Open Outcry, 2012
24 December 2016

A commission for the exhibition Feast at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago February 16 — June 10, 2012, curated by Stephanie Smith.

Open Outcry was presented at the Financial Gallery at CME Group in the Chicago Board of Trade Building on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 and featured a unique sculptural seating arrangement that Carroll designed in collaboration with a British architect, Simon Dance. The arrangement is comprised of the basic elements of the table and chair. The process of design for Open Outcry began through working sessions with the mathematician Philip Ording — a specialist in knot theory — who explored the ways that various seating configurations might facilitate different kinds of interaction among guests. These sessions created the system, but did not create the geometry that was developed as a part of their collaborative process that mirrors the give and take of the process on the trading floor.

The title for the project, Open Outcry is the name of the process for communication and trading between securities professionals on a stock of futures exchange. The place where this trading takes place is called a pit.

Each individual table and chair can function as a singular unit and be combined to form a circular pattern or a sinewy line as a single row and features five limited edition sets of 12 tables and chairs. The inspiration came from the trading pits themselves, Shaker furniture and movements, tables designed for diplomatic negotiations (The Paris Peace Talks) to the set designs by Ken Adam for the Stanley Kubrick films.

Geometric form is integral to the design of Open Outcry and the manner in which the chair can disappear inside of the table. The materials that were considered and are being used in construction are commodities that are traded internationally. These include Baltic Birch Plywood and a black laminate finish.

A commission for Feast, Carroll’s Open Outcry (2012) is the latest iteration of a long-running project in which Carroll creates site-specific conversations around meals under the title “Itinerant Gastronomy.” The first of these events took place in 1996. Inspired by the strong responses and discussions that the oyster elicits as an almost primal food. She has since developed many iterations of the project, notably a series of exquisitely orchestrated conversations/meals that she and a changing cast of collaborators create for small groups of guests in unusual settings: the Highline in New York (pre-revitalization), a bridge in New Jersey, school teachers in Texas, a museum construction site in Boston, a technology start-up, etc.

For Feast, the location was a viewing room high above an active trading floor at CME Group. Carroll intended the combination of the setting — a site marked by global flows of capital through a rapidly changing financial system — the seating, the guests, and the meal itself to catalyze useful conversation about the intersections of food, power, finance, policy, and art.

Carroll developed the menu in collaboration with farmers and chefs in Chicago and will take commodities like pork belly and corn as points of departure, and everything will be locally sourced and there will be five courses that will be prepared in front of the guests.

The sculptural seating arrangement was the first time that the actual seating was considered and designed as a part of Itinerant Gastronomy.