CAN Journal  |  November 01, 2022


Lauren Yeager has a lot of plastic in her studio. “I have basically been doing a mad sprint to gather as much material as I can before the weather breaks,” she says. “Volumetric, plastic consumer stuff. A lot of coolers. I am always finding coolers. You can’t avoid that, really.”

Yeager’s race is on, because a proposal by SPACES Gallery has been chosen by the US State Department: The organization will be commissioner, and executive director Tizziana Baldenebro with her colleague Lauren Leving (who is curator at moCa Cleveland) will curate the exhibition to be presented at the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale Archittetura May 20 through November 26, 2023. Lauren Yeager is one of five artists included. The path to the world stage was straightforward: The State Department has an annual open call. As executive director of SPACES, Baldenebro applied.

According to a press release, the proposed exhibition “Everlasting Plastics will present a series of works, ranging from sculptures to installations, which collectively invite visitors to reframe the overabundance of plastic detritus in our waterways, landfills, and streets as a rich resource.”

“As the climate crisis becomes a tangible reality, our daily objects must be agents of change,” Baldenebero said. “This exhibition brings together a range of practices that are examining, salvaging, and upending a global calamity.”

Yeager has a long-established practice of upending perceptions of plastic waste, recontextualizing forms to echo architectural features, reframing value, and appreciating forms for themselves. Similarly, the other artists Baldenebro and co-curator Leving have chosen for the exhibition have practices working with cast-off and common material, especially plastic, to make beautiful or even useful new things, and to confront the challenges of doing so. The other artists to be featured in the US Pavilion are Xavi Laida Aguirre (founder/director of the architectural design practice stock-a-studio, and assistant professor of architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Simon Anton (co-founder of the Detroit-based, experimental design group Thing Thing, which creates machines—extruders, injection molders, and others—that can remanufacture waste plastic into new products), Ang Li (an architect and assistant professor at the School of Architecture at Northeastern University whose practice investigates the material afterlives of the contemporary building industry), and Norman Teague (a Chicago-based designer specializing in custom furniture who works with common, locally-sourced building materials to create works that relate to the culture of the client and/or community). All the artists are connected to the industrial Midwest, especially Chicago and Detroit. Baldenebro and Leving got to know their work via studio visits and exhibitions in recent years.

Commissioning and curating the US pavilion is “probably the biggest thing [SPACES has] ever done,” said Baldenebro in a phone call in mid-October, just before making the news public. In addition to the exhibition in Venice, it will involve public programming, engagement of young artists and curators, and eventually bringing the exhibition itself to Cleveland for presentation at SPACES. Baldenebro says to support all this, in addition to a $375,000 grant from the State Department, SPACES will endeavor to raise another $1 million.

By Michael Gill, CAN Journal

Original Article

Sign Up Never miss our goings-on. Sign up for our email.

Share This

Photo Gallery

1 of 22