Taking place over three Tuesday evenings, ‘Notes on Empty Chairs‘ is a series of three interactive performances by Chicago-based artist Kirsten Leenaars at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago that explore themes of empathy, loss, and remembrance. The performances are cumulative and collaboratively developed with local community groups that use techniques from the Theatre of the Oppressed, a theatrical form that emphasizes the promotion of social change through audience participation. By layering interviews, video documentation, and movement, Leenaars aims to present a testimony to the human experience. Audience members are challenged to become active spectators and partake in the theatrical events. This first performance is on March 24th followed by two more performances on Arpil 14th and May 19th.
Through her practice—a hybrid of social practice, video and performance based work—Kirsten Leenaars engages with specific people and communities. Her work oscillates between fiction and documentation by reinterpreting personal stories and reimagining everyday realities through staging, improvisation, and play. She examines the very nature of our own constructed realities, the stories we tell ourselves and the ones we identify with, and explores the way we relate to others. In her work she brings to light a shared humanity, often through humor and play. Recent projects include The Invasion of the Hairy Blobs, a science-fiction film she produced at the Hyde Park Art Center; Not In Another Place, But This Place… (Happiness), a video project that focuses on the Edgewater community in Chicago and explores notions of happiness, responsibility, and policy; andOn Our Way to Tomorrow, a soap opera series developed with staff and visitors of the MCA over a one-month research period and as part of the exhibition Without You I Am Nothing.