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 neighborhoods. John Preus gained access to CPS materials that were slated for the landfill, and he redirected six semi-loads of damaged desks, tables, chairs, and bookshelves to a vacant storefront in Washington Park. Over the past four years the materials became material for John Preus’ work, a natural tool for his interest in creating dialogue about contemporary social-political, civic, and labor structures. Countless repurposed cubes, tables, and sculptural furniture objects created by John Preus have been disbursed throughout the world as Infinite Archive Series ; yet most CPS materials remain unused. They have inspired John Preus to open his project as a community undertaking, inviting artists and designers to respond to the materials conceptually and functionally.
50 participating artists created installations, objects, wall pieces, functional work, interventions, and offsite projects for a 6-month exhibition at Open House Contemporary (OHC). Located at 740 N Ogden, OHC is a gallery and award-winning AirBnb, owned and operated by artist and designer Matthew Kellen. OHC consists of three 3-br apartments in a single building, which will be completely open for artists’ projects and sitespecific installations. Local artists made work, with fabrication and collaboration as needed, while international participants sent designs for prototyping or adaptation to the CPS materials.
Infinite Games continues John Preus’ ongoing project of giving new life to discarded CPS materials; opens his salvaging and reuse practice to other artists, and most importantly deeply embeds the project within a lived architecture and design space. For John Preus, “the leftover detritus from the social and economical upheaval [of the CPS closings] becomes archived into functional form. The material world hides traumas and victories,” and by putting a community of artists and designers in contact with disposed materials, new dialogues and conversations will emerge that will point to more ambitious responses to Chicago’s architectural displacement.