In a madcap dance with the absurd, Jeff Mueller appropriates old black-and-white photographs, projects them on large light-sensitive canvases, surrounds his subjects with sketchy line drawings and then scrawls texts across his images that often dissolve into illegibility and set up an implosion of meaning. In the most straightforward of Mueller’s convoluted photo-works, the base image is a group of wholesome smiling people, the line drawing depicts an agonized face and the text reads, “sex makes me cry.” Mueller’s message is the dadaist directive to stop making sense. What can we make of a mottled print of a listing boat sprouting green lines with passing resemblance to masts that is overlaid by an unintelligible plea or complaint by a lover to his significant other whom we suspect that he believes might have misunderstood him? (Michael Weinstein)
Jeff Mueller shows at Peter Miller Gallery, 118 North Peoria, (312)951-1700, through November 24.