Invisible Roses

A site-specific work for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s 50th Anniversary

Responding to Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s fabric wrapping of the MCA’s building in 1969, this site-specific work commissioned for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago's 50th anniversary explored concepts of certainty and being hidden in plain sight. Handed a map to the performance, museum patrons unfold the paper, noting it is blank other than a simple instruction to “locate roses.” They begin a sort of scavenger hunt in the museum, with fresh sod underfoot welcoming them to a display of a thousand roses .... Upon bushing the rose petals across the blank map, previously invisible ink appears, displaying a true map to the performance. During the performance, the audience engages in a series of illusions, magic, experiments. The scent of wet dirt imbues audience members with the ability to discern the color of a playing card simply by feeling it. Each viewer causes printed images to vanish and reappear. At the conclusion of the work, Andrews slowly unfurls a large pile of cloth, which was seen to be concealing a single rose in a vase. She snaps the head off of the rose and crushes the petals in her fingers. The 30 foot length of cloth is then given to two women in the audience who cut it in half, tie the pieces together, and then it is instantly and magically restored in their hands. It is then seen that the head of the rose has surprisingly grown back in mere minutes. 

Your performance was full-blown and memorable.

- Lynne Warren

  Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago 

Jeanette's graceful sleight of hand is equal parts mystifying and alarming. How something so slippery and illusory can happen within arms reach of your watchful eye is truly remarkable.

- Jason Pickleman

  Owner/Curator, Lawrence & Clark Gallery, Chicago

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Photos: Michael Sullivan (On the Real Film) with additional images from Catherine Miller

Video: Justin Leyba (The Control Room)

Special Thanks to: Caryn & Mike Andrews, Ann Meisinger, January Parkos Arnall, Abraham Ritchie, Amanda Abernathy, Aubrey Ainsworth, Benjamin Barnes, Eric Andrews, Ethan Schleeter, Heather Miller, Kristen Kaniewski, Jeffrey O’Malley, Joshua Adam Rupp & Ashley Ann Rupp, Lorenzo Conte, Luciano Ristori, Molly Steere, Rick Ekelof, Will Rogers, and Central Sod Farms, Inc.

In Memory of Eugene Burger & Jason McNinch