Faculty member Lori Waxman argues Chicago needs a global art exhibition, not another art fair.
Faculty member Lori Waxman argues Chicago needs a global art exhibition, not another art fair.
November 30

Art Fair Apathy in Chicago

On November 15 the Chicago Tribune published “Global art exhibition could paint city differently” by art critic and SAIC Professor Lori Waxman (New Arts Journalism). Noting the city’s two major contemporary art fairs, Expo Chicago and the MDW Fair, Waxman argues that Chicago needs to do more to become a global art center. Art fairs have become ubiquitous, she explains, and although Expo Chicago “did almost everything right for a high-end commercial art fair,” it is still arguably indistinguishable from those that have popped up all over the country. “What Chicago needs, if it is truly serious about becoming a not-to-miss world art destination, is a large-scale, citywide exhibition of the most challenging international contemporary art, held every few years,” she says. “Not a biennial or even a triennial—they're too frequent, too exhausting—nor something overly identified with a single institution.” Waxman highlights events like Documenta, which takes place in Kassel every five years, and Sculpture Projects Muenster, which occurs once every decade. In addition to drawing viewers near and far, she argues, “these ambitious happenings bend minds and change landscapes. They bring entire cultures back from the dead, as Documenta did for Germany in 1955, pushing past the curse of Nazism to rejoin the world of modern art.”