Kirsten Leenaars (NL) is an interdisciplinary video artist based in Chicago. Various forms of performance, theater, and documentary strategies make up the threads that run through her work. She engages with individuals and communities to create participatory video and performance work. Her work oscillates between fiction and documentation, reinterprets personal stories and reimagines everyday realities through shared authorship, staging and improvisation. Leenaars examines through her work how we relate to others and explores how through the production of the work itself new forms of relating can be created. Recent projects include The Broadcast (2019), a video project for the Broad Museum in East Lansing considering truth and distortion in public address and media representations; Present Tense (2019), a multichannel video work, commissioned by Illinois Humanities, in which young men and women reflect on their lived effects of the current justice system and prison-industrial complex. (Re)Housing the American Dream (2015-ongoing), a multi-year performative documentary project with American born and refugee youth commissioned by the Haggerty Museum of Art in Milwaukee.


Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, at venues including the Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City; MAI, Montreal; the District of Columbia Arts Center, Washington DC; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Art Institute of Chicago, The Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee; Glass Curtain Gallery, Threewalls, Gallery 400, and 6018North, Chicago; Elaine L. Jacob Gallery, Detroit; Printed Matter, Inc., New York; the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, Rotterdam; and Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin. Leenaars has received multiple grants from the Any Warhol Foundation; The Mondrian Fund; cultural support grants from the Dutch Consulate in New York, Milwaukee Art Board Production Grant and Fonds BKVB. Leenaars has been nominated for the 3Arts Award and the USA Fellowship and received an Envisioning Justice Award from Illinois Humanities. She currently is an Associate Professor in the Department of Contemporary Practices and the Performance Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.