Who Broke Amalia Pica’s Chicagou Sculpture?

The London-based artist Amalia Pica’s granite sculpture “needs repair,” and the MCA has cut short its ten-week tour.

Photo: Courtesy of the artist and Chisenhale Gallery, London. 

We may never know who did the damage to Amalia Pica’s granite sculpture, titled I am Chicagou, as I am in Chicagou, just like a lot of other people are

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago has prematurely ended a ten-week private home tour of London-based artist Amalia Pica’s small granite sculpture on July 1. The sculpture “needs repair,” writes the exhibition’s co-curator, Julie Rodrigues Widholm, in a statement.

As part of Pica’s survey exhibition at the MCA, her granite sculpture, carved in the shape of an echeveria plant and titled “I am Chicagou, as I am in Chicagou, just like a lot of other people are,” (intentionally misspelled) was being passed around to ten different “stakeholders” in Chicago’s art scene, for one week each. Each participant was responsible for handing off the sculpture to the next borrower.

There were no limitations on what the participants could do with the sculpture once it was in their home or office, except that it be respected and kept in a secure location. Beyond those general guidelines, the museum and the artist initiated the project on a basis of shared trust.

A Facebook page created by one of the ten participants shows that Mayor Rahm (or his office staff) may have been in possession of the sculpture several weeks ago. The sculpture was then successfully lent to a new home for a week, before it was passed a final time to an unnamed household. It is assumed the sculpture was damaged there or while in transit. 

Pica changes the name of the granite sculpture depending on which city it is touring and the sculpture has toured numerous cities worldwide without incident. The object is currently at the MCA’s conservation department. It “will take time to bring it back to its original form,” writes Rodrigues Widholm. She concludes, “Pica understands that any scars the sculpture has collected are part of the project and part of the sculpture’s history.”

Pica’s exhibition continues at the MCA through August 11. 

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