CAC to highlight Swing House, Swoon in 2017-18

The Contemporary Arts Center announced its upcoming season today, and it includes everything from Cincinnati-based artist Mark deJong’s architectural artwork to a major retrospective of street artist Swoon.

click to enlarge Mark deJong’s Swing House will be the subject of a 2018 exhibit. - Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Photo: Hailey Bollinger
Mark deJong’s Swing House will be the subject of a 2018 exhibit.
Can a new Cincinnati architectural artwork be recognized as a masterpiece before it’s even finished — and before all but a lucky few have even seen it?

The Contemporary Arts Center believes so, which is why one exhibit planned for its 2017-18 season is highlighting the Cincinnati-based artist Mark deJong’s Swing House. 

Scheduled to open this year for “adventurous renters,” as the CAC phrases it in its announcement of the upcoming season, Swing House is an older three-story building in Camp Washington in which deJong has removed interior floors and walls to accommodate one sole swing that can soar from end to end.

The deJong exhibit, from April 20-May 20, 2018, will feature the home’s three-flight staircase that has been repurposed as a sculpture, other objects made from salvaged materials and video work. The CAC also will organize artist-led tours of the site.

“To me, it’s changed the landscape of what art and architecture are in Cincinnati,” says Steven Matijcio, CAC curator. “I’ve not seen a project like this since I’ve been here. I think it’s a major piece that can stand on its own in a national spectrum. I wanted to give it that platform.” 

In terms of architectural intervention, Matijcio believes Swing House can stand with the works of Gordon Matta-Clark.

At the same time as deJong’s work is presented, Matijcio has also curated a show by the Minnesota-based artist Chris Lawson, who uses “surreal carpentry” to transform built environments into something, well, off-the-wall. The exhibition features four of his video works, plus prints and drawings. 

Other Exhibits Planned for 2017-18:

Swoon: 2002-2017 (tentative title) is set for Sept. 22, 2017-Feb. 25, 2018. As reported by Maria Seda-Reeder in last week’s CityBeat, the CAC is kicking off the new season with a major retrospective of the work of the internationally recognized street artist Swoon, whose actual name is Caledonia Curry. Her work often has a strong social justice element.

“The September show is obviously the one with the greatest visibility and we’ve had that history of showcasing so-called ‘street artists’ within the institution — Shepard Fairey, JR, Beautiful Losers,” Matijcio says. “But also that history sort of perpetuated the boys club of street art. We wanted to continue that legacy and lineage, but also to showcase the preeminent female street artist of our time. So we chose to work with Swoon and really look back on the past 15 years of her career.”

Glenn Kaino, a Los Angeles-based Japanese-American artist, will have a mid-career survey show, curated by Matijcio, Nov. 17, 2017-April 22, 2018. The CAC considers his artistic approach to be “chameleon-esque” in that he combines sculpture, performance, video and other often-collaborative artistic efforts into an overall approach he terms “kit-bashing.” 

From May 18-Aug. 26, 2018, separate shows will feature two female artists: Firelei Báez, a Brooklyn-based, Caribbean-born artist who explores Afro-Latina identity through her paintings, sculptures and works on paper, and Columbus-based interdisciplinary artist Alison Crocetta

“Firelei’s work is very colorful, saturated and kind of visceral,” Matijcio says, explaining the show will feature new work. 

Crocetta will be presenting A Circus of One at the CAC. The centerpiece of the exhibit, which Matijcio is curating, will be performances of the 30-minute A Circus of One (Act II), which occurs within a 20-foot-wide ring and features her interactions with a shape-shifting wooden horse as music by Saintseneca’s Zac Little plays.

Kader Attia, an Algerian-French artist whose projects revolve around the notion of “repair,” will have a show from June 8-Sept. 9, 2018. The CAC is presenting Attia’s work in partnership with Toronto’s Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, and the artist is preparing an installation that approaches “repair” in a Canadian/North American context. As he interprets the concept, repair is not a seamless return to the original state. 

The CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER is located at 44 E. Sixth St., Downtown. More info:

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