Author Archives: Ayo

Of Walking, review

Of Walking
Museum of the Contemporary Photography
October 18–December 20, 2013


It is the movement as well as the sights going by that seems to make things happen in the mind, and this is what makes walking ambiguous and endlessly fertile: it is both means and end, travel and destination.
—Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust

Walking is one of humankind’s most basic acts, it’s practical and ordinary in everyday life and we seldom put the idea in consideration. The meditative and spiritual character in the action are revealed more in the process of making after different way of capturing image is invented. Photographers with a camera on with them and walking around became part of our understanding in “Photography”. In this exhibition, it examine the encounter of subject through walking.

In the show, it’s a combination of museum collection and invited works. The collections are a gentle remind for the audience of how the artist in the past thought of walking, works like Gary Winogrand or Dorothea Lange. They see photography as a way of documenting everyday life and a way to recreate new form. But in this show I would like to focus more on the works they curate from current artist’s work, which represent some newer and different perspective.

Sohei Nishino, Diorama map, 2003-

Sohei Nishino, Diorama map, 2003-

Odette England , Mum(Right Foot), 2012

Odette England , Mum(Right Foot), 2012

To recreate the evidence of existence is an unique point and advantage of photographers. The possibility of real embedded in photography give artist freedom to recreate their route in a different way. In Sohei Nishino’s work, he collage the image he took from the city and remade a “city map” in a dreamy and surreal way. This way of making combines the truth of his existence of different place since all the image is made and cut by him, in the same time he used his walking experience to challenge the idea of geographical map produced by precise science. In Odette England’s work, she revisited his childhood home with her parents and England asked them to affix the negatives which she took to the soles of their shoes and meander through the homestead. She made photos from the negatives. In this poetic gesture she recreate the lost of memory on the broken and fragile image, and the physical attach of film and foot become part of the work.

Liene Bosquê and Nicole Seisler, City Souvenirs, 2010-

Liene Bosquê and Nicole Seisler, City Souvenirs, 2010-

The reencounter and reexamination of street photography is also part of the show. In Paulien Oltheten’s work, she makes photographs and videos of people reenacting gestures or motions that she first witnesses and then asks them to replicate. Which challenge the idea of how artist approach the idea of making photo on the street through walking. In Liene Bosquê and Nicole Seisler’s work, they invited participants to make physical impressions of the city in wet porcelain clay blocks. With “walking as a tool for art making, and creating tangible connections between people and place,” Bosquê and Seisler build collections of objects that reflect the relationship between individuals and the urban landscape. The engagement of the anonymous became vivid and not just someone be shoot on the street anymore.

Jim Campbell

Jim Campbell

And the examination of the physical action of walking itself also plays a role in the show. Jim Campbell tried to capture the action of walking but updates Muybridge’s approach. Unlike the photographs by Muybridge and most others, the figure is defined not by the light reflecting off it, but rather as a negative image where the space surrounding the figure emits light. The image is vague, there’s no identified face and figure, but in the train-station-like space, the movement of body reminds audience the action of walking itself.

If there’s anything critical to say about the show, I might think about many contemporary Japanese photographer like Rinko Kawauchi, who still insist their way of making, which is walking and shooting and present single images. The form might be old and cliche, but I think there are still some great work which worth participating the conversation. For me, the show is pretty satisfied to me with the different point of view in the process of art making. The reexamination might not be super surprising, but still have their unique point of view.

New Blood

New Blood
November 22, 23
Links Hall, 3111 N. Western Ave

New Blood

New blood is a performance festival largely participated by the performance department in SAIC. There are more than 15 works presented in this two day events. I went there for one and half days. Wei Hsinyen present her way of saying goodbye by interact with different object and recreation of audience’s response, it’s a short work but with careful thought and poetic language. Michal Samama recreate men’s gesture in female body and a piece of paper, though nudity is nothing new in 21 century, I still feel strong challenge from her work by how she embody the male gesture which made me almost ignore the existence of the female body, but the same time the nudity still reminds me the performer’s gender. One thing I noticed might also related to our discussion in the class which is how the documentation process taking a part in the whole performance. There’s an one hour performance on Saturday, artist invited different age person sharing their stories with audience, which is a very nice idea and warm work in a comfortable way. But the camera are all around and, I think the cameras made people aware of what they will be look like on the screen in the future instead of who they are there on the spot. I believe the camera’s influence the work, but I don’t really see any artist response to this consideration.

Mike Kelly in PS1

Mike Kelly
October 13, 2013–February 2, 2014


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I’m sure it’s too short to talk about Mike Kelley’s work in a blog post. But I might can share about a different point of view. As an international student, honestly, I don’t know much about his work before, but when I get to his show in PS1, not only the amount of work shocked me, but also the depth and diverse form made me dizzy. I feel like, maybe too exaggerated, I’m reading an american contemporary art history. The connection of diverse forms in different work are clear when they put together as a show, and actually this really help me to understand some of the works I met in the US. I feel like I understand more about where the languages come from and the context behind it after seeing this show. I’m not sure if it’s fare I made this comment as a nobody, but this is how I really feel in the show.

Theaster Gates: 13th Ballad

Theaster Gates: 13th Ballad



13th Ballad is an installation by THeaster Gates. This work is an extension of the artist’s 12 Ballads for Huguenot House, which  coproduced by the MCA Documenta 13. In his show,  the introduction talks about how he related the past work and the houses which I really like. THe choice of material is between banal and nostalgia, the material he brought into the reveal several layer of meanings. In the sense of relation to the original space, and the recreation of and object combining together, which is a very strong echo to his original ideas of the project.

ART/TECH: Interface

ART/TECH: Interface
ARC gallery
November 20 through December 14


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This show is curated by Jan Tichy. The show invited artists to submit work related, investigates, discusses, or is influenced by the technological advances that have had an impact on all aspects of our lives and experiences. In the beginning i thought it’s a vague theme, but the works there are actually amazing. I would say the works speaks louder than the curatorial statement. But I don’t found it’s any problem. In this show, many pieces are outstanding, piece made by Christine is a series of paper cutting, which is she explore her body gesture through digital signals, the shape and flow in the objects became a signature, a drawing and calligraphy. Phil Peters’s work is a fence with telephone on two sides, it’s a simple narrative of the construction of communication early in the  west, the telephone wire are based on the fence for protect railroad. The object is fascinate without the story behind but the functionality made me curious about the story behind, in the same time it doesn’t decrease or flatten the depth of the work. The critics might go to the artist are all from SAIC, but it’s the strength and diversity of the works did defend itself and made the show stand sturdy.

Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle: Happiness is a state of inertia

Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle: Happiness is a state of inertia,
Monique Meloche,
September 12 – November 9, 2013



Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle is an established artist, his work is also recognized and known as his strong connection and relationship between art and science/imagination. In this solo show, he built a wing, made by wood and rice paper. Pictures on the walls are some vague objects, shape similar to airplane but totally dark, can’t recognize it is a real one or a model. The eager of flying in the image echoes the wing hanging in the middle of the space. This show is based on a simple idea and with a harmonious rhythms. But in the same time I would wonder, this idea is on a vague boundary between simple and powerful, light and powerful. And another question might be his material choices. Since he always use high-end material, why he came back to this simple gesture. It’s obvious he had more rooms to play with it compare to a poor MFA student. We might admire his choice of back to basic material, but in the same time I’m curious about what made him this decision.

Oliver Sann, Exhibition / Studio visit

Oliver Sann, Exhibition / Studio visit 

Oliver Sann,
Open Studio Visit in MANA Contemporary
Dec, 10

Iceberg Project
Beate Geissler + Oliver Sann
September 14 – October 19, 2013




As an photo artist from Germany. Oliver’s images are recognizable with a strong german contemporary taste. Most of his works are actually done with him and his wife Beate Geissler. I’m invited to his studio after critique week. He shows his recent work and previous work and books. His major concern in his art making are based on the exploration of consumerism, capitalism and neo-liberalism. He examine the relationship between consumer and objects. After he moved to Chicago, he take photos about Chicago Stuck Exchange, which not only in a high challenge of get permission and also the challenge of bringing digital elements into visual language. He shared his idea, and he also shared his disappointment. Though contemporary world is not only build by visible object but also with invisible signals and information exchange, as a contemporary photo artist, he still keeps his eager of create meaning, or we can say examine existing object and world is a non-escapable responsibility. I’m curious and expecting what’s their new work.



Ben Kinmont Lecture

“Being & Power; or strategies for an alternative practice” 
lecture by Ben Kinmont
Nov 13, 6:00 p.m. Lecture,
Price Auditorium, The Art Institute of Chicago




In the beginning I don’t understand what I might get from the lecture. His statement about social sculpture and his job as a book dealer are both vague. But this talk was actually very rich and amazing. Grow up in an artist family, he is familiar with the process of art making and producing, his surrounding is actually an art school. This experience made him think about what is art making in mid 90’s. This question brought him to book making, by book making he explore artist’s idea and making. His approach in food is also quite amazing, he related chef and writer/thinker, develop the relationship between interpretation and consumable object(food) is inspiring. His studio and book store is situated LA, should be a must go place when passing by.

Scientific Illustration

Scientific Illustration
Show in Field museum and SAIC Library



Scientific illustration is a very specific tech, which embedded the power of narration in the way of using pen. Between human(painter) and the object(specimen), they have a long tern, solid The relationship. This relationship is construct by our pursuit to objective and reality. The consequence also reveals how science see painting. In scientific drawing, there’s no lines but dot, dots is the basic elements for observer to approach reality. Works are made by students in SAIC.  The relationship to how the process of art making being borrowed by other discipline is interesting and worth seeing.

Thomas Baumann, The Suburban

Mike Andrews & Thomas Baumann
The Suburban,
Oct. 20

Thomas Baumann

Thomas Baumann Thomas Baumann

I had a talk with Thomas later the day. His work always combines some motion tech, including light or simple mechanism. He always use movement to tell something. maybe related to his rope piece in renaissance society. The movement suggest an animal figure, here the wood and soft, aluminum stripe reveal the modern vehicle or a movement belong to recent idea of object. The broken clock is stable, but the missing part and the broken glass also pointed to an exist but not visible action.