Artist of the Week: Jan Tichy

Jan Tichy is a contemporary artist and educator. Working at the intersection of video, sculpture, architecture, and photography, his conceptual work is socially and politically engaged. Born in Prague in 1974, Tichy studied art in Israel before earning his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he is now Assistant Professor at the Department of Photography. Tichy has had solo exhibitions at the MCA Chicago; Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago; CCA Tel Aviv; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; No Longer Empty, NY and Chicago Cultural Center among others. In 2011, he created Project Cabrini Green (2011), a community-based art project that illuminated with spoken word the last high rise building at the Cabrini Green Housing Projects in Chicago during its month long demolition. Recently, Tichy started to work on a long-term community project in Gary, Indiana.

Jan Tichy

Jan Tichy by Chester Alamo-Costello

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I’m an artist and educator living in Chicago and teaching at the Photography Department of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. My practice ranges from prints through sculpture and video to installation and public art and is anchored in the light sensitive understanding of the world around us, reflecting on and questioning the social and the political. One of the projects that I have been involved recently is the Heat Light Water project in Gary, Indiana that aims to restore historical building and return it to the people of Gary as a potential cultural hub. It is long term and very collaborative project that brings together many different groups with various agendas.

Type 15, 2015 Screen print, acrylic on paper, inch

Type 15, 2015
Screen print, acrylic on paper, inch

What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I just installed in Tel Aviv the exhibition “On the Decomposition of a Plane” that I have been working on since the last summer when I collaborated on a commission with the local Fernwey Gallery. The initial dialog with the Chicago printers started a process of acquiring a new printing technique that developed through conceptual framework into the large project with over forty prints, single channel video and light installation. For an upcoming exhibition in Berlin I’m reimagining the glass city Moholy Nagy shot for Things To Come of H.G. Wells. Seems like after eighty years it could bring relevant and similar questions of social order in Europe today.

Installation view: On the Decomposition of a Plane

Installation view: On the Decomposition of a Plane

What is one of the bigger challenges you and/or other artists are struggling with these days and how do you see it developing? I think artists have their own private challenges that are usually the really “big” ones for each of us and vary as our art does. The big challenge that most artists have been trying to answer is the question of audience. With whom are we in a dialog. Media, means and methods of delivery, ways of access are changing. And it is challenging the dialog.

Installation no.26, 2015 video installation, 13 min two channel video projection, six embossed prints on paper

Installation no.26, 2015
video installation, 13 min
two channel video projection, six embossed prints on paper

What are you listening to right now? Summer in the City by Regina Spector on Spotify

What was the last exhibition you saw that stuck out to you? Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography at Getty and Noah Purifoy in LACMA.

Chicago Nature (after Nauman), 2014 Neon, 66*66 inch, software, radio tuner of Chicago police scanner

Chicago Nature (after Nauman), 2014
Neon, 66*66 inch, software, radio tuner of Chicago police scanner

What do you collect? Bags of all the sugar I have eaten in America.

What’s your favorite thing about your city? It is second to none.

"installation no.15 (Siskind)", (2012) , video installation, 11min from the collection of Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago

“installation no.15 (Siskind)”, (2012) , video installation, 11min
from the collection of Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago

What is your beverage of choice when working in your studio? Coffee, always good coffee.

Things To Come (1933-2012), three channel video, 5'20 min Jan Tichy & Lazslo Moholy-Nagy

Things To Come (1933-2012), three channel video, 5’20 min
Jan Tichy & Lazslo Moholy-Nagy

What do you do when you’re not working on art? Take care of my plants.