Experimental Putt Putt Green Design Competition
Experimental Station; Thu 29–Tue 3.
Where does old art go to die? Often enough, it ends up in landfills, along with the 230 million other tons of waste Americans produce annually. One local nonprofit is working to spare at least a chunk of that discarded material from the scrap heap via its first Experimental Putt Putt Green Design Competition.
The Hyde Park–based Material Exchange—which works year-round to repurpose and reuse waste from cultural institutions to benefit nonprofits—called for artists, designers, engineers, a Hyde Park school group and everyday creative types to fashion Rube Goldberg–esque mini-golf holes out of Astroturf salvaged from artist Martin Kippenberger’s “The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s America” exhibition, which ran in 2000 at contemporary-art outfit the Renaissance Society. The rules also required the putt-putt greens to be reusable once the course is dismantled in April.
Organizers say the project, like Material Exchange’s other endeavors, comes as a response not only to the country’s waste problem, but also to the disparity the group saw in its Hyde Park neighborhood between the immense surplus of University of Chicago and the poverty that surrounds it.
The contest yielded nine winning designs that send the golf ball circuitously and inefficiently through the course: Imagine a two-story hole that requires the swing of a 15-foot putter; a turf-covered skateboard ramp; and an exercise bike that requires one person to peddle while another moves the ball along.
When the course debuts Thursday 29, mini-golfers are invited to tee off while musicians, DJs and other artists provide the entertainment. A $5 entrance fee raises funds for Material Exchange and Experimental Station, the art and environment-focused nonprofit that houses the putt-putt course. After that, it will remain open for special events or by appointment through April 13.—Martina Sheehan