Tan Wee Lit’s show of sculpture is an engaging complement to Jenny Holzer’s massive PROTECT PROTECT exhibition. Both artists deal with official state means of representation—monuments, memos, presentations—but whereas Holzer uses these forms to create awareness of the power relations in political communication, Tan Wee Lit uses the monument as a symbol of power and gifts them to the powerless. Here nine white glazed ceramic figurines stand spot-lit atop white marble bases each with the name of a missing person, their birth-date and their date of disappearance inlaid in gold. These ghostly monuments to lost people give little indication of their former selves except for job-specific clothing, i.e. a frocked priest or a ruffled flamenco dancer. Tan Wee Lit specifically groups together both criminals and non-criminals thereby broadening his missing persons category. There is a generosity to the gesture of giving lost persons an object to represent them that is unfortunately betrayed by their small scale and handmade quality. The foot-tall figures aren’t rendered in enough detail to empathize with them as individual people, rather their folk-art look symbolizes their lost status more akin to the impromptu memorials at the scene of a fatal car or bicycle accident, instead of being redemptive emblems of their inclusion back into society. (Dan Gunn)
Through December 28 at Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave.