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EXPO CHICAGO/2014
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FEBRUARY // IN REVIEW


 

CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS // THE PRODUCTION LINE OF HAPPINESS
by Alexandra Kadlec

A cutaway dissection of a Nikon camera; a cluster of dewy bright red apples; a close-up of a Death Feigning Beetle on its back. These are a few of the composed images within Christopher Williams: the Production Line of Happiness, currently on view at the Art Institute of Chicago. Derived from a line in a 1967 Jean-Luc Godard documentary, in which an amateur filmmaker compares his daily job as a factory worker with his hobby of editing his films of the Swiss countryside as “the production line of happiness” – the title’s meaning here is transferred upon the role of photography in consumer culture today. 
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PROFILE OF THE ARTIST // NORA SCHULTZ
by Hiba Ali

In the Renaissance Society’s current exhibition of Nora Schultz, parrottree – building for bigger than real, the extendable and retractable poles of tripods construct a type of second architecture for the space. Sounds of birds commingle with traces of the Peregrine Falcon and monk parakeets. Presented in collaboration with Andy Ortmann, the audio installation is outputted at various volumes through different speakers throughout the entire gallery. The walls and floors are laid bare. While built specifically for the space, this is not Schultz’s first use of tripods as the main component of the work. The initial installation manifested at an exhibition entitled Stative auf der Flucht/ The tripod’s escape at Isabella Bortolozzi Galerie recently on view in Berlin, which opened in December of 2013.
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LIFELIKE // PHOENIX ART MUSEUM 
by Sarah Hamilton

Deceptive and delicate, Lifelike keeps visitors on their toes. Currently on view at the Phoenix Art Museum, it is the kind of exhibition that, at first glance, might cause you to blow it off. “Andy Warhol’s brillo boxes? Again?” But much like the work it features, Lifelikedeceives expectations.  The show features works from artists from the 1960s onward – most notably Andy Warhol, quickly moving into the contemporary period by way of Chuck Close, Ai Wei Wei, and Jud Nelson. What visitors of all kinds will enjoy is the variety in the gallery. Painting, sculpture, installation, and video are all given equal treatment. The show also does an excellent job of putting some well-known works and artists next to others who may be more obscure, for instance Chuck Close’s Big Self-Portraitis placed next to a Ron Mueck sculpture of a little boy crouched in a corner.
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THE WAY OF THE SHOVEL, PT II // MCA CHICAGO
by Ruslana Lichtzier

The Way Of The Shovel is an enticing exhibition for the curious mind. Part one of this review focused on the archeological attitudes the show is built upon, and the dialectic relationship between art and scholastic practices. The attempt to trace this major current movement in art – the interdisciplinary, hyper-intellectualized, attention to research-based practices is formed, naturally, on the grid of historical and archeological disciplines. Through this approach, it collides both practices, of art and theory, deteriorates the pace of academic steadiness, and exposes it to effective fictions and speculations.
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PROFILE OF THE ARTIST // HANK WILLIS THOMAS
by Hiba Ali

At its core, the work of Hank Willis Thomas asks his viewers to observe how mass media constructs the myth of race and identity. In his multi-venue exhibition, currently on view Cleveland, Ohio, is his entire early major series, the 82-part photographs within Unbranded: Reflections in Black Corporate America, 1968–2008, on display within the Cleveland Museum of Art’s photography galleries. The self-titled exhibition, which opened in October of last year, was recently joined in mid-December by the collaborative 5-screen video installation occupying the majority of the Transformer Station, in Question Bridge: Black Males, by Thomas, Chris Johnson, Bayete Ross Smith, and Kamal Sinclair.
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CRANBROOK ART MUSEUM // DRAWING AND THINKING AS PROCESS
by Alexandra Kadlec

Drawing is often perceived as the beginning of an expression, as well as the culmination of a concept, a message, and a story. It may also be the precursor to, the draft of, a finished product; we imagine the artist that first sketches the scene that will become the painting.

In the exhibition My Brain Is In My Inkstand: Drawing as Thinking and Process, currently on view at the Cranbrook Art Museum, viewers are invited to dig deeper into the discipline of drawing – to understand it as evidence of a space where thought and action overlap, and continuously unfold into processes, rather than two distinct stages of completion.
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Image up top: Christopher Williams, Kodak Three Point Reflection Guide, © 1968, Eastman Kodak Company, 1968, (Meiko laughing), Vancouver, B.C., April 6, 2005, 2005. Glenstone; © Christopher Williams. Courtesy of the artist; David Zwirner, New York/London; and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne.

CAA COVERAGE // 2014
 

This year, the College Art Association Conference came to Chicago, February 12-15. THE SEEN was there to report.

 

THE DELINQUENT CURATOR
by Stephanie Cristello

We begin with the provocative question: has the curator failed contemporary art? This is the topic of The Delinquent Curator, a panel at the CAA Conference that took place yesterday morning. It is perhaps better phrased as: has the curator failed to better contextualize and present what it means to be contemporary anymore than other institutional figures in the the art world? 
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THE MYTH OF PARTICIPATION
by Tara Plath

The College Art Association’s Friday morning panel, The Myth of Participation and the Growing Realities of Critical Exchange, brought together artists, scholars, and educators to evaluate the relationship between artist and audience, and the importance of site and objects in participatory art practices. The speakers did not achieve a debunking or confirming of “Myth,” but instead problematized the oversimplified approaches to social practice in contemporary art, and the role of the participant in these actions.
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EXPO CHICAGO GUIDE // WHITNEY BIENNIAL WEEK

The Whitney Biennial has a stronger Chicago presence this year than any other year in the past.

> Read our guide to the Whitney/Armory week here
 
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For more information about EXPO CHICAGO/2014
visit www.expochicago.com