7:30 to 10:30 on September 17, 2016
7:30 to 10:30 on September 17, 2016
At Roots & Cultrure from September 9 to October 8, 2016.
Spectacular Vernacular is a solo exhibition by the design studio Parsons & Charlesworth, founded by British husband and wife Tim Parsons and Jessica Charlesworth in 2014 after years of informal collaboration.
On view at the Chicago Cultural Center from September 10, 2016 to January 17, 2017.
Nestled on the third floor in a tall sea foam green colored building in the West Loop is Document; a primarily photography based gallery paired with a print studio. Within the same building are two separate galleries, Volume and Western Exhibitions, which causes the space to feel close knit and communal. Established in 2011 by Aron Gent, Document has organized more than thirty solo exhibitions as it seeks to support and advocate for emerging artists, from helping artists print their shows, to giving them an intimate space to show their latest works.
Currently on view from November 11 to December 23, 2016, is Sara Greenberger Rafferty’s show, Dead Jokes. Exhibiting widely since 2001, Rafferty is a Brooklyn-based artist who teaches full time at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachussetts. Rafferty’s work has appeared in exhibitions and shows including MoMA PS1, the Jewish Museum, the Whitney Biennial, the Hammer Biennial, the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, and the Gagosian Gallery. Her latest work, Dead Jokes, consists of small-scale multi-media photographs drawn from Rafferty’s personal archive. Comprising of one-of-a-kind images, Dead Jokes is printed on colored Plexiglas, where Rafferty has applied various polymers to distort and alter the original forms, The images range from feminine-esque figures to screen shot images of various aspects of internet culture. Between motif references and formal aesthetics, Dead Jokes is self-described as never accidental; a twisting of the contemporary aspects of photography, gender, and mainstream culture.
Petcoke: Tracing Dirty Energy
Featuring work by Marissa Lee Benedit and David Rueter, Rosalinda Borcila, Terry Evans, Geissler/Sann, Brian Holmes, Claire Pentecost, Steve Rowell, and Victoria Sambunaris.
July 21, 2016 to October 9, 2016
At the entrance of Moholy-Nagy: Future Present is a dimly lit entrance, a setting that quietly echoes the contemplation that frames the artist’s works. As with all major exhibitions, the show begins with a brief background of the artist; with phrases that embody and reflect a man of exemplary philanthropy, scholar, and visionary. Coincidentally, this description mirrors the language much like that of the philosophies of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s, with the personalized touch of context with mentions of constructivism and Eastern European histories of the Bauhauss.
The exhibition is curated chronologically, with each new area focusing specifically on a different medium, such as oil on untreated canvas, photograms and photomontages, letterpress, cinema, and plexigas works. Within the realms of a curatorial critique, this seemed to somewhat simplify Moholy-Nagy’s work in a way that is reductive instead of additive of the initial statement at the entryway of the exhibition. Repeatedly, I found that descriptions of a group of works were placed in counterintuitive spots in relation to the group that they were supposed to supply commentary for.
Aside from the domain of curatorial critique, the works that I took the most interest in were ones that embodied or contrasted the initial quotations from Moholy-Nagy, “Art must be matched to its moment” and “The illiterate of the future will be ignorant not of writing but photography”. In relation to the first quote, is the contextual considerations of Moholy-Nagy living in several industrial cities in Europe during the rise of Nazism. His earliest paintings include several oils on untreated burlap, the first titled Radio and Railway Landscape, 1919/1920 and the second Tilled Fields Painting, 1920/21. Both pieces depict a type of abstraction of the factory and mechanized immersive lifestyle that Moholy-Nagy was growing a part of.
A separate series that seemed to politically situate itself within the realm of what is considered art and the attitudes that surrounded much of Eastern Europe, were the three enamel paintings, Construction in Enamel One, Construction in Enamel Two, and Construction in Enamel Three. I particularly favored these pieces in how they were exactly the same, except for size, and they seemed to defy all that was considered a painting. In many ways, it could be argued that this was a confrontation to “sameness,” or an attitude that was evidently promoted by eugenics in Germany in WWII.
Lastly, I focused on a group of photographs which seemed to transcend its medium and the distance of time, and featured images shot from the top of the Berlin Radio Tower. According to the curatorial text, Moholy-Nagy’s intention was that “claiming an idea was not as important as communicating it”. At the time, 1928-1929, the tower was new to the city and was an exciting advancement of public technology and infrastructure. What I appreciate most about these images is the perspective from the top down; a metaphor that seems to demonstrate not only Moholy-Nagy’s fondness for the Berlin Radio Tower as a spectacle, but that his view seems to conquer it as such a spectacle. Such a conquest through vision seems to parallel the attitudes of industry, to embrace new advancements in technology, while simultaneously challenging for new ones.
Written by Cassie Kise
It began with an ordinary dull moment, scrolling mindlessly through my Facebook feed–a pause in the downwards motion of my thumb. I stopped and skimmed over a friend’s check-in at Mana Contemporary Chicago. Pictured was my friend, Anna, arms-deep in a mammoth amount of foam. Alongside the image a caption reads, “just had a wonderful day of working on the lovely Sabina Ott’s piece for EXPO chicago!” The entire scene looked rather outlandish and Anna looked like a little kid posing for her Mom–and as dorkish as it felt, I also wanted to be knee deep in the embrace of an absurd amount of foam. I emailed Anna, and was able to get in contact with Sabina and help with her EXPO install.
A couple weeks later, I found myself lost on Navy Pier, surrounded by the same tourism ethnoscape that exists along travel destination waterfronts throughout the U.S. Sabina had instructed that I meet her at “entrance b,” which seemed unlikely to exist in the same realm as Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Giordano’s. Eventually, I saw her outside, flailing in her arms in the same fashion that my grandmother does when we drive away from her home each summer.
I entered the convention center and Sabina led me upstairs to check-in. I received a florescent yellow name tag indicating that I was part of the Wednesday set-up crew. People scurried in and out of the convention center; speaking in a plethora of languages, and in a range of emotions. Many were wearing black pants, white shirts, with their iPhones glued to their ears as they hurried about; navigating around other individuals on power lifts, pushing carts, and wearing white gloves for handling precious cargo. It felt like living within Andreas Gursky’s photographs of the New York Stock Exchange.
A thought occurred to me as I watched the scene unveil before me; that many artists and visitors that attend EXPO every year critique EXPO for feeling like a garage sale, or a marketplace instead of focusing upon the art. Yet, after witnessing the energy and logistics of the set-up and the context of the Pier, it seemed as if it could not function as anything but a place of exchange.
After checking in, we tracked down some black coffee in small white paper cups, and I was introduced to others who were helping to complete the finishing touches. These individuals were folks that install shows in various parts of the city and they were busy running extension cords across the top of the sculpture, searching for remotes and Windex, sweeping up debris, and other silly odds-and-ends jobs that seem symbiotic with any small business. I ended up with one of the most crucial and banal tasks of all; scrubbing foam off the floor.
One of the wonderful aspects about having to do monotonous task is that it allows for a ton of time to focus on a subject. So while I wore the sponge to bits, I thought about the facade of the event in relevancy to the effort that is put forth to create such an event. As I felt myself trying to flush through my personal sentiments on the subject, Sabina would unknowingly pull me away from this inner dialogue of theory, asking if I needed more coffee, or a new sponge, and where I had learned to clean so well. I laughed, and answered “my mother”, tabling my seriousness and built-in critique mind set.
I ended up making it to the last couple hours on the Sunday of EXPO weekend. It was jarring, in the difference of energy, and in the contrast to my experiences of EXPO years prior. The involvement I had had with Sabina and the community of construction seemed to melt away the unapproachability of work I had felt during prior shows. In past years, I had felt the frustrations of balancing ideologies of how art should be versus commercial production and sales. Now it seemed out of necessity–in the realm of the Art Fair at least–that they must be one and the same, shattering a belief system priorly held. After such involvement, it seems that now I cannot help but lend my critique not of the specific works on view, but on the system that has been created to house such pieces of cultural commodity.