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Chicago's statues will start talking in August

Written by
Kris Vire

Statues and sculptures throughout the city are about to get their voices heard. Via a year-long, Driehaus Foundation–funded public art initiative set to launch in August, writers with Chicago ties, such as Scott Turow, Tanya Saracho and Ike Holter, have been commissioned to write monologues in the voice of the Picasso, Miró's Chicago, the Art Institute's lions and other iconic pieces of public art.

Those monologues will be recorded by voice talent to include the likes of actor David Schwimmer, Lyric Opera diva Renée Fleming and poet Malcolm London. Touch an NFC-enabled smartphone or scan a QR code on a plaque at one of the 30 sculptures around town, and the sculpture will "call" you back.

The program, Statue Stories Chicago, is being produced by a British organization called Sing London, which launched a similar initiative in London and Manchester last year. Chicago is the first U.S. city to produce it, though its American-born producer, Colette Hiller, told The New York Times last year she also hoped to bring it to New York and Washington. Locally, there will be support from the Chicago Park District, the Art Institute, Chicago Public Library, the Chicago Tribune, DCASE and the Field Museum, which are expected to offer supplemental programming tied in to Statue Stories; the Goodman Theatre, Lookingglass, Steppenwolf and Second City are involved in the commissioning and casting. The full list of works, writers and voice actors is set to be revealed at a launch event on August 6.

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