Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

MCA Chicago


Institutionalized was a project conceived for the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago's winter artist in residency wherein Michael Genovese set up a studio in the museum for a 6 week program. The work included engaging the museum visitors and staff through language and text where different mediums combined with studio work reflected the voices of the public during a time of "Change." Participatory works involved translating American literature, automatic writing samples and social commentary into foreign languages that allowed for the interpretations to change and morph. The results were made into text based paintings, collaborative drawings on aluminum composite panels, and performances of solicitation. Other works included a push cart designed to provide museum visitors and staff with free fresh fruit and water.


MCA visitors participating by carving into aluminum panels.


Incised aluminum composite panels with baked enamel finish. Drawings and general commentary made in collaboration with MCA visitors and staff.


(Fig.1) "All my skin folk ain't all my kin folk"-Zora Neale Hurston, (Fig.2) "All my skin folk ain't all my kin folk"-Zora Neal Hurston translated by museum visitors into Korean and Urdu, (Fig.3) "We all we got", translated by museum visitors and staff into Spanish, French, Hebrew, Polish, German, and Korean. Sign paint on day-glo butcher paper and MDF with fluorescent lighting fixtures, 96 X 144 inches (2008)

Translations from the MCA community are incorporated into “All my skin folk ain’t all my kin folk," (titled after a quote from Zora Neale Hurston) as an ongoing painting pairing languages from a root source, often beginning with an American English dialect. The work begins to take shape as the voices and languages of the public are transformed into stylized signs. The various dialects paired with one another creates subject matter that is common, though expressed differently. My intent is to bridge cultures through written language and examine the tension between them.


(Fig.1) Frutas and Piraguas push cart detail, (Fig.2) Frutas and Piraguas push cart and "We all we got" translated into French on butcher paper, (Fig.3) Studio view (Fig.4) Suffocate, Letter pressed leather belts, lighting fixture and plastic bag.