“Without You I am Nothing” features print work from both Chicago and Rhode Island artists. The viewers’ interaction with the artwork and with other visitors is integral to all the interactive pieces on display, so the exhibition is also an exercise in “relational aesthetics,” a fancy term for the radical idea that it’s okay to talk to someone else about art.
The tone of the work on view ranges from playful to serious: there’s an art-inflected game as well as a screen-printed chart for the only Vatican-approved birth control, the complicated and unreliable Natural Rhythm Method. “And We Built a City Together” (2009), by Meg Turner and Andrew Oesch, requires the viewer to participate in constructing the actual work itself. You are presented with a bag of stickers of buildings and other urban accoutrement like trees that you then place onto a gallery wall that has the bare outlines of streets on it. Think “The Sims” or “SimCity.” I found this a little facile at first, but how a citizen constructs their world is vitally important. This was clinched when I noticed that on one of the sticker graveyards someone had penciled in “CPS” which could either indicate the schoolchildren killed this year (another shameful record), or the state of the school system itself.
Those who believe that Art is only oil-on-canvas-and-frames will most likely be disappointed, but as the exhibition text states, “satisfaction need not be guaranteed each viewer.” (Abraham Ritchie)
Through April 25 at Green Lantern Gallery, 1511 N. Milwaukee.