Navy Pier: Artistic Powerhouses Nick Cave and Jeanne Gang Join Forces for the First Time to Debut Special Project, Here Hear Chicago, at Navy Pier

Collaboration also features prolific musician and composer Kahil El’Zabar and his Art Music Ensemble (AME), September 13 and 16; Project presented in partnership with Chicago Architecture Biennial and EXPO CHICAGO

CHICAGO, Aug. 22, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — CHICAGO – Navy Pier, Chicago’s mission-driven cultural district, is set to showcase the works of world-renowned contemporary artist Nick Cave and international architect and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang this September. The two creative powerhouses are coming together for the first time to present Here Hear Chicago, a new site-specific project series that incorporates art, design and performance. The epic collaboration will be featured at the Pier on September 13 and 16 as part of the free public programming for the Chicago Architecture Biennial and EXPO CHICAGO, the International Exposition of Modern & Contemporary Art. The joint project is an extension of Navy Pier’s ongoing commitment to offer guests free, one-of-a-kind arts and cultural programming, designed to inspire, educate and connect communities across the city and globe.

As part of Here Hear Chicago, the locally-based duo, Cave and Gang, will present a series of live productions in which Cave’s performers will interact with and respond to a set of dynamic, custom-fabricated “Stage Buoys,” designed by Gang and her practice, Studio Gang. The program kicks off with Cave’s newest performance work, Up Right Chicago, on Wednesday, September 13 at 9 p.m. in the Aon Grand Ballroom, coinciding with the preview opening night of EXPO CHICAGO (September 13 – 17, 2017) in Festival Hall. On Saturday, September 16, Cave will present his internationally-acclaimed HEARD Chicago at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in Polk Bros Park, as well as a Soundsuit invasion at 2 p.m. at the Wave Wall on the South Dock. Guests are encouraged to make their way to the Lake Stage on the Polk Bros Park Performance Lawns to catch a special 5 p.m. viewing of Here Hear Chicago on Screen, a collection of short films and documentary clips highlighting Cave’s iconic works. In the event of rain or inclement weather, HEARD Chicago will move to Sunday, September 17 in the Aon Grand Ballroom.

All Here Hear Chicago events and performances are free and open to the public, with limited seating available in the Aon Grand Ballroom. Those interested in attending the Ballroom performance(s) should check the Navy Pier website for registration information.

“I so look forward to sharing Up Right and HEARD with my hometown Chicago,” said Cave. “We have been blessed to bring these community-based, collaborative works to other cities and have watched their effect ripple out in the neighborhoods for months and years after. Given this city, this particular moment and the artists coming forward to join forces, I am certain that the ideas of empowerment and collective dreaming will be absorbed and shared wide and far.”

Cave’s expressive art pairs imaginatively with Studio Gang’s innovative designs to create a playground of interaction for guests to experience and enjoy. Building upon the participatory nature of Cave’s work, Studio Gang’s “Stage Buoys” will define a flexible space for performance, responding to the spontaneous interactions of performers and the public.

“Our design features mobile objects, or ‘Stage Buoys,’ that will collectively define a space for performance,” said Gang. “Reflecting the kinetic experience of Nick’s performances, the mobile objects find equilibrium amid the movement of the performers and bustle of the audience at Navy Pier.”

The “Stage Buoys” are self-balancing, upright objects with a mirrored finish that react to, and reflect the movements of the performers, and can be re-arranged for each performance. More than 200 “Stage Buoys” will demarcate the stage, defining a space that is neutral enough to host different performances but specific enough to give an identity to the broader series. The design references buoys or sea marks that float on the surface of water, communicating information through color, light, material, and shape. Like a traditional buoy, the “Stage Buoys” are designed with a very low center of mass so they will return to an upright position after interactions with the performers or being moved by other forces such as the wind, adding to the dynamism of Cave’s performances.

Studio Gang’s “Stage Buoys” will remain on display throughout the Pier once the performance series wraps, serving as temporary art installations and offering guests the unique opportunity to view and engage with the pieces up close through the course of the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial.

“While the ‘Stage Buoys’ are designed specifically for the Here Hear Chicago performances, our hope is that they will pique the curiosity of guests and other artists who may find new ways to play and interact with them, giving them a life beyond this event,” added Gang.

Here Hear Chicago also showcases one of the most prolific and innovative jazz musicians and composers of his generation, Kahil El’Zabar. As part of the series, El’Zabar and his Art Music Ensemble (AME) will produce and perform the music for Up Right Chicago and HEARD Chicago, with new original pieces composed by maestro El’Zabar and arranged by the great Robert “Baabe” Irving III. AME also features a stellar cast of internationally acclaimed master musicians, including, Alex Harding; Charles Heath; Ian Maksin; Tammy McCann; artist, producer and bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma; and Corey Wilkes. Each score will consist of four to five movements. HEARD Chicago will also feature the Chicago Children’s Choir as part of the score and performance. For each number, El’Zabar and company will aim to perform fresh, adventurous music that inspires their audience to feel a sense of uplifting transcendence.

“My hope is to take the audience on a sonic journey through the mind and art of world-renowned visual artist Nick Cave and superstar architect Jeanne Gang,” said El’Zabar. “I am thrilled to be a part of this extraordinary project that integrates all of our works, with our art and creative process becoming the tools that uplift us all!”

The Cave-Gang collaboration is part of a series of special projects initiated by the Chicago Architecture Biennial, which provides a platform for groundbreaking architectural projects and spatial experiments that demonstrate how creativity and innovation can radically transform our lived experience. The 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial will be open to the public and on view from September 16, 2017 through January 7, 2018. The kickoff of the 2017 Biennial will align with the sixth annual EXPO CHICAGO, which hosts leading art galleries presented alongside one of the highest quality platforms for global contemporary art and culture each September.

Here Hear Chicago is supported by a lead grant from the Chicago Free For All Fund at the Chicago Community Trust. The Chicago Free For All Fund was established for the purpose of supporting and promoting free cultural activities and events in the city of Chicago, with a primary focus on the performing arts and interactive visual arts. Additional funding for the program comes from The Joyce Foundation, which works to support artists and arts organizations in Chicago and the Great Lakes region. The project is also supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, which makes project-based grants to individuals and organizations, and produces public programs to foster the development and exchange of diverse and challenging ideas about architecture and its role in the arts, culture and society.

Here Hear Chicago is just one of the many examples of Navy Pier’s commitment to raising its profile as a mission‐driven cultural organization, with continued focus on offering dynamic and eclectic experiences through partnerships and programs. For more information on this and other special offerings at the Pier, please visit

About Nick Cave

Nick Cave is a Messenger, Artist and Educator working between the visual and performing arts through a wide range of mediums inclusive of sculpture, installation, video, sound and performance. He has been described as a Renaissance artist and says of himself “I have found my middle and now working toward what I am leaving behind.” Cave’s hybrid creations are part Alexander McQueen, part Andy Warhol, and wholly bizarre, brash, and beautiful. He combines elements of sound, performance, color, and costume to create whimsical works that even the darkest soul would find hard to resist. His genre-expanding work explores the ways that African identity is subsumed into disparate cultural codes. Chair of the fashion graduate program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Cave has built a notable reputation as an educator and artist.

About Studio Gang

Led by American architect Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang is an architecture and urban design practice based in Chicago and New York. Renowned for a design process that foregrounds connections among individuals, communities, and the environment, Jeanne and Studio Gang are currently designing major projects throughout the Americas and Europe, including the expansion of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City; a new United States Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil; and a unified campus for the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Intertwined with its built work, Studio Gang develops research and related publications, exhibitions, and programming that push design’s ability to create public awareness and lead to change—a practice Jeanne calls “actionable idealism.” This work includes Polis Station, an ongoing project exploring how American police stations can be reimagined through an inclusive design process to better serve their communities that debuted at the 2015 Chicago Biennial, and Hive, an installation on view at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, that investigates the structural and acoustic properties of a renewable material.

About the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial

The second edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial is the largest architecture and design exhibition in North America, showcasing the transformative global impact of creativity and innovation in these fields. This year’s Biennial addresses the theme “Make New History.” Artistic Directors Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee have selected over 140 practitioners whose eye-opening creations will invite the public to explore how the latest architecture can and will make new history in places around the world. The main exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center, hosted by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, is free and open to the public from September 16, 2017 through January 7, 2018. The 2017 exhibition is amplified through six community anchor sites and two special project sites throughout Chicago – plus installations, performances, talks, films and more hosted by over 100 local and global cultural partners. For more information, visit


EXPO CHICAGO/2017, The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, is presented by Art Expositions, LLC at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, hosting more than 135 leading International exhibitors presented alongside one of the highest quality platforms for global contemporary art and culture. Now in its sixth year as a leading international art fair, EXPO CHICAGO (September 13–17, 2017) offers diverse programming including/Dialogues,IN/SITU, IN/SITU Outside, EXPO VIDEO, theCuratorial Forum, the Art CriticsForum,Special Exhibitions,EXPO Projects andOVERRIDE | A Billboard Project. In addition, EXPO CHICAGO continues to publish THE SEEN, Chicago’s International Journal of Contemporary & Modern Art. Under the leadership of President and Director Tony Karman, EXPO CHICAGO draws upon the city’s rich history as a vibrant international cultural destination, while highlighting the region’s contemporary arts community and inspiring its collector base. In 2017, EXPO CHICAGO and theChicago Architecture Biennial(September 16, 2017 – January 7, 2018) will align, establishing the city as a preeminent destination for global contemporary art and architecture, intersecting across a wide variety of programs including panels, international residencies, exhibitions and citywide events. In addition, EXPO CHICAGO partners with thePalais de Tokyoin Paris for its first U.S. satellite exhibition to kick off EXPO CHICAGO (September 12) at the Roundhouse at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Vernissage, the opening night preview benefiting the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, takes place Wednesday, September 13, 6–9 p.m. General Admission to the exposition is Thursday, September 14 – Sunday, September 17 (for hours please visit Tickets to the exposition will go on sale in June 2017. Northern Trust is the Presenting Sponsor of EXPO CHICAGO. For more information about EXPO CHICAGO and EXPO ART WEEK(Monday, September 11 – Sunday, September 17), visit

Navy Pier Mission Statement

Navy Pier is the People’s Pier, Chicago’s lakefront treasure, welcoming all and offering dynamic and eclectic experiences through partnerships and programs that inspire discovery and wonder.

About Navy Pier

Located on Lake Michigan, Navy Pier is one of the top-attended nonprofit cultural destinations in the Midwest, stretching more than six city blocks and welcoming more than nine million guests annually. Originally opened in 1916 as a shipping and recreation facility, this Chicago landmark showcases more than 50 acres of parks, restaurants, attractions, retail shops, sightseeing and dining cruise boats, exposition facilities and more. In 2017, Navy Pier continues to celebrate its centennial with a series of special events and programming, year‐round rides on the Centennial Wheel and ongoing pier‐wide redevelopment efforts as part of the Centennial Vision. Navy Pier, as a nonprofit organization, maintains and manages the 50-acre pier that is being redeveloped as a contemporary, environmentally responsible urban space. More information is available at

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A photo accompanying this announcement is available here

Payal Patel
Navy Pier
(312) 595-5073
[email protected]