Author Archives: zoeywan

Visited The Bahá’í House of Worship last week

IMG_6114.JPGI’ve heard about this place for a while, but I’ve never actually paid a visit to here.

Last week I drove to the House of Worship with my friends. We were really surprised that this special place exists here in Chicago within 45min-long driving distance. There are only 7 Houses of worship in the world. Each one occupies a continent, and the one I visited is the North American location. Really amazing architecture.

Although I am a member of this belief, I do appreciated its ideology and kindness. The custodian here is a really nice old lady. She told me that they don’t place their architectures in positions like ‘temple’, ‘mosque’ or ‘church’. The Bahai believers want to show their diversity as well as unity, so their locations go by ‘House of Worship’. Whoever has god in their mind could worship here at the house. Even for those who don’t have a belief, they could still stay here for meditation.

Here’s the link of the Bahai House of Worship in case you want to know more about this belief:

Classical Music Concert @ Heaven Gallery// 7:30 pm, January 2nd

For the third consecutive year, join McKenna Glorioso and friends at Heaven Gallery for a concert of chamber music following the busy holiday season. Repertoire will include works by Dvorak, Vaughan-Williams, Piazzolla, Beethoven, and more. $10 suggested donation at the door.15578325_1332371096786535_6016341094913693839_o


Two discoveries around the city yesterday

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Temporary Highs: A New Media Circus


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Curated by Lindsay Howard, the new media project Temporary Highs contains nine video pieces, and screened at the Gene Siskel Film Center. The video pieces are embedded with multiple visual perspectives and different social, emotional aspects. The various elements provided a large amount of information for the audience to process.

After the entire screening I was trying to figure out if there was a specific order or sequence exist among these videos: what kind of flow Lindsay Howard wanted to presented to us as a curator? However, I don’t feel like I have a clear answer for it. One thing I caught on was how the videos were screened from very personal and private contents, then gradually blew up to public and socially engaged reflections.

Personally I was not drawn by the first two or three pieces in the case of content. I thought they were too personal to ask the audience for reactions. But I do think it is very interesting to just consider this fact — that the new media art (specifically internet based) is very self-guided and filtered. Whoever understands would understand. There is no need of common sense or general understanding on internet, because this virtual platform is open for any connections to any individual. It could get as specific or even as subtle as possible. Although Lindsay mentioned in her talk that people’s “ability to connect with each other is becoming more and more superficial”, it is reasonable that we want this kind of irresponsible dimension to express and abreact.

The most powerful piece was definitely the last one —American Reflexxx, directed by Alli Coates and starring Signe Pierce. According to the introduction published on the website  (Links to an external site.)of this film, it is a short documentary that presents a terrifying journey of the actress Signe Pierce whose face was covered by a mirror-finish mask while walking through the tourist gathering commercial street in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. During the entire shooting process, the director (also the cameraman) did not communicate with the performer in a single word. All the actions and behaviors of the pedestrians in this film were real and were not interfered with acting element. It was extremely disturbing and almost outraged to see the revealing of this ugliness. The performer covered her face and made her identity anonymous triggered the mob to become recklessly curious. People kept questioning the performer’s gender, and without any eye contact and response they were stirred up to be even more excited. It was also scary but revealing to see that the kids and teenagers were actually the group of people who behaved the most brutally. Another reflection in my mind was also related to internet environment. Becoming faceless and anonymous means you could either be vulnerable or inhumane. This film was provoking, and makes me disgusted. However it was not a surprise to see how morality could easily collapse. This social experiment presented us a cruel reality as well as a cold fact.

It was quite interesting and worth thinking to actually watch these videos pieces in different formats on a theater-standard large screen in a totally dark space, and as a serious audience. Is new media artwork “site-specific” in a virtual way? I remember there were one of two pieces that was originally web-based, but breaking away from the internet and showing this video in a off-line situation makes me feel like there is something lost in the content. It is fairly strange for me to sit there still to watch these videos in an arranged order all the way through. The resolution, format, theme or even approach of each video are different. It was a lot to process.



Exhibition Review: Moholy-Nagy: Future Present


Written by Zoey Wan

      Moholy-Nagy:Future Present is an retrospective exhibition of László Moholy-Nagy, the pioneer of modern design and industrial art. This exhibition includes over 300 works of Moholy had created within various kinds of mediums. From painting to sculpture; personal creation to publications; and from experimental works to commercial commission…

      This wide range of collection is curated in both chronological and categorized flow. The first section of the exhibition is majorly displaying Moholy early paintings that indicate his dedication in experimenting and constructing the optical structures that reflect the “modern eyes”of his generation. The gallery interior of this section is rather plain, which in a way echoes with the simplicity and rationality of Moholy’s creation. Although this exhibition has the intention to emphasize Moholy’s life and creation in the United States, the first section really lost a sense of direction. I personally found myself having a hard time getting my mind into this exhibition when I entered the gallery. It’s more like I just cut through the exhibition in a sudden. I was considering for people who probably know Moholy — but not that much — might have a similar experience as I had.

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      The second section starts to show Moholy’s personality further. Self-awareness and sentimental elements are hardly found in Moholy’s works. He was motivated to make his work not personal-related, and more accessible in understanding as well as design ideology. However, the Photomontage collection stands out quite uniquely. These collages and edits of photo-clips interact playfully with the negative space. This series of work reveals the part of Moholy’s thinking and interest, as well as the humor in his personality. I really enjoyed looking at the collages, and I was also seeing how this smart playing of images still deeply influencing contemporary graphic design especially in magazine layout and composition.

      Starting from the Room of the Present, I finally felt like I’m stepping into not only just a collection of Moholy-Nagy, but also an ideology presentation of him. The chronological pathway of this exhibition help me to observe better on the changing concept and design aesthetics in Moholy’s works and how they were corresponding the technology of the time. I can see the multimedia practice had been thoroughly adopted by Moholy, and he started to apply this practice to almost every aspects of his design. From installation, theatre and interior design, to a little piece of paper form; Moholy truly realized the idea that art and design should run parallel with the technology, and aesthetics should not be confined by class and tradition. The variety of the displaying objects, projects and artworks assembled an exciting scene of the progression in applied art and design. Looking around the final section of the exhibition, I noticed by the time Moholy moved to Chicago, he started to adopt more organic elements into his work. This is an evidence of Moholy’s pursuit of industrial development.

      This exhibition shows me how Moholy brought his art ideology from Europe to America. I also observed that how Moholy and Bauhaus school influenced the modern applied design of the West. It is very interesting to see the distinctions in modern aesthetics between the East and West. This thinking of the different design logic and aesthetics in industrial, infrastructure and many other daily objects under different cultural framework actually interests me a lot. But that would be another complicated and worth-digging topic.




I went to this show two weeks ago I think it was very interesting. Unfortunately this show has ended. It was held by Heaven Gallery in Wicker Park which I formerly worked at.

Here’s the exhibition introduction:

Wicker Park says goodbye to its colorful history from the Lumpen Buddy days, to the Around the Coyote art fair and now the Double Door.Everything Must Go! reflects the selling of our neighborhood and with it our art and culture. This new wave of corporate colonization is being felt all over the city with Google’s tech boom in the West loop, displacing artists and galleries.

Historically Wicker Park was home to artists. By the late 70’s artists that were gentrified out of Old Town and Lincoln Park began settling there in large numbers. As more artists came they began to transform loft space into livable studios, storefronts became galleries, music venues, coffee shops, and bars. Roberto Lopez a native and long time superintendent of the Flat Iron Building  said “Wicker Park wasn’t just a place, it was a state of mind.” At it’s peak was Around the Coyote that began in September of 1990, this art fair changed the cultural landscape by drawing tens of thousands of visitors–and hundreds of thousands of dollars–to the community. A victim of its own success, this new bohemia attracted economic investment. The neighborhood feared yuppies and  “Lincoln Parkization.” They recalled how the visual arts industry created a real estate boom on Manhattan’s lower east side, that ended in the Tompkins Square anti-gentrification uprising of 1988. The community feared that Wicker Park’s unique ethnic and artistic diversity was at risk and that its growing popularity would lead to their displacement. “Anytime a community is discovered, the indigenous population is forced out and the new colonizers reap the benefits.” Theories of gentrification indicate that capital follows culture and identify artists as the main agents for gentrifying working class neighborhoods. Whatever pandered to the “commodification of the artist’s lifestyle in the service of a real estate market” was fair game for protest wrote the Lumpen Times in the mid 90’s. Back then anti-gentrification groups and radical neighborhood activists printed flyers and used guerrilla tactics. They sabotaged businesses by gluing their doors shut, breaking windows, and spray painting “The Natives Are Restless” and “Gentrafux”. Many people fought to keep the neighborhood but as time went on one by one they all left. The nail in the coffin came in 2012 when Wicker Park was featured by Forbes as one of the 5 hippest neighborhoods in the U.S.

Everything Must Go! speaks of the loss of authenticity and to a new era of political passiveness where people are carried by the wave. Over the past 15 years many artist and independent businesses have been priced out of Wicker Park. Heaven gallery that was established in 1998 in the Flat Iron building and in its current location for the past 16 years is one of the last stands that reflect the spirit of the old neighborhood.

Claire Molek and Heaven Gallery invite galleries and curators to rummage through works they have on hand, as a celebration of unique producers, and recalls the collective histories and togetherness of artist neighborhoods and street art fairs. Intersecting the boundaries between a clearance sale and an art fair, the exhibition further explores the magic of unknowable context, and what it means to encourage practice over product, or product over practice.


Me Wondering Around Expo Chicago

Written by Zoey Wan

I attended Expo Chicago on Saturday because I wanted to hear the talk held between the SAIC professor Joseph Grigley and the well-known curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. So I’m going to talk about this conversation and the Expo in general.

The Conversation:

I don’t want to make a judgement of whether this event was executed well or not, since I’m not a professional critic and I feel like I just came for the talk. I’m definitely interested in the topics Joseph and Hans were mentioned in their conversation.  I’m not very familiar with both of them, but I know briefly about Hans for few years. I followed his Instagram and have seen his posts of the handwritten notes (The Art of Handwritingproject) for a while. It is lucky to hear that Hans expanded this conversation based on his project, and also introduced another archiving project of his own collections that professor Grigley is currently working on at SAIC.


They brought up this idea of the crisis of handwriting which I’m also aware of all the time. I remember they talked about how handwriting indicated evidences and features that reflect the actual personality of the individual that the digitized typing would never be able to copy (or not yet). The action, and performative essence in handwriting is a form of art that many people are ignoring. Hans defined things such as the fade away of handwriting as the the disappearing cultural phenomenons. The disappearance which caused by multiple facts like the development of technology, the colonialism, etc. There were also discussions about the method of archiving and the practices of the exhibitions. The predicament of both physical and digital archives, and what on earth is the condition of an exhibitions (what defines an exhibition, what space should an exhibition happen).

I find the topics and ideas Joseph and Hans were talking about were the very grounded matters that should always be brought up at the first place, but yet easily overlooked later on.

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The Expo:

I didn’t go through the entire conference hall, or didn’t pay that much careful attention. I did find few interesting works as always, and I did find the uneasy feelings of this environment, as always. I feel like I have this bizarre double-minded thinking process in my brain. On the one hand I feel distracted to be here because when I found a work I’m interested in, t seems like I’m not supposed to express my interest due to my poor financial condition. Money was the biggest word hanging around my mind, so on the other hand I really do wish I’m just a rich buyer who has all these market-fitted codes of manners that could at least gain me a little vanity.

Picture1.pngHowever, I enjoy observing the art market, and want to get in deeper. I’ve always been thinking the meaning of art and its relationship to us in person. When we were young, what our education taught us was “art” is a beautiful thing that touches everyone, and is for anyone. Then we grow up being more and more distant to art, or even being confused by art (especially the contemporary, which coexist with us at the moment). When I went through all these art market events, what I feel was the strong detachment between art education and the art economy. So I was wondering what makes art so special? And what makes art so secular?