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Chicago Performs 2022

Talk | Joy as a Question

September 15, 20226:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Bimbola Akinbola. Photo: zaikkiyyah najeebah dumas o’neal.

About the Event

Hear from artists participating in Chicago Performs, the MCA’s annual weekend of groundbreaking new performances by Chicago artists. Each year, three artists share new works of performance, including pieces developed through MCA’s In Progress series and the New Works Initiative Chicago Commission. Chicago Performs is organized by Tara Aisha Willis, Curator, Performance and Public Practice, and Laura Paige Kyber, Curatorial Assistant in Performance and Public Practice.

MCA Talks highlight cutting-edge thinking and contemporary art practices across disciplines. Joy as a Question is organized by Willis and Daniel Atkinson, Manager of Learning, Adult Interpretive Programs. 

About the Artists

Portrait of Bimbola Akinbola. Photo: Jansen Bridge.

Bimbola Akinbola is an interdisciplinary artist and scholar based in Chicago. Working at the intersection of theory, performance, and visual art, her scholarly and artistic work is concerned with the complicated and nagging nature of belonging, queerness, and the concept of family. Incorporating a variety of practices ranging from drawing and painting to rubbing her make-up stained skin across surfaces, her work explores mark-making and performance as modes of organization, remembrance, and repair. Bimbola has a BA in American Studies and Studio Art from Macalester College, and a PhD in American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is an Assistant Professor of Performance Studies at Northwestern University.

Tempestt Hazel. Image courtesy of Tempestt Hazel.

Tempestt Hazelis a curator, writer, and cofounder/codirector of Sixty Inches From Center, a Chicago-based collective of writers, artists, curators, librarians, and archivists who have published and produced collaborative projects about artists, archival practice, and culture in the Midwest since 2010. Through her work at Sixty Inches From Center, Field Foundation, and collaborations across Chicago and the Midwest, Tempestt has worked alongside artists, organizers, grantmakers, and cultural workers to explore solidarity economies, cooperative models, archival practice, and systems change in and through the arts. You can see more of her editorial, curatorial, and other projects on her website.

Erin Kilmurray. Photo: Jansen Bridge.

Erin Kilmurray is a genre-straddling artist drawing on space-making practices found in nightlife culture, theater, and dance. Her work challenges the traditional relationships between performer and spectator through electric, often political performance that enlivens body and environment. Her work has been presented by The Dance Center of Columbia College, Links Hall, Thalia Hall, Pivot Arts Festival, and DanceBox in Kobe, Japan, and she has held residencies through High Concept Labs, University of Chicago Performance Lab, and Ragdale Foundation, among others. Kilmurray has received support through 3arts and Chicago Dancemakers Forum’s 2018 Greenhouse Program. She is the founder and director of The Fly Honey Show, which has run annually for more than 10 years. 

Derek McPhatter. Photo: Jaclyn Simpson for Lyric Opera Chicago Voices.

Derek McPhatter is a Chicago-based theater-maker committed to new work that engages diverse communities, emphasizing narratives at the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, and technology. McPhatter is a founding playwright with the Fire This Time Festival, and was featured in Harlem9’s 48 Hours in Harlem Festival—two Obie-award-winning platforms that champion Black playwrights and theater-makers in New York City. McPhatter served as librettist, book writer, and lyricist for five new music-theater works with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and is a 2021 Creative Capital Awardee. McPhatter is the MCA’s inaugural Chicago Performance Commission grantee through its New Works Initiative Program.  


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 2021–22 season of MCA Performance and Public Programs is also provided by Elizabeth A. Liebman. 

Major support is provided by the Alphawood Foundation and by Julie and Larry Bernstein. 

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

Additional generous support is provided by Ms. Shawn M. Donnelley and Dr. Christopher M. Kelly, Cynthia Hunt and Philip Rudolph, Ashlee Jacob, Anne L. Kaplan, Sharon and Lee Oberlander, D. Elizabeth Price and Lou Yecies, and Enact, the MCA’s Performance & Public Programs affinity group. 

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

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