The Unsolicited Sideshow

Pop-up exhibition and event series

2017 — Built

Collaborators: Chelsea Ross, Matthew Harlan

Exhibit and Installation Design; Public Space Design; Signage Design

The Unsolicited Sideshow was a pop-up exhibition and event series that explored how the contemporary condition of ‘otherness’ informs architectural expression. It opened at the Chicago Athletic Association (CAA) Hotel as a corollary exhibit to the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennial’s main stage at the Chicago Cultural Center. Like the parallel tents of entertainment that congregate around a traveling circus, The Sideshow positioned a cast of architectural oddballs to amplify the energy and visitorship of the main attraction, and give voice to a younger generation of thinkers and practitioners. Drawing on its history of nomadic entertainment, the pop-up content activated the lobby and mezzanine of the CAA, displayed on a collection of custom sandwich boards designed as abstracted sideshow characters and fabricated by Could Be Design.

Alongside the exhibition, the Sideshow culminated in four Friday night "Takeover" events. These one-night happenings activated the CAA's double-height event space, highlighted select contributors from the pop-up content in the lobby, and explored thematic cues that engage ideas of otherness. The Takeovers initiated dialogue between the Sideshow and the Biennial and the Chicago community through performance, installation, panel discussions, and multi-media presentations.