Catherine Sullivan and Arturo Herrera in Adaptation in Chicago

Arturo Herrera, source drawing from Les Noces, 2007. Courtesy the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York.

While adaptation is a common practice in popular culture‚Äîfamiliar to moviegoers and booklovers who debate endlessly whether the film version is superior to the novel‚Äîit is perhaps less well known as a practice in contemporary art. The exhibition Adapation at the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art looks at the use of this strategy in the recent work of Catherine Sullivan (Season 4), Arturo Herrera (Season 3), Guy Ben-Ner, and Eve Sussman & The Rufus Corporation. These artists have transformed source material to make their own adapted works of art, re-envisioning classic literature, painting, film, ballet, and even email as new video installations.

Adaptation is a tightly focused exhibition: each of the four artists is represented by one or two significant video installations. Arturo Herrera’s first-ever video installation, Les Noces (The Wedding, 2007; see for a clip), enjoys its US premiere in this show, and is an animated adaptation of the ballet of the same name by Igor Stravinsky. Catherine Sullivan’s Triangle of Need (2007; see, builds from a notorious and ubiquitous type of mass e-mail scam, as well as a smaller-scale new work developed in collaboration with students from the University of Chicago.

Read more about each artist and their work and view video clips on the exhibition’s extensive website,