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Review: Death + Extinction Via Polaroids/Chicago Art Department

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“Death” comes in myriad forms, as is made plain by the twelve photographers—six from Chicago and six from New York—who give us suites of Polaroid images in this tight conceptual show, inspired by the demise of instant-print technology. Among the memento mori here are Brett Ryan’s decommissioned and derelict prison, Gina Mauro’s relatives who have passed away and appropriated images dredged up from garage sales to which Anthony Vizzari has appended stories that he made up about their subjects, giving them lives they never had—perhaps the ultimate death. The most intriguing take on Thanatos is curators Nicole Kenney’s and K.S. Rives’ project of taking headshots of anyone they can seduce and having their prey write beneath their “portraits” their answers to the question: “What do you want to do before you die?” A study in democratic existentialism, Kenney’s and Rives’ ever-expanding grid is an acid test of authenticity that most of their subjects fail, with exceptions like the young man who writes, “I want to LIVE.” (Michael Weinstein)

Through August 31 at the Chicago Art Department, 1837 South Halsted, (312)226-8601.

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