The Renaissance Society: Unthought Environments

Chicago, IL

February 17 – April 8, 2018

Incubator Grant

Founded in 1915, The Renaissance Society is a non-collecting contemporary art museum known for its innovative exhibition program, encouraging artists to take risks and test ambitious ideas while minimizing institutional restraints. VIA Art Fund’s 2017 grant to the Ren supported their experimental group exhibition, Unthought Environments. Curated by Karsten Lund, Assistant Curator, Unthought Environments seeks to explore and expand on the relationship among humans, ecology, and the natural environment. The framework of the exhibition is based on the hypothesis that the elemental world surrounding us, including geology, water, sun, and wind, is a kind of “invisible infrastructure,” with profound effects that we don’t always recognize and crucial intersections with our more human-made domains.

The exhibition provided a platform for exhibition of new commissions and major projects by artists including Marissa Lee Benedict, the duo Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, Nina Canell, Cecile B. Evans, Florian Germann, Peter Fend, and Xaviera Simmons, among others. Their new works, including video, photography, installations, and sculptures, have different focal points in this “elemental terrain” and seek to attract a multi-disciplinary audience across the fields of ecology, philosophy, and media theory. The exhibition was complemented by a discursive program consisting of a publication, an online video platform, and a series of talks with practitioners from various disciplines.

For more information please visit The Renaissance Society.


Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, Avant Tout, Discipline, 2017; Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, B/NdAlTaAu, 2015. Courtesy of The Renaissance Society.

Marissa Lee Benedict, points from five shade clouds (Ivanhoe, Elysian, Upper Stone Canyon, LA Reservoir, Las Virgenes), 2018. Courtesy of The Renaissance Society.

Xaviera Simmons, Velvet, 2018. Courtesy of The Renaissance Society.

Daniel G. Baird, Meridian, 2018. Courtesy of The Renaissance Society.