*Foto in evidenza: Igshaan Adams. South African, born 1982. Langa, 2021. Photo Mario Todeschini. Courtesy the artist; blank projects, Cape Town © Igshaan Adams
The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 South MIichigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
April 2 – August 1, 2022
The exhibition is organized by Hendrik Folkerts, former Dittmer Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Igshaan Adams: Desire Lines is the first major solo exhibition of the work of Igshaan Adams (b. 1982, Cape Town, South Africa) in the United States, showing the full scope of his expansive approach to weaving and sculpture and running at the Art Institute from April 2 until August 1, 2022. The presentation brings together more than 20 projects dating from 2014 to the present, including a large-scale new installation created especially for the exhibition.
Designed in close collaboration with Adams, the exhibition revolves around the notion of desire lines: informal pathways created by pedestrians choosing a more expedient route to their desired destination, as both a convenience and a way to transgress fixed boundaries. Adams employs the desire line as a powerful metaphor for the paths created by one individual which then assume a collective form—for instance, tracing lines on the physical and socio-political terrain of his hometown Bonteheuwel, South Africa and rematerializing them as woven pathways in his tapestries and installations. In doing so, he transforms what appears to be a mundane detail into a site of beauty, visibility, and agency.
Adams’s hometown, Bonteheuwel, is a key source of inspiration to the works in the exhibition. This predominantly working-class township in southeast Cape Town was founded in the 1960s as part of the forced segregation during the Apartheid era. Adams approaches Bonteheuwel both as a deeply personal space, imbued with childhood memories and a network of familial relationships, and a politically charged space, shaped by violence and generational trauma. Neither experience can erase the other; both are always present.