If you walk by Cloud Gate, better known as “The Bean,” next week, you might come across a group of strange, shimmering shapes moving around and underneath the famous sculpture. It’ll be worth sticking around to watch them — they’re part of a special public performance by the Oslo-based choreographer Ingri Fiksdal, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art.
From Monday through Wednesday, starting at 4:30 p.m., Fiksdal is staging Diorama, a haunting work intended to evolve in tandem with the winter sunset. For one hour, 15 individuals dressed head-to-toe in sequin costumes will shuffle and sway in Millennium Park, their outfits reflecting the gleam of Anish Kapoor’s mercury-inspired sculpture.
Fiksdal — whose practice explores the potential of choreography to alter viewers’ mental and physical states — hopes to invite passersby to view this familiar urban landscape anew.
“The performance is relatively minimal,” she says. “The movements are happening very slowly, so you’ll have time to take in the surroundings in a way you might not have otherwise. It’s almost a meditation on the passing of time and the development of landscape on a geological scale — very, very slow stuff.”
Diorama takes its name from Louis Daguerre’s early 19th-century diorama theater, which consisted of paintings that came to life with the careful manipulation of light and sound. Fiksdal’s performances, too, will be accompanied by music, albeit a soundscape that some viewers might miss: art-pop and gothic metal artist Jenny Hval has collaborated with noise artist Lasse Marhaug to provide a hazy, drone composition that’s meant to blend in with the environmental noise.
An ongoing performance, Diorama has traveled to various cities since its 2017 premiere in a fishing village in Torbay, England. It’s been staged in Santarcangelo in Italy, Reykjavik, and various cities in Norway; this is its first U.S. presentation, after which it will move to Cincinnati. Fiksdal adapts the performance to each new venue, so every iteration is unique.
Millennium Park, notably, represents Diorama’s most public setting thus far; more than a few unwitting tourists will likely come across the curious scene. Fiksdal, who visited Chicago in 2016 while working on another body of work, says that “Cloud Gate came to my mind because it relates to the aesthetic of Diorama’s costumes … these blob-like figures. It will be the most famous site [where Diorama has been staged], in a way, because of the artwork there.”
From today through Sunday, the MCA is also hosting another performance by Fiksdal in its Edlis Neeson Theater (tickets are $30). STATE, born from Fiksdal’s research into ritual dances from five continents, will feature dancers moving in maximalist sculptures to a dense score by Marhaug.
STATE is designed to be experienced as a companion piece to Diorama, with viewers seeing both within seven days. But for those who can’t tolerate the cold for long, it’s also a practical option to catch Fiksdal’s dramatic and moving work indoors.