Author Archives: cassiekise

Review of Kemang Wa Lehulere at the AIC


As you enter Kemang Wa Lehulere’s In All My Wildest Dreams within the Modern Wing of the Art Institute, one can not help but feel a sense of awe as a chalk etched nostalgic pencil sharpener seems to jump out from the initial wall. The particular piece, When I can’t laugh I can’t write, is a telling example of Kemang’s work; a wonderful moment of intersection between humor, ingenious craft, and historical influences. Below the piece, lay various ceramic dogs, some intact, others shattered and scattered around classic looking suitcases full of grass laden sod.

On view from October 28, 2016 to January 16, 2017, In All My Wildest Dreams, features South African artist Kemang Wa Lehulere’s work. Interested in confronting the past histories of South Africa’s relationship to apartheid, Wa Lehulere’s work seeks to reenact the “deleted scenes” from the country’s history. Such manifestations are made in a variety of mediums; from wood and food objects, to video, chalk, and performance, with each piece correlating histories of class, race, and displacement.

Originally, I was exposed to this Wa Lehulere’s work through Rhoda Rosen’s art history course, Contemporary Cartography. Thanks to Rhoda Rosen, who is also from South Africa, I had the lucky privilege of experiencing the work through the eyes of both her and Kate Nesin, the associate curator in the department of Modern and Contemporary Art. As Nesin guided us around the show, it became increasingly obvious that very little backstory and context was given to the viewer, generating a conversation on how a curator balances such a paradigm. Items such as One is too many, a thousand will never be enough, have incredibly detailed backstories that have not been made particularly public in the exhibition. Constructed from old school desks, a fake parrot, and accompanying audio from found tapes of how-to have an American accent, Nesin soon allowed us further into the work by providing backstory. The piece originally used the tension between the tapes and the school desks as a way to generate a conversation on education, access, and privileged dialects. Yet, the difference between the original idea and the piece at the Art Institute is that originally it featured a live parrot. When Wa Lehulere was first constructing the One is too many, a thousand will never be enough, he would play the tapes nonstop to his parrot, in hopes that bird would begin to mimic the dialects of the directed American sound. Yet, as time went by, he found that the bird had no interest in such artificial language, and instead was infatuated by those who were within his studio. As Wa Lehulere began to digest this result, he considered what it would mean for the bird was to pick up such a dialect, only to be left alone in a gallery overseas without any intimate or known contact. Ultimately, Wa Lehulere abandoned the idea, yet the backstory is as telling as the piece itself.


Such insight from Nesin pushes my own considerations of how much information should be supplied to the viewer; that in an era of growing data and searchability, it is reasonable to expect viewers to investigate the work that they look at? Or rather that with such an infinite amount of information available that it becomes even more so crucial to provide direct information and relevant contexts? Yet, such questions seem to reconvene with the original scope of Wa Lehulere’s aims; to reconstruct the deleted scenes of South Africa’s past, a past that when reincarnated may not be so clear to those that did not experience it.

Caroline Claflin and Noel Fetting-Smith at Comfort Station

Between December 3, 2016 and January 1, 2017, check out Caroline Claflin and Noel Fetting-Smith’s show, More than a feeling, at Comfort Station in Logan Square.

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Steve Reber at Devening Projects

From October 30 to December 17, 2016 check out Steve Reber’s copy, fax… cut and paste at Devening Projects.

First Annual Chicago Printers Guild Fair at Elastic Arts

From 12-8pm on Saturday, November 19th is the First Annual Chicago Printers Guild Fair at Elastic Arts, featuring over thirty six artists:

Duncan Dempster, Katie Chung, Ryan Kapp, Alexandra Blom, Alexandrea Pataky, Anna Hasseltine, Bobby Sims, Clay Hickson, Daniel MacAdam, Daniel Mellis, Deborah Lader, Elke Claus, Ethan D’Ercole, Gabe Hoare, Gabriela Vasquez, Hiroshi Ariyama, Jay Ryan, Jeff Kehoe, Jessica Caponigro, Jim Lloyd, Josh Dannin, Julio Avila , Liz Born, Mat Daly, Nadine Nakanishi, Nick Butcher, Rachelle Hill, Raeleen Kao, Raychel Steinbach, Ryan Duggan, Susannah Hera, Tabor Shiles, Teresa James, Todd Irwin, Tom Burtonwood, Walker Kampf-Lassin, Zachary Hobbs, Nick Ferreira


Luis Miguel Bendaña at Efrain Lopez Gallery

Opening on Friday, December 9, 2016 for Luis Miguel Bendaña’s Putrid Garden. Show runs from December 9, 2016 to January 7, 2017.Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 7.04.39 PM.png

Hamza Walker: The Crisis of Representation as Illustrated with Plants and Flowers at Fernway Gallery

Opening from 7-10pm on December 9, 2016. Show runs December 9, 2016 to January 21, 2017.

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Open Studios in the live/work space at LVL3 (DIY)

An open studios in the space below LVL3 on September 25, 2016.


UIC MFA Open Studios

UIC MFA Open Studios from 6-10pm on Thursday, November 10, 2016.


Kirsten Donovan & Irene Trujillio Opening at Friendzone Window (DIY)

Opening from 6-9pm on Saturday, December 10, 2016 for the show Author Person Only, by Kirsten Donovan and Irene Trujillio.

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Real (good) time at Elastic Arts on 12/7

Audio and video performances by the realtime class at SAIC, starting at 7:00pm on Wednesday, December 7. Includes work from:

Elana Adler
Dalton Carter
Nick Davis
Nathaniel Gillette
Stefan Glowacki
Joe Houlberg
John Kasarda
Lawrence Xavier Pearson
Julia Pello
Iryne Roh
Emily Sasmor
Ming Tao
Rachael Thiel
Falak Vasa
Wan Zheng