s Art Institute during a single day. I got recognized.
I had only a single aluminum piece in my studio, so it’s what I wore. It’s called study of frank’s eaves #1 – a 35mm photographic tessellation born of the great southern prow on Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bradley House in Kankakee, Illinois – unintentionally art-deco.
We drove to Chicago and parked in the garage attached to the Museum of Contemporary Art.
I rounded the corner and got to Martin Creed’s piece, “Work No. 1357, MOTHERS.” At this moment, I was thinking, “Are they going to let me into the museum wearing my art?” I had done my research – I’m quite sure I’m the first person to attempt such a feat – to wear my art into not one – but two – major museums in a single day and document the process. Would I succeed?
I got into the Museum of Contemporary Art!
Our plan was to have a second interaction with Chicago’s Art Institute. But since we were so close to Michigan Avenue, we decided to pay the Magnificent Mile a visit.
Did I feel ridiculous? No. Before getting back to the parking garage and heading to Grant Park, I wrote a letter to the Museum of Contemporary Art, letting them know that it was me, Christopher Shoup, who wore my art into their museum on this day. Apparently, they didn’t like my performance – they’ve never acknowledged my performance!
We drove to Grant Park and found street parking. We decided to explore and interact with the park grounds prior to heading into the Art Institute. I was famous for minute! Girls swarmed the strange artist wearing an aluminum panel on his back, wanting his autograph!
Outside the Art Institute, something even more absurd than me happened!
Two people thought I was a performance artist hired by the museum – they came up to my art and started to talk – in fact, they carried on a detailed conversation about my piece without even once talking to me, the artist attached to his work!
I got into the modern wing at the Art Institute!
As Amanda was photographing me, a crowd of people surrounded me, wanting to know about my art and my project. It was a very interactive moment!
Ultimately I was unable to get past the Art Institute entrance keepers, so I checked my art into the art museum for $1.00.
Amanda and I each have a few favorites in the modern wing. As I walked around, I created a few pieces with the flyers I held in my cargo pocket (Replacing Klee, Replacing Mondrian).
Finally I exited the third floor galleries. I found myself alone with a Henry Moore bronze. I sat on a bench nearby. I had one final idea – I would create and leave an installation with my flyers, using 49, to symbolize the 49 tessellations I was promoting for “Project Job Creation.”
It was a fantastic day! We owed our success to this Sol LeWitt quote, which guided us throughout our interactions:
“In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.”
The day ended with me retrieving my art and entering the world again…