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Chicago Performs: September 26–29, 2024

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Experience one weekend of groundbreaking performances by Chicago artists.

Chicago Performs returns to the MCA for its third year with a four-day festival of dynamic, electrifying performances by artists Lin Hixon and Matthew Goulish, Lykanthea, and cat mahari. Taking place within and outside of the museum’s walls, this annual festival of performance puts the wealth of revelatory live arts made by the Chicago creative community front and center, inviting a small cohort of local artists to share new performance works, including those developed through the MCA’s In Progress series and New Works Initiative.

Chicago Performs supports artists who are entering a new phase of their practice—whether stepping onto a larger stage for the first time, exploring new directions, or expanding the scale of their projects—and offers the public an unprecedented chance to witness the city’s groundbreaking performance artists in action.

Chicago Performs is organized by Laura Paige Kyber, Assistant Curator of Performance.

About the Performances

Lykanthea, Some Viscera

Some Viscera is a collection of song and movement accompanied by immersive stage design that explores childhood, kinship, and memory in the contemporary Indian-American diaspora.

Please note: Masks must be worn for this performance and live plants are present on stage.

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Every house has a door and Essi Kausalainen, Broken Aquarium

Broken Aquarium presents the intricacies and particulars of non-human life as a foundation for human transformation.

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cat mahari, blk ark: the impossible manifestation

blk ark: the impossible manifestation explores what it will take to find freedom and map the road ahead for our collective futures.

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About the Artists


Lykanthea is the project of multidisciplinary artist Lakshmi Ramgopal. Experimenting with traditional South Asian art forms, she creates performances and installations in spaces that range from museum galleries to botanical conservatories to the middle of a freshwater stream. Her 2014 EP Migration put her on the map among experimental and pop music fans for her alchemical use of synths, catchy melodies, and Carnatic improvisatory techniques. Her work has been commissioned by Krannert Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Experimental Sound Studio, and Edgar Miller Legacy.

Every house has a door

Lin Hixson, director, and Matthew Goulish, dramaturg, formed Every house has a door in 2008 to convene diverse, intergenerational project-specific teams of specialists, including emerging as well as internationally recognized artists. Drawn to historically or critically neglected subjects, Every house creates performance works and performance-related projects in many media. Based in Chicago, the company presents work for local, national, and international audiences.

Essi Kausalainen

Essi Kausalainen’s works operate through performance, textile, text, audio and video. Collaborating with plants and fungi, artists, musicians, plant biologists and children, Kausalainen’s work approaches the body as an open-ended process made in, and shaped by, the complex relations with other beings, situations and environments. Her work has been exhibited and performed in venues such as Kiasma, HAM, Inkonst (Malmö), Somerset House Studios in London, Bildmuseet (Umeå) and Moderna Museet Malmö.

cat mahari

cat mahari‘s practice is built from a richly layered body history, stemming from an archive of research, physical training, and intent to manifest an intellectual, material, and informal legacy of Black liberation through documentation. By examining personal marks and socio-genealogical maps, she explores inner and outer environments. She is a 2023 MAP Fund microgrant recipient, and a 2022 Foundation for the Arts Emergency grantee for blk ark: the impossible manifestation. Her upcoming works include the film, Sugar in the Raw, a surrealist-inspired exploration of Black intimacy, trust, and touch via Chicago house dance and stepping. In 2021, she was named the City of Chicago Esteemed Artist Awardee in Dance and received a 2021 3Arts Award in dance. mahari holds a BFA in dance from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, and an MA in performance, practice, and research from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama at the University of London.


Chicago Performs is supported by The New Works Initiative, which puts the creative process at the heart of the MCA’s relationship with Chicago by supporting the development of new performances and creative projects. Lead support for the New Works Initiative is provided by Elizabeth A. Liebman.

Lead support for the 2023-24 season of MCA Performance and Public Programs is provided by Elizabeth A. Liebman.

Generous support is provided by Ginger Farley and Bob Shapiro, Martha Struthers Farley and Donald C. Farley, Jr. Family Foundation, N.A., Trustee; Susan Manning and Doug Doetsch; and Carol Prins and John Hart/The Jessica Fund.

Additional generous support is provided by Diane Kahan and Anne L. Kaplan.

The MCA is a proud member of the Museums in the Park and receives major support from the Chicago Park District.