Press Release

ICA Announces Major Exhibitions for Its 2019 Fall Season and 2020 Winter Season

Philadelphia, PA
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  • Culminating Chapter of Pioneering Exhibition Colored People Time
  • Revelatory Exhibition Examining the Individual Practices of the Artists who created the fierce pussy Collective
  • First Major Institutional Exhibition of Sculptor Michelle Lopez
  • Inaugural Institutional Show of Video Work of Artist Trevor Shimizu at Kunsthalle Lissabon, Presented by ICA as Part of Landmark I is for Institute Initiative
  • Large-scale Solo Survey of Philadelphia-based Sculptor Karyn Olivier


For its fall 2019 / winter 2020 seasons, ICA in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania mounts a series of exhibitions interrogating key issues of our time, including race, gender equality, consumerism, social activism,  nationalism, and economic disparity. ICA continues to challenge and explore the established definition of a contemporary art institute, fostering bold and innovative programming, along with international partnerships that provide a platform for established and emerging artists, and create groundbreaking curatorial exchange. 

Exhibitions in the upcoming seasons include: Banal Presents, the final chapter of the pioneering three-part exhibition Colored People Time, which aims to develop new discourse around race, history, and time through the lens of the present day; arms ache avid aeon: fierce pussy amplified, an exhibition illuminating the distinct artistic practices of the four individual members of the collective, who formed in New York City in the 1990s at the height of the AIDS crisis; the first major institutional exhibition of Philadelphia-based artist Michelle Lopez that features her most ambitious work to date; the first solo presentation of the video work of Trevor Shimizu, which will be mounted at Kunsthalle Lissabon as an extension of the landmark international initiative I is for Institute, a project spearheaded by ICA that investigates the nature of an institute through physical and digital manifestations; and an exhibition devoted to the work of Philadelphia-based sculptor Karyn Olivier, and marks ICA’s most significant solo presentation of a black sculptor.

“ICA continues to spearhead new initiatives that expand the perceived boundaries of a contemporary art institute, broadening its impact through the launch of new physical and digital spaces that demonstrate a continued commitment to exploring alternative, marginalized, and under-represented voices. The programs this season address these issues as they pioneer new experiments with history, time, scale, and space,” said Amy Sadao, Director of ICA. “On a personal level, I am particularly pleased to be presenting the work of fierce pussy, who I regarded as mentors during my time as Executive Director of Visual AIDS in New York City. Their approach to braiding together the lives of those affected by the epidemic, and their response against government inaction, became a template for what an artist citizen and activist can and should be.  Our overall commitment to showing this work and that of local artists—including Michelle Lopez and Karyn Olivier—illustrates ICA’s understanding of itself as an institution embracing alternative perspectives and queer and feminist thought.”


Colored People Time: Banal Presents

September 13 – December 22, 2019

Banal Presents marks the compelling final chapter in the ground-breaking three-part exhibition Colored People Time, which has unfolded over the course of the past year through the presentation of two preceding chapters, Mundane Futures and Quotidian Pasts. Building on the ideas and discoveries explored in previous chapters, Banal Presents features new and recent work by Sable Elyse Smith and Cameron Rowland and a newly commissioned work by Carolyn Lazard that offers a profound exploration into how the history of chattel slavery and colonialism in America exists in and impacts our present moment. Lazard’s commission explores the history of medical experimentation at Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia, funded by the University of Pennsylvania in the 1950s through the 1970s, and draws relationships between the prison, the hospital, the university, and the museum in the form of a multi-media work. The commission extends the artist’s ongoing investigation into issues around consent within the context of black life.

Colored People Time is organized by ICA Assistant Curator Meg Onli and will be accompanied by a catalog published in the form of a reader. A robust program and a collaboration with the quarterly literary magazine Callaloo will also support the exhibition. 

arms ache avid aeon: Nancy Brooks Brody / Joy Episalla / Zoe Leonard / Carrie Yamaoka: fierce pussy amplified

September 13 – December 22, 2019

This exhibition offers unprecedented insight into the distinct yet interconnected artistic practices of Nancy Brooks Brody, Joy Episalla, Zoe Leonard, and Carrie Yamaoka, the four artists who formed the New York-based queer art collective fierce pussy in 1991. Conceived as an opportunity to illuminate the unique approach and cultural output created by each artist, the exhibition features work culled from three decades of their distinctly solo – yet communally resonant – practices. Photography, painting, drawing, video, sculpture, and installation created by each artist are contextualized in the work of fierce pussy displayed in the living archive section of the show, that includes archival materials  highlighting their pioneering history, fostering dialogue between individual and collective cultural production. 

Founded in response to the AIDS epidemic, which is still ongoing, fierce pussy raised public awareness of lesbian identity and visibility during a decade of increasing political mobilization around gay rights. The archival material exhibited in arms ache avid aeon: fierce pussy amplified captures the urgency of their formative years and showcases the use of low-budget and low-tech materials that were readily available to the artists during that time that continue to inform the collective’s work through the present day. Informed by their politics, the artists push the boundaries of their chosen media rather than employ political content as subject matters. The exhibition explores and gestures towards moments of joy and connection in the face of overwhelming loss through the deep and complex investigation of time, material, and perception. Offering up multiple possibilities and interpretations of the artists’ work and advocating for a sustainability between art and political activism, the exhibition broadens a timely conversation on what it means to be an individual in a collective world.

A traveling exhibition originating from the Beeler Gallery at Columbus College of Art & Design as four chapters of continuously changing artworks, ICA presents arms ache avid aeon: fierce pussy amplified as a fifth chapter with a new configuration of artworks that demonstrates the transition of the exhibition between institutional venues. 

This exhibition is organized by the Beeler Gallery at Columbus College of Art & Design’s Director of Exhibitions Jo-ey Tang, and organized with Associate Director of Exhibitions Ian Ruffino, and Registrar Marla Roddy. The exhibition will be organized at ICA by Kate Kraczon, Laporte Associate Curator.

Michelle Lopez: Ballast & Barricades

September 13, 2019 – May 10, 2020

Marking the first major institutional exhibition of Michelle Lopez, the ICA has invited the Philadelphia-based artist to produce her most ambitious exhibition to date—a site-specific installation that reduces a city to rubble inside the museum. The exhibition will see the artist, known for creating sculptural works that subvert histories of minimalism through a feminist lens and deconstructing symbols of nationalism, power, and identity through a process of formal reduction, alchemy, and violence, expanding on her previous body of work, House of Cards (2018). Barricades, borders, scaffolding, and the remains of street protests responding to the destruction are suggested, interpreted, and meticulously crafted by hand. The work invokes an urban landscape fabricated out of real estate speculation and political discord, causing it to precariously teeter on the brink of collapse.

ICA is producing the first publication devoted to the artist’s work in conjunction with the exhibition, which opens at a critical moment in her career as she also prepares for a forthcoming project organized by the Philip Johnson Glass House. Michelle Lopez: Ballast & Barricades is organized by Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber (CHE’60) Curator Alex Klein. 

I is for Institute

Trevor Shimizu Video Works: ICA at Kunsthalle Lissabon

November 20, 2019 – February 1, 2020

Evolving out of critical thinking and archival research initiated as part of ICA’s 50th anniversary, I is for Institute presents a timely opportunity to think broadly about the perceptions, definitions, and connotations surrounding contemporary art institutions. Forming collaborations with thought leaders and preeminent organizations in the art world, ICA has launched both online and physical manifestations of the project that further delve into these questions and provide access to ongoing conversations, examining how contemporary art institutions came to be, what they mean now, and how they might exist in the future. The launch of the new I is for Institute online portal (, captures informal conversations with leading figures in the art world as they reflect on their work in institutional and local contexts, and aims to foster dialogue and offer resources on the breadth of contemporary arts organizations globally while highlighting the research and work underpinning their programming. 

The digital element also runs alongside and offers critical support to forthcoming physical exhibition initiatives. The first is a pioneering partnership that will result in the physical and digital takeover of Kunsthalle Lissabon in Portugal by four distinct arts organizations, each occupying one season to test and examine how geographical and organizational differences challenge notions of institutional identity. As part of the unique cross-institutional exchange, the visiting institution will position their branding and visual identity on the exterior and interior of Kunsthalle Lissabon, as well as organize the programming, publications, logo, and website around the resulting show. This November, ICA inhabits and transforms the Lisbon institution into an extension of its Philadelphia building to present the first exhibition devoted to the video work of artist Trevor Shimizu, who was previously featured in the 2018 show Broadcasting: EAI at ICA. Primarily known for paintings and drawings that exude a wry sense of humor, this exhibition will featurean in-depth display of his lo-fi videos dating from the late 1990s to the present, video paintings, and online interventions,offering a prescient and poignant commentary on our socially mediated moment.

A fully-illustrated publication co-developed with Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI) will accompany the exhibition. The exhibition and its corresponding events program is organized by ICA’s Dorothy & Stephen R. Weber (CHE’60) Curator Alex Klein. 

I is for Institute is an ongoing initiative spanning an online portal, ongoing research, and physical displays spearheaded by Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber Curator (CHE’60) Alex Klein and ICA’s Spiegel-Wilks Curatorial Fellow Tausif Noor.


Karyn Olivier: Everything That’s Alive Moves

January 24—May 10, 2020

This exhibition offers the rare opportunity to examine the recent trajectories of Philadelphia-based artist Karyn Olivier’s investigation into scale and its relation to issues of inclusivity and acceptance. The exhibition builds on several public projects and commissions created by the artist in recent years and continues to revise, rework, and expand on key works that examine the role of monuments and their relationship to civic space, representations of conflicts within history, and the ephemeral nature of collective gestures. Works in Karyn Olivier bring together two themes the artist has focused on in recent years: larger-than-life scale and the minute effluvia of individuals’ lives. A fully-functioning carousel for only one rider, a large car made entirely of discarded shoes, and a brick wall built using clothing wedged between the bricks as mortar, which evokes memories of laundry sites Olivier visited in Trinidad and carries overtones of refugee structures and traces of bodies, are among the works selected to be reimagined at ICA. 

Olivier, recipient of the 2018 Nancy B. Negley Rome Prize, is currently based in the ancient city, investigating its ruins, public works, and monuments and creating prototypes and models in conversation with the originals in various media—small fabricated sculptures, temporary installations, 2D images, prose and video. The results will influence and drive this presentation at ICA. 

ICA is producing a catalog of the exhibition that will serve as the first overview monograph of the artist. The exhibition is organized by Daniel and Brett Sundheim Chief Curator Anthony Elms.

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Karyn Olivier, Car Cover and Export Shoes, 2018

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