About The Project-space
Unpacked is a mobile gallery that allows local artists the opportunity to create, curate, and exhibit work in communities and public spaces around Chicago. Unpacked expands the domain of what is conventionally an appropriate space to showcase art – the bed of a moving truck. The DIY artist space exhibits innovative artists across disciplines through a mobile gallery, allowing for guerrilla art shows around the city of Chicago.
Our mission includes museum and gallery accessibility; the importance of art as experience; and the relationship between institution, society, and artists. It functions to relate different communities to a global cultural network and allows the visibility of others. This innovative approach creates an interactive space for the viewer and the artist. The project offers curatorial experience to its artists and greater exposure through a platform that showcases local, emerging, and underrepresented artists.
Unpacked Mobile Gallery was founded in April 2017, by Lauren Iacoponi, Shane Elliot Bowers, and Naomi Elson. So far, Unpacked has exhibited in Chicago's West Loop, Downtown DeKalb, Comfort Station Logan Square, Pilsen Alliance, Chicago’s Muslim Cultural Center, and UIC’s Arab American Cultural Center, with 20 artists and 5 exbitions. Unpacked exhibitions act as a platform for social change, exploring topics of contemporary feminism, trans identity, LGBTQA+ issues, cultural diaspora, and the sex-positive movement.
Past exhibitions explored femme and trans identity, queer and feminist issues. The history of SWANA (Southwest Asian and North African) artists living in the diaspora and their relationship to their native lands - Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon and the importance of preserving their history and culture. This particular exhibition challenged harmful, dominant narratives which perpetuate acts of violence and ethnic cleansing in Palestine and the Middle East while examining the impact of colonialism, occupation and genocide in the Arab world. Unpacked facilitated an exhibition on societal discontentment, exhibiting art which politicized issues such as the housing collapse in 2006, which devastated America’s working class. We have an exhibition planned post-pandemic at the Leather Archives and Museum of Chicago that is sex-positive in nature, a simple yet radical affirmation to respect each of our unique sexual profiles and an acknowledgment that some have been damaged by a culture that tries to eradicate sexual difference. Through Unpacked we aim to redefine the accepted notions of our public and private lives and exhibit on topics that matter socially and culturally.