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Scratch Desk, a collaboration between by Iker Gil and Norman Kelly, is part of the exhibition “Infinite Games: An Extended Invitation” curated by John Preus and Mejay Gula and that runs from October 22 to November 28, 2018.

Scratch Desk explores how to reclaim a disused object. What was originally a student’s desk from a now vacant elementary school, takes on new meaning after its open front steel book box is removed. The collapsed writing surface, now askew and refinished with a standard powder coating, shows the markings of its previous life. The desk is worn but new, scratched but sealed. Still in disuse, since the school to which it belonged no longer exists, the desk combines an archaeological image with a projective one.

About the exhibition

In 2013, despite significant protest, the City of Chicago closed 50 Chicago public schools (CPS), displacing 12,000 children in the city’s south and west side neighborhoods. Chicago artist John Preus gained access to CPS materials that were slated for the landfill and redirected six semi-loads of damaged desks, tables, chairs, and bookshelves to a vacant storefront in Washington Park. The political nature of the material demands reflection upon the fate of these schools, of education more broadly, the children forced to relocate, and of the communities that will be changed by the closures.

An infinite game, a term coined by James P Carse, is one in which the primary objective is to keep playing the game, not to win or lose. Like a relationship or a conversation, it is an exchange in which the necessity of the opponent is implicit. These works of art and design by some of our most exciting artist speculate upon the relationships between art and politics, and the capacities of the material world as a vehicle for transformation. Participating artist have produced a rich assortment of objects, installations, instruments, and functional prototypes. As a way to prolong the game, Preus’s 2017 show, Infinite Games 50/50, which featured the work of 50 artists, designers, and architects, has been reimagined as an extended invitation for new participants.

Works by Alberto Aguilar, Iris Bernblum, Tadd Cowen, Douglas Ewart, Peter Fleps, Iker Gil and Norman Kelley, Seth Keller, Misha Kahn, Walter Kitundu, Laura Letinsky, Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Matt Metzger, Tim Parsons and Jessica Charlesworth, Dan Peterman, Erik Peterson, John Preus, Karen Reimer, Kevin Reiswig, Edra Soto and Dan Sullivan, Marvin Tate, Norman Teague, Dan Wang, Amanda Williams, and Titus Wonsey.


Type: Exhibition
Location: AIADO Gallery Hallway, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Authors: Iker Gil and Norman Kelley
Exhibition Curators: John Preus and Mejay Gula
Material: Wood and steel
Fabrication: Jason Lewis
Year: 2018
Status: Completed