Production Site: The Artist’s Studio Inside-Out

Now at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Production Site reexamines the artist’s studio as subject, presenting work that documents, depicts, reconstructs, or otherwise invokes that space, revealing how the studio functions as a place where research, experimentation, production, and social activity intersect.

The exhibition reflects and addresses the pivotal role of the studio in artists’ practice while alluding to its enduring status in the popular imagination. The works that comprise Production Site include multi-channel video projections, photographic light-boxes and installations, and life-sized fabrications of artists’ studios — real and imagined — that either extol the virtues of the studio or problematize the preconceived and often highly romanticized notions associated with it. The exhibition provides the viewer with a look at how some of the most compelling artists of our time have demystified, remystified, and reconsidered this site within the physical and conjectured space of the work of art.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, February 9 and 10, Mumbai-based Nikhil Chopra performed Yog Raj Chitrakar: Memory Drawing XI in the MCA galleries. Chopra brought the artist’s studio into the gallery using a variety of costumes and props, and wall drawings that he created during the performance. These will remain in the gallery as an installation for the duration of the Production Site exhibition. During his performance, Chopra assumed the fictional persona of a Victorian-era figure named Yog Raj Chitrakar, who is based loosely on his grandfather. His last name, Chitrikar, literally translates into picture- or mask-maker in Sanskrit. Chopra inhabited this character for the two days, changing into masculine and feminine costumes that challenge assumptions about race and gender. While performing, Chopra made drawings that reflect on Production Site, blackening the walls with his obsessive charcoal drawings to emphasize the studio as a place where an artist’s internal anxieties and struggles are confronted and resolved.

The exhibition is organized by MCA Curator Dominic Molon, and features the work of Nikhil Chopra, Deb Sokolow, Justin Cooper, Tacita Dean, Amanda Ross-Ho, William Kentridge, Andrea Zittel, Kerry James Marshall, Rodney Graham, Ryan Gander, Bruce Nauman, and John Neff.  Production Site is presented as part of Studio Chicago, a year-long collaborative project that focuses on the artist’s studio through October 2010.