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Activate July 2017 Wasteland

07/26/2017 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Chicago Theater Alley
N State St & E Benton Pl
Chicago, IL 60601
Free with RSVP

Activate July 2017 Wasteland

Activate July 2017 Wasteland

Activate July 2017 Wasteland: Dispose and Discover explores the alley as the space where we dispose of our unwanted stuff – and discover “trash” that continues to hold value.Through a series of interactive art installations using discarded objects and trash receptacles as the primary materials, the event highlights the story of our trash and the alley’s role as a garbage hotspot.

The identity of the practical, hardworking alley is inextricably linked to trash. Chicagoans, who each throw out about one ton of garbage per year, make frequent trips to the alley dumpster. But, as the old adage goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Picture an alley picker’s excitement to find an old footstool lounging by the trash can. Imagine a scrapper stacking old pipes and a rusty stove in his retrofitted pickup.

Curators Duncan Bindbeutel and Desmond Naranjo, along with Missy Perkins and John Ibarra, have created an array of installations and activities that highlight the alley’s main function: a destination for the discarded.

Art Installations:

  • Flametube, a kinetic sculpture designed by Joshua T. Gilbert made of repurposed materials (such as recycled cell phone chargers and salvaged car components) that shoots flames in response to musical input
  • Mystery Cans from artist Kelly Wyatt, whose contents will mystify patrons as new and mysterious forms emerge from not-so-ordinary trash and recycling cans throughout the night
  • Propagation, a robotic flower made of reclaimed materials and cutting-edge 3D printed components, programmed to move, grow, and respond to the audience from industrial designer Steven Krejcik and software developer Paul Kirby
  • On Garbage Pond, a large functional fountain sculpted by Devon Bonstein made from items found in Chicago alleys


  • Chicago brass band and performance art group Environmental Encroachment uses a mobile band, costumes, and antics to create unique entertainment environments. Its mission is to create playgrounds for the body and mind through dance, music and art.
  • Up-and-coming “acoustic country punk” band Bad Bad Meow recently migrated from North Carolina to take the city of Chicago on a ride. The band delivers a fun, energy-packed set with clever and edgy lyrics that you can’t help but find yourself humming later.
  • Vourteque is a top electro swing and neo-vintage DJs. Musician, producer, remix artist, DJ, carny, and ringmaster – Vourteque entertains and wows crowds from Los Angeles to New York.
  • With a polished sound, DJ Will Galvan has ruled Chicago nightlife, maneuvering easily between glitzy commercial clubs and musically sophisticated parties all around the city. By immersing himself in many genres, from house to hip-hop to disco to pop, Galvan has mastered the true form of DJing.
  • A self-described “soulfully influenced experimental band,” Attack the Sound is a group of young Chicago-bred musicians that defies the limits of genre. Focusing just as much on the show as the music, the band is known for unforgettable live performances and sounds that break barriers.
  • The Wasteshed, a local resource for repurposed art, craft, and school supplies, leads a rat-mask-making activity using reclaimed materials.
  • A collaborative mega building blocks activity with milk crates.

The Portal, a monumental structure overlaid with an illuminated scene of alley activities returns to amplify the ACTIVATE experience. By their very nature, alleys are voids – the space between buildings. The Portal provides a sense of arrival and puts the alleyway in play with the streetscape. Designed by PORT Urbanism, the structure will display a photo montage comprised of contemporary and historic images to support each theme, inspiring passersby to give an alley a second glance and wonder about its history.

The remaining 2017 ACTIVATE events on August 24 and September 28 will explore the alley as a channel pulsating with power lines and a hideaway where we can cavort and misbehave away from the eyes of the street.

Activate July 2017 Wasteland

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