EXPO CHICAGO Announces Expansion Of Curatorial Initiatives, Increasing Commitment To Supporting International Dialogue In The Midwest

Mar 28, 2019 9:17PM

Ondine Chavoya, Image Courtesy Independent Curators International

The International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art, today announces the expansion of curatorial initiatives taking place during the eighth annual exposition (September 19 – 22, 2019), including the creation of the Red Bull Arts Global Curatorial Initiative, an expansion of the Curatorial Exchange supported by Red Bull Arts; and new partnerships and programs surrounding the Curatorial Forum, the exposition’s comprehensive program for mid-career and established curators presented by Independent Curators International (ICI). The exposition’s curatorial developments and commitment to programmatic expansion support its larger mission to increase the international dialogue and curatorial engagement taking place in the Midwest.

“EXPO CHICAGO exists in an incredibly collaborative city and prides itself on its relationships with a wide range of partners, from foreign consulates to regional non-profit art organizations,” said EXPO CHICAGO Director of Strategic Partnerships Mia Khimm. “This year, we are focusing our initiatives to support our international exhibitors and programming within the context of expanding Chicago’s global and regional artistic landscape.”

Curatorial Exchange | Red Bull Arts Global Curatorial Initiative

EXPO CHICAGO’s second annual Curatorial Exchange is a leading international initiative developed in partnership with foreign consulates and cultural agencies. The Curatorial Exchange offers select mid-career and established curators based around the world the opportunity to engage closely with their peers, convening as part of a four-day program that includes access to exhibitions, top private collections, artist studios, museums and institutions during EXPO CHICAGO.

This year, EXPO CHICAGO is expanding upon the Curatorial Exchange program, which features curators based in Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, The Netherlands and South Africa, by introducing the inaugural Red Bull Arts Global Curatorial Initiative, a multi-city, fully funded curatorial initiative taking place surrounding the eighth annual exposition (September 18 – 23, 2019). Conceived as a two-part professionalization and cultural immersion program engaging Chicago and Detroit, the fellowship provides 2–4 international curators the opportunity to participate in EXPO CHICAGO’s 2019 Curatorial Exchange program, followed by the opportunity to visit Detroit and engage the city’s artists, galleries and institutions. The program, supported by Detroit-based Red Bull Arts alongside EXPO CHICAGO's consular partners, places an emphasis on the artistic and cultural contexts of both Chicago and Detroit. The program will allow the exposition to expand its reach, securing a more in-depth opportunity for dialogue between global cultures and the Midwest.

“EXPO CHICAGO’s curatorial initiatives provide an opportunity for a global community of curators to convene and engage with ideas and points of intersection and divergence within their work, while also exploring the particularities of a place: Chicago,” said Matthew Eaton, Red Bull Arts Detroit Program Manager. “That spirit is mirrored in what we do at Red Bull Arts Detroit supporting artists, curators and writers and engaging them with our place: Detroit. The opportunity to extend the work happening at EXPO CHICAGO while bringing these two vital Midwestern cities into further conversation with one another is truly exciting.”

Select international curators and full list of consular partners to be announced at a later date. For more information on the Curatorial Exchange, click here.

Curatorial Forum

Developed by EXPO CHICAGO and Independent Curators International (ICI), Curatorial Forum offers a group of mid-career and established curators, working independently or with an institutional affiliation, the opportunity to engage with their peers and explore significant issues relating to curating, programming, institution-building and audience engagement. The Curatorial Forum will once again feature a series of invitational sessions focused on critical questions relevant to contemporary practice and context, led by internationally recognized leaders in the field.

This year, the Curatorial Forum is expanding upon its ongoing partnership with the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, a collaboration that shapes the forum experience and allows for deeper engagement with citywide art and architecture, coinciding with both the eighth annual exposition and the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The foundation will once again host the Curatorial Forum, and will build upon their longstanding partnership by supporting the forum participation of several architecture curators in a session focused on architecture led by Executive Director and Chief Curator of Storefront for Art and Architecture José Esparza Chong Cuy.

“The Curatorial Forum is a rare opportunity for curators from across the U.S. to convene during EXPO CHICAGO, to share knowledge and experiences among peers and to discuss some of the most urgent questions faced by American art institutions today,” said ICI Executive Director Renaud Proch. “Last year, the forum brought together over 30 curators from 18 U.S. states. We are proud to continue building on this collaboration with EXPO CHICAGO, and to expand it this year with a partnership with the Graham Foundation to engage the field of art and architecture.”

At the core of the Forum, a series of peer-led breakout sessions explore urgent topics in the field today, including “Race, Gender and Representation,” led by Williams College Professor of Art History Ondine Chavoya; “Architecture,” led by Executive Director and Chief Curator of Storefront for Art and Architecture José Esparza Chong Cuy; “Placefulness,” led by independent curator Sara Raza; “Accessibility,” led by Director of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation Cara Starke; and “Modern Museum in the Global Modern,” led by Director of the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond Dominic Asmall Willsdon; among others. This year the Curatorial Forum will conclude with an assembly to foster regional professional networks and collaborations across the contemporary cultural landscape.

A keynote speaker, to be announced at a later date, will address Curatorial Forum participants, Chicago professionals and other visiting curators. Previous keynote speakers include Jochen Volz (Director of the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, 2018); Jesús Carrillo (Independent Curator, 2017); and Sally Tallant (Director, Liverpool Biennial, 2016).

For more information on the Curatorial Forum, click here.

Curatorial Forum Session Leaders

Race, Gender and Representation

Ondine Chavoya is Professor of Art History and Latina/o Studies at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. He is the author of numerous texts on Chicano avant-garde art, video and experimental cinema, and is a leading figure in the field of Latinx art history and visual culture. His curatorial projects have addressed issues of collaboration, experimentation, social justice and archival practices in contemporary art. Chavoya has organized exhibitions and events including Asco: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972-1987, the first museum retrospective to present the wide-ranging work of the performance and conceptual art group Asco (2011-2013) with Rita Gonzalez, Robert Rauschenberg: Autobiography (2016) and Michel Auder: Chronicles and Other Scenes (2004) with Lisa Dorin.


José Esparza Chong Cuy is the Executive Director and Chief Curator at Storefront for Art and Architecture. Formerly, he was the Pamela Alper Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA Chicago), where he organized solo exhibitions and projects with Jonathas de Andrade, Federico Herrero, Mika Horibuchi and Tania Pérez Córdova. He is also co-curator of the retrospective exhibition Lina Bo Bardi: Habitat, which is co-organized between MASP in Sao Paulo, the Museo Jumex in Mexico City and the MCA Chicago. Previously, he was Associate Curator at the Museo Jumex.


Sara Raza is a curator and writer on global art, and was the winner of the ArtTable New Leadership Award for Women in the Arts (2016). Raza was most recently the Guggenheim UBS MAP curator for the Middle East and North Africa and curated But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2016, which travelled to the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, Milan in 2018. Raza has curated exhibitions and projects for several international biennials, festivals and museums, including Mathaf Arab Modern Art Museum,

Doha, Qatar and MacKenzie Art Gallery, Saskatchewan, Canada. She has also curated the Tashkent Biennial, Uzbekistan; Rhizoma: Saudi Pavilion, Venice Biennale in 2013; and the Baku Public Art Festival Azerbaijan in 2015. She has organized a number of exhibitions for Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah. Formerly, Raza was the head of education at Yarat, Baku, Azerbaijan, founding curator at Alaan Art Space, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and curator of public programs at Tate Modern, London. Raza is the West and Central Asia editor for ArtAsiaPacific and lives and works in New York, where she runs her own independent global curatorial and visual cultures studio practice Punk Orientalism.


Cara Starke is Director of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in St. Louis. Previously, she served as Director of Exhibitions at Creative Time, where she realized ambitious public art exhibitions in locations from Central Park to the Domino Sugar Factory, with artist commissions including Kara Walker, Xenobia Bailey, Simone Leigh, Otabenga Jones & Associates, Bradford Young, Suzanne Lacy, Nick Cave, Spencer Finch, Alicia Framis, Nina Katchadourian, Ragnar Kjartansson, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, David Levine, Karyn Olivier, Lauri Stallings, Trevor Paglen and Tom Sachs. Prior to Creative Time, Starke was Assistant Curator at the Museum of Modern Art, where she organized and collaborated on exhibitions with artists Francis Alÿs, Pipilotti Rist, Olafur Eliasson, Mark Boulos, Dinh Q. Lê, William Kentridge, Doug Aitken and Douglas Gordon. Starke holds degrees in art history from Williams College and Cornell University.

Modern Museum in the Global Modern

Dominic Willsdon is an educator and curator. He is the Director of the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where he is also associate professor in art education. He was formerly Leanne and George Roberts Curator of Education and Public Practice at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a Pedagogical Curator of the 9th Mercosul Biennial (2013) and a Co-Curator of the 9th Liverpool Biennial (2016), and Curator of Public Programs at Tate Modern (2000-2005). Recent curatorial projects include Public Knowledge (2016-19) and Suzanne Lacy: We Are Here (2019). Recent publications include Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good (MIT, 2016).

About Red Bull Arts

Red Bull Arts Detroit is an experimental, non-commercial arts space offering an artist residency, curatorial and writing fellowships and local micro-grants. With physical locations in New York and Detroit, Red Bull Arts focuses on extending the boundaries of exhibition making; supporting the production of new work by emerging and established artists; participating in and responding to the needs of local arts communities; and contributing to ongoing dialogue around contemporary issues and thought. The organization is dedicated to the cultivation and advancement of the arts.

About Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in Fine Arts

Founded in 1956, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts fosters the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture and society. The Graham realizes this vision through making project-based grants to individuals and organizations and by producing exhibitions, events and publications.

About Independent Curators International (ICI)

ICI produces exhibitions, events, publications, research and training opportunities for curators and diverse audiences around the world. Established in 1975 and headquartered in New York, ICI is a hub that connects emerging and established curators, artists and art spaces, forging international networks and generating new forms of collaborations.