Monthly Archives: May 2013

CERN: Jeremy Bolen at Andrew Rafacz

This work has long left the Andrew Rafacz Gallery, but is still worth noting.

“In Unititled (CERN7.18.12), at least six intertwined methods of observing through recording are employed, in an almost desperate attempt to form a more complete document of the liminal space between the real and simulated,” writes Monica Ryan of Jeremy Bolen’s work. Bolen does indeed combine layers and methodologies of perception into his flattened frames. But the flattening is not, as Ryan posits, suspended by the various sources and methodologies used to create its contents. Rather, the framed composition of the works give a sensation of a complex scrapbook or collage: a view to a memory or place through multiple artifacts, minutae and ephemera, but a flat experience nevertheless.

Bolen explores various sites, themselves charged with scientific research and meaning, such as the site of the Large Hadron Collider, by using various self-made camera apparatuses, and exposing film to earth, night sky, dew, etc from those sites. The exposed film is then used to create images, which are juxtaposed in CERN with photos of the site in question along with grass clippings, dirt and dust from the site. The pieces read as: photos of places on colored backgrounds with dust and dirt surrounding them.

We enjoy a scrapbook not because we inherently love looking at locks of hair, or coins glued to pages, or bad photos of our friends, but because of the memories those collages bring back into our consciousness. But because I have no real firsthand experience of Bolen’s research process—I have not seen the apparatus he works with, I have not been to these sites myself—I am left not with a different experience of place, or a different understanding of scientific processes and methodologies, but a nostalgic longing for an experience I’ve never had.

The photos are well-composed but uninviting: the dirt and ephemera vary in their composition, and in some cases settle at the bottom of the frame, as if thrown and forgotten: the images produced from negatives are all various shades of delicious green but become a background palette for a framed image which becomes again: scrapbook. I wish, for instance, I could feel the dirt as it was burying negatives: but the green shades tell me nothing as to whether the dirt was cool or warm to the touch.

So Bolen’s work offers me up not a key for interpreting his own form of data, not a translation of his own experience of the site, but something else entirely. I am looking at the scrapbook of a stranger from another planet. There is no common point of reference—I cannot identify with images of people, or wonder at fashions, or gaze at flora and fauna different from what is familiar in my hometown. I am faced with a collection of an experience I cannot relate to.

In short, in his attempt to complete the space ‘between the real and the simulated’, Bolen’s work lands far away from the real. Rather than create a new interpretation of data collection an research process, CERN manages to distance us from the sites under examination—the cold distance of scientific research without the reassuring discovery of collectively useful information or memory.

Impact Peformance Festival

At first I was afraid what to expect during a 3.5-hour performance evening, knowing that performance art can be dreading. But to my surprise the evening was well balanced and kept me engaged till the end.

It started with Hannah Verril’s performance Kind of Play which was situated in the main performance space, the adjacent class room, and the garden. As audience members we were free to walk around the different areas. In the main room there was a huge projection of the classroom (located at the other side of the wall it was projected on and filmed from the outside to the inside). In front of the projection, which was visually overwhelming, there was an installation of objects that all belonged to the nature of the space: chairs, a fan, pedestals, a ladder, a music stand. Both in the video and in real time, Verril was lying on the threshold between the garden and the classroom, suggesting a pathway from the outside to the inside. The five other performers, who reminded of stage helpers, moved the objects from the main space to the classroom and eventually into the garden. It was an ongoing reconfiguration of the space, which mirrors the nature of a theatre.



Verril’s piece made me reconsider viewership and artist-ship as she drew me into her visual play of constructing and reconstructing a video installation, a performance, a sculpture. Was I witnessing an artist at work in her studio, a choreography piece, or was I part of the stage setup before the beginning of the show?

For Autumn Hays piece Operations we were redirected to the auditorium where Hays was lying on stage. Dressed in her underwear and with bandages on her body, she was quietly singing a children song. In order to take a seat we had to pass by her on stage. Hays doesn’t have the body of a model to say the least and we were directly confronted with the sight of an overweight woman. But as the performance starts she inverts our expectations by surprising us with humorous and painful jokes and gestures. Using her husband as her assistant, she starts cutting her bandages open with surgical equipment. This is filmed and live projected by her assistant. It looks very eerie until we get to see what she takes out happens to be a film-negative. It offers instant relief. All the while she tells bad hospital jokes.


Hays’ performance makes me once more aware that things aren’t always the way they seem and that we shouldn’t judge people merely based on their appearance. There are so many more stories going on within us than we can tell from the outside. The body is temporal and sometimes does its own thing, whether we like it or not. Hays’ piece raises many questions in a very compelling way without offering answers. How do we relate to a body that is different from the commons? How do we deal with sickness and decay? How do we deal with bad news from the doctor? How do we talk about it?

The evening concluded with a performative installation by Aundrea Frahm. We were invited in a huge inflatable where performers staged a light and sound show. I have to admit that due to the large audience and my height I didn’t get to see much inside so I observed what happened from the outside. It was visually very appealing, the people on the inside looked like sardines in a can who were all mesmerized by the play with the light. Though I do think this work would have worked better in a big gallery show where you would discover the piece. Maybe it is because of the impermanent nature of light itself that it wants to be found instead of presented to you in an evening filling performance night. As Verril’s piece reminded us, everything in a theatrical setting is highly staged and controlled. But the thin plastic and ephemeral nature of the materials makes me want to see it in a less controlled and staged space. It would have triggered my imagination in a more profound way.


Destroy the Picture @ Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago In The Age of the World Picture, Martin Heidegger addresses the topic of reflection. He uses the existence of a photograph of the entire planet taken from the Apollo 13 spacecraft … Continue reading

Review of Michael Robinson’s Circle Spectre Paper Flame at the Carrie Secrist Gallery


Stepping into the Carrie Secrist Gallery the small collages and two large photographs lined the white cube. These works created by Michael Robinson are part of the exhibition Circle Spectre Paper Flame. All of the two dimensional works have a correlating thread of color and imagery. The imagery appeared to comment on an otherworldly place of being or a type of bohemia life style. This similar feeling was present in the video piece, which was neatly tucked into its own room for viewing.  All of the work seemed to fall into that category of New Age urban art, the tread that is in galleries, on T-shirts, or used in hipster retail stores like that of Urban Outfitters. I say this because of the subject matter, color palette, and compositional arrangement.

The piece that did not seem to fall into this category was the photograph depicting a moon’s nightly cycle that scrolled across two pages of an opened book held up to the darkened sky. The piece was significantly strong because of the multi faceted idea of have a book take record of the duration of the moon’s nightly ritual like unto a camera’s position. Or considering the idea that the book already preexisted with this image of the moon and then being held up to mimic the real moon. It kept my attention and coxed me to consider and reconsider the creation and concepts being discussed.

The collages themselves were well made and compositionally tight but, they did not have as much life to them as did the photographs. The video work could be walked into at anytime and place the viewer in a state of walking in on someone’s journey. The reoccurring themes in the video showed to be centered around a mystical existence that was commenting on a utopia or otherworldly experience.


This exhibition is worth considering but in no way does it stand out as an exhibition that has to be attended.

Nate Young and Caroline Kent, The Suburban, Oak Park

Opening May 5th, 2-4 pm

The Suburban

125 N Harvey Ave

Oak PArk, IL 60302

MFA Thesis Exhibition from the Department of Art Theory & Practice, Northwestern

MFA Thesis Exhibition from the Department of Art Theory & Practice
May 3—June 23, 2013

Opening reception: May 2, 2013, 5-7 pm

Opening remarks by Wassan Al-Khudhairi, former director of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar.



Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art
40 Arts Circle Drive
Evanston, IL 60208

This exhibition represents points of culmination and crisis that overlap within the art-making practices of Amanda Elise Bowles, Daniel Giles, Esau McGhee, and Matt Morris. The intensive research with which they have been engaged during their tenure in the Department of Art Theory and Practice situates the resulting artworks in a climate of rigorous critical thinking and a negotiation of today’s art worlds. Variously reflexive, incisive and contemplative, this exhibition poses fresh lines of inquiry into material conditions that give shape to our present and future.