This project takes its name from a newspaper advertisement proclaiming the opening of the building currently housing SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries—Schlesinger and Mayer’s flagship department store, designed by Louis Sullivan, on October 12, 1903. According to the advertisement, a visitor to the store would encounter “earth’s choicest products in fabric and handicraft.” Using this phrase as its starting point, Pocket Guide to Hell appropriates the form of the guided audio tour to explore what was and continues to be produced in the store and, in particular, on the seventh floor, and to consider what gets valued, remembered, and forgotten.
Participants can select from three listening experiences. One offers a concise but thorough account of Sullivan’s architectural practice, aesthetic features of particular note, and the corporate histories of Schlesinger and Mayer and its longtime successor Carson, Pirie, & Scott Co. A second strand situates the exhibition in relation to the spatial history of the seventh floor of Carson, Pirie, & Scott and includes interviews with participating artists. The third tour collects together bits and pieces, practices and memories, that fail to fit within either a conventional architectural or gallery audio tour and yet cannot be fully discarded.