“This Shadow is a Bit of Ideology” at Gallery 400 is a wide-ranging group show with ideological content that is also a bit shadowy. Several of the exhibition’s artists use overtly recognizable conceptual strategies, such as Shana Lutker’s serial drawings and etched mirrors, or Matt Hanner’s and Andrew Falkowski’s re-appropriated images of Napoleon, M.A.S.H. and Hogan’s Heroes. But is it politically relevant to know how Hogan’s Heroes shaped the national consciousness? Some bright spots include Karl Ericson’s yarn and mesh shag rug of Louis the XIV. The limply protruding yarn turns the divine right of kings into sensuous kitsch. Deborah Warner’s splattered AbEx parody and embroidered text painting, “monster appetites feed in private,” contains a possible reference to the CIA’s alleged role in promoting Abstract Expressionism abroad as pro-capitalist propaganda. Nearby, Jordan Wolfson’s untitled video shows a slow pan-out from the first Macintosh computer next to freeway with an appropriated narration about Abstract Expressionism as the first true “American art.” These ruminations on art and American-ness culminate in Dave McKenzie’s work, titled “Politics is the Art of Compromise.” McKenzie presents a lone veneered administrative desk with two organized stacks of paper sitting atop it. Each sheet is an acceptance letter for naturalization that has been heavily edited. Blank spaces remain where key words that reflect the values of the United States have been omitted just like so many individuals’ hopes for citizenship. (Dan Gunn)
Through January 24 at Gallery 400, 400 S. Peoria.
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