Chicago is famous for many things, but it's the city's skyline that is truly breathtaking. I was lucky enough to live in The Second City in 2005 while I was on an exchange programme at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and I grew an affinity with the city that prides itself on it's town-like charm. Chi-town is a cultural capital and the Art Institute of Chicago houses one of the finest art collections in America, spanning more than five-thousand years of artistic expression from around the world. Connected to The School of the Art Institute, the museum made my walk to class more than average, but I'm wondering what current students make of British artist, Roger Hiorns and his commissioned work for the Modern Wing at the Institute. Untitled (Alliance) 2010, has been installed on the Bluhm Family Terrace, in which two Pratt & Whitney TF33 P9 engines lie in the foreground of Chicago's skyscrapers. Hiorns, who atomized an aircraft and filled a room with the dusty remains for the 2009 Turner Prize exhibition, uses commercial machines as symbols of power in society. The engines on display belonged to a Boeing EC 135 Looking Glass surveillance plane and Hiorn is interested in the value of such objects within a contemporary art context - further narratives are created by the artist's incorporation of three pharmaceuticals into the engines that are commonly used to treat trauma and depression, making a connection between global security and individual well being. No doubt visions of Pinal Airpark in Arizona and other infamous graveyards for planes that litter South West America will come to mind when confronted by these familiar, yet curious objects, but more controversial references of Homeland Security, planes and skyscrapers may be the most thought provoking work of art in an ever-changing and adaptable twenty-first century.
Untitled (Alliance) is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago until the 19th September 2010.