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On Our Way to Tomorrow


On Our Way to Tomorrow, video still, 13-episode soap opera about the Museum of Contemporary Art, shot on site at the museum with staff members as actors, MCA, Chicago, 2011

In 2011, as part of the exhibition Without You I’m Nothing: Art and its Audience, artist Kirsten Leenaars produced On Our Way to Tomorrow, a soap opera based on real-life drama that was filmed on location using MCA staff and visitors as the core actors and extras. While the characters are fully fictionalized, scripts and improvisations were based on their actual positions at the museum Each day a new episode was filmed on site, and a scenario for the next episode developed. On Our Way to Tomorrow was part of the interaction series and exhibition Without You I Am Nothing, curated by Tricia Van Eck.



In a global city in the middle of America a museum for contemporary art is in search of her identity. Just what is it that makes this museum so different, so appealing? Which people really determine what is happening? Power struggles, affairs, greed, a passion for the arts, the ghost of a collection, a lost child, aspiring artists, ambitious curators, alert assistants, demanding board members, the mysterious custodian and amorous administrators all have their own motivations to shape the museum’s future. What is the story behind the returning mother, the mysterious phone messages, the missing chief curator, the adopted artist and the shooting at the museum, who is going to win the museum’s next curator competition? On Our Way to Tomorrow: the museum that never sleeps…



The majority of the cast members were current employees of the museum at the time of the shoot in 2011. Their roles are scripted for the main part and based on their actual positions at the museum, their characters are however fully fictionalized. In addition, visitors made up part of the cast, acting as extras. The parts played by the visitors were improvised and based on their own suggestions. The set for the soap is the second floor at the MCA, the main site that was used was Dan Peterman’s Villa Deponie.

Accountant Assistant: Meghan Hillmeyer, Adopted Artist: Kekeli Kodzo Sumah, Assistant to Chief Curator: Alia Walston, Assistant Curator: Michael Green, Associate Curator: Tricia Van Eck, Bathroom Custodian: Katie Kimmel, Chefs: Jason Dunda, Larry Lee, Child: Adam Ross, Collector: Jefferson Godard, Collector/Art Advisor: Marianne Deson, Dance Performance Leader: Surinder Martignetti, Detective: Joe Jeffers, Director of Development: Lisa Key, Director IT: Kamila Farschi, Eastern European Artist: Jeroen Nelemans, Ghost: Edra Soto, Head Security: Harish Subramanian, Independent Curator: Shannon Stratton, Individual Giving Assistant: Monica Wojtyna, Intern Associate Curator: Egan Franks, Intern and Volunteer Coordinator: Ashley Glicken, Lawyer: Jack Guthman, Lonely Mother: Zach O’Dell Hutchinson, Lost Son: Zach O’Dell Hutchinson, Manager of Foundation and Government Relations: Jonathan Kinkley, Manager Visitor Services: Kristen Kaniewski, Member of Woman’s Board: Rena Sternberg, New Assistant Curator: Mathew Jinks, Preparator: Rusty Shackleford, Preparator – Fashion Designer: Araidia Blackburn, President of Woman’s Board: Marcia Fraerman, Real Mother: Lise Baggesen, Receptionist: Jared Heldon, Researcher: Nolan MacGregor


Camera: Butcher Walsh, Intro Design: Dean Rank, Sound Editor: Mathew Jinks, Composer: Gordon Allen, Musicians: Dominika Kotarba, Masha Lankovsky, Constance Ricard, Karoline Schulze, Director/Concept: Kirsten Leenaars


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