I spent Saturday afternoon back at the Hyde Park Art Center for their Fryvalry event, hosted by third annual fry daddies Philip von Zweck (local mover and shaker whose curated show at Western Exhibitions runs through to August 1st, 2009) and Kevin Jennings (local white, working class, straight male without a website). I came there late with bananas to fry, which was a lot like being the last person on a karaoke list wanting to sing Thriller. While I missed out on most dishes fried, highlights on the vegetarian side were fried green beans and okra, and on the meatatarian side the fried catfish was a clear standout. Also, someone double fried a quarter-pounder.
Leaving Hyde Park, the next stop on the art tour was all the way up in Bucktown where H. Mathis‘ goddamned beautiful Believe Inn space was hosting David Horviz‘s Impossible to See The Whole Thing at The Same Time. As the space is the front third of Sighn‘ studio (the middle third being a social space with curios packed with art and Golden Age literature for sale) there wasn’t a great deal of room to work with, but the perfectly clever stark painted-floor white-cube effect marked each zone for what it was and allowed the gallery space to function as more than spillover.
The show consisted of photo projects by Horvitz, many of which were distributed digitally along with instructions for recreation, which is itself an interesting reboot of an old conceptual hit and caused me to google Yoko Ono for the first time in years. The photographs themselves were deceptively clever, coming off at first as quick conceptual jokes but resonating like haiku. In How To Exit a Photograph, we see three images: the first shows Horvitz setting up a ladder in a field, the second shows him climbing the ladder, and the third shows the latter alone – with Horvitz assumed to have climbed out of the frame.
It reads like a three panel conceptual art cartoon, packed with questions and challenges about photography and photographer that could easily be air dropped as leaflets over countries without 20th century art history professors. As a bonus, the piece in its full resolution entirety is available for free download along with instructions to reproduce the piece.
The interaction between artist and viewer through some digital/tangible crossover medium is a hallmark of Horvitz’ wok. Other works in this instructional series include Walk in Sun (download it here) and an instance of his disposible camera project, which should send you to the nearest Walgreens immediately:
The impressive use of interactive media should by no means suggest that this spider work stands on those legs alone; David Horvitz is a real photographer who makes real photographs complete with eyes and heart and guts. In one corner, a slightly broken black view-master is installed with a image of Horvitz mother at a beach kinked between the stereo lenses. Beside it is a description of the event, telling in plain language how he and his mother stood at the beach for more than an hour in silence, him snapping photos and her staring at the ocean with her back to the camera. Its a quiet, emotional, intimate and excellent piece of art which doesn’t fuck around.
Skating so close to punch lines, Its Impossible to See The Whole Thing at The Same Time shows a deftness of concept that should make any artist jealous. Horvitz brings the poetry of conceptual photography into 2009 in a way that is both delicate and confident, dependant and inviting, and which can even make snapshot narratives worth paying attention to.
I give the show an:
David Horvitz’ Its Impossible to See The Whole Thing at The Same Time will run through to July 26th at Believe Inn, 2043 N Winchester.
Located on Michigan Avenue, Columbia College’s Museum of Contemporary Photography is one of the lucky institutions to be part of that great easternmost edge of the downtown, that decorative sea-wall which can be seen from the parks and water as the outer cliff which begins a city. You can cross the street and turn around and see Chicago. Its a perfect venue for a show about cities, and The Edge of Intent is all about cities.
That is, its a show about urban planning and cities, and how those two seemingly accordant ideas run into and against each other. To describe it a third time, here we see some creative ways of displaying the conflict between centrally generated urban possibilities and emergent urban realities. Its a classic human struggle between our individual nature (that of the artist, the single-point generator) and our group nature (that of the ant), which is of course a hopelessly intractable battle which must be fought forever and is my favorite and gives form to government agencies of white collar sisyphi and chaotic satellite photographs.
Most of the works here cheer for one side or the other, showing us direct reimaginings of recognizable cities or unusual, unplanned, or subverted portraits of familiar urban elements. The show is hung in complementary pairings, with a lot of proximal conversation between the works. David Maisel‘s Oblivion series, which shows highways slashing with alien precision through organically chaotic human neighborhoods, shares space with Dionisio Gonlzalez‘s Nova Heliopolis III, a gorgeous digital image of a Brazilian favela, modified here with modern architecture. The two works together present us with a clear statement of conflict between the two ways cities are built: centrally planned development and emergent, organic development.
The rest of the show then answers (or dodges) this thesis statement with a mix of absurdity and fascination.
Andrew Harrison’s (new) jersey collages, Danielle Roney’s eGoli video, and Liset Castillo‘s impossibly well crafted sandcastle cities all give us imaginative but ultimately dismissive responses. Harrison’s works in particular were frustratingly shallow as prints rather than original collages, lacking a hand-made element that would have shown more than a material interest in the subject matter.
More document than critique, Tim Long’s excellent kayak photography and Christina Seely‘s Metropolis series both take much more quiet, less concerned approaches to the city as a strange and sparking phenomenon. Simon Menner addresses the subversion of designed public spaces by the homeless or displaced, while Eric Smith‘s HDR photographs revel in the graffiti ruins of Detroit’s Michigan Central Station, both here showing the human element as the quiet opposition to a planner’s intentions. Smith’s photographs should be seen – they’re truly haunting, beautiful pictures of the urb-ex world’s eighth wonder and give a strange saturated glimpse into the past and the future.
The most constructive pieces in the show come from Joel Sternfeld, who offers not only beautiful images but also poses a way to profit from decrepit planned design by helping us imagine unused rail lines as intra-city raised walkways. Here we have imagination that is practical and intelligent and inspirational. Although its in the same room at the Maisel and Gonzalez pieces which form a thesis for the show, I’d return to it as a closing statement before heading out.
Though I enjoyed the exhibition, I’d say I expected more out of a show which addresses so directly (and academically) the problems that arise when of lots and lots of human beings live close to one another. Instead of more pieces like Sternfeld’s, the majority of the work hung restated the problem or pointed out how cool cities look when photographed at various distances. I am a fair-weather geek for this stuff though, so my expectations may have been more than the average fanboy art journalist. The photographs themselves were nearly all excellent (with a few mild exceptions) and the space is so beautiful that the Man wouldn’t let me photograph it, and its next to the Spertus which has that neat Deb Sokolow drawing so ah, go, but then go home, visit LongNow.org and watch these two videos.
I give it an:
8.1 (but it could have been better, really)
The Edge of Intent runs from May 1st, 2009 to July 5th, 2009 at Colombia College’s Museum of Contemporary Photography.
Filed under: Chicago
While following Proximity Magazine’s blurb about Chicago police trying to close up Lloyd Dobler Gallery (reportedly for sight compaints, disturbing pieces, and providing alcohol to minor artworld celebrities), I decided Christian Rieben’s work was pretty great. If you’re in Wisconsin you can swing by Stumptown Gallery until July 14th to see the work yourself.
Rumor is he’s teaching a painting class at College of Dupage this fall. Specific rumors indicate that class as ART-2222-001.
Make sure to see Assfixiated at Lloyd Dobler Gallery before the cops take it as evidence!
More of Christian Rieben’s work can be seen at his website.
Well, I had really wanted to get the artists and curator from 65Grand‘s new show Post Scarcity to record a little introductory puff piece, but I just couldn’t get a hold of them. Instead, I got a few of my little sister’s friends to read from a script I wrote.
If you’ve ever been to Rotofugi, you’ve seen Frank Kozik‘s toys. If you’re there right now, you’re seeing his paintings! The show, Hell Comes to Chicago, will be up at Rotofugi June 12th to June 30th, so check it out if you’re in the neighborhood.
I’ll let Frank himself explain the rest:
There are two shows going on right now at Tony Wight. Pop Sizzle Hum, a fairly small show of eerily similarly sized paintings in the main space, and Single Channels, a three-part video installation with work from Timothy Hutchings, Allison Schulnik, and Jacco Oliver, tucked away in the rear project space.
Pop Sizzle Hum was came off as very understated, with mild colors, quiet patterns, and gentle geometry in every work. The most confrontational painting, Judy Ledgerwood’s Honeypot, was still a beautiful painting before it could be anything else and Steven Husby’s Untitled (and awesome) diptych reminded me in its hard-lined mellowness of listening to a midtempo crowpop album from three rooms away. Pamela Fraser’s untitled (tearjerker) makes me wish the exit via sky really was just a right turn away.
With its primary insistance on greys and cools and geometric abstraction and pastels, Pop Sizzle Hum turns the Wight gallery into a kind of extremely well curated chillout tent, where you can rest your eyes, have a juicebox, and come down from your afternoon trip through the West Loop. Perfect last stop for your next crawl.
In the back room, Single Channels presents a rare treat: video art that is extremely well made, clever, and and beautiful. At least, Timothy Hutchings’ Battle of the Mass was a dazzling, highly enjoyable video and Allison Schulnik’s Hobo Clown showed claymation at its most painterly and Grizzly Bear soundtrackly. However you feel about Hobos or Clowns, Schulnik’s video is one of the finest things to see in Chicago right now. If you’re not in Chicago or are behind a corn wall, that link above points at the full length, high definition version. Great!
While it would have been a huge benefit to see them projected in HD, these two videos nonetheless departed so much from my common understanding of (and admitted prejudice against) video art in their highly appropriate and developed craft, their evasion of common video art tropes of shittiness and stupidity, and in their both being uniquely enjoyable experiences that I was nearly convinced that I had been wrong all along, or that a new leaf had been turned, and the breakthrough had occured without my notice.
Then Jacco Oliver’s Wood came on and grounded me.
Filed under: Chicago
Ohhhhhh, ha ha yay!
Check out more of Juan Uslé’s work at Cheim & Read.