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Plastically Present

In Gu’s Room

Premiered on Saturday, July 11, 2020, 4 pm via Facebook

A cello-guided tour of Gu Dexin’s Untitled (1989), Plastically Present transforms the sculpture’s crinkled ramps, its gown crevices, and its molded ligaments into a narrative of jagged melodies.


Jonathan Gardner, UChicago AB ’20, Music, is a cellist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. His interests include American soul music and Brazilian popular music. He is a recent winner of the Olga and Paul Menn Prize for music.

Plastically Present is Gardner’s sixth project for the Smart. Previously he, often with collaborator Harlan Lewis, has presented compositions for the exhibitions Theme and Variations: The Multiple Sorceries of Félix Buhot, Down Time: On the Art of Retreat, Resurgence and Innovation, Solidary & Solitary, and The Allure of Matter.

Like his in-gallery performances for Rodin’s The Thinker in 2018, Gardner’s Plastically Present interprets an enigmatic sculptural work through effervescent cello improvisation.