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Review: From a Position/Evanston Art Center

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“From a Position,” like Russian nesting dolls, begins with a single question that leads to another, then another, and so on. Initially questioning the relationship between a piece of art and its subject, the viewer is encouraged to further contemplate artworks’ relationship to the gallery space, other artworks and the position of self-as-viewer.

The exhibition’s relationships are the actual focus; the show’s strength comes less from the individual power of the pieces and more from their play with one another, the gallery and the viewer. Pieces that don’t “play” with others aren’t as compelling; two drawings by Lucy McKenzie, presenting figures without settings, appear detached from the show (in part due to their placement) and retreat rather than engage. The gallery’s four separate areas reinforce the separation and unification of specific pieces. Upon entering, viewers are blocked by Jason Loebs’ “Barricade.” This translucent plexiglass barricade decorated with barricade-centric articles, forces viewers to alter their entry into the galleries. Other pieces are far subtler in manipulating the gallery environment. The syncopated beats in “Nevercage,” a sound piece by Heather Guertin and Zak Prekop, are so slow that, without a visual component, viewers may initially mistake the sounds as belonging to the building’s old pipes. (Or perhaps credit it to the metal facets in Valerie Snobeck’s installation, which is successfully undifferentiated from the gallery space—appropriate for a show that questions context.) The show’s other works, more clearly defined from the gallery surroundings, may also be read as both subjects and backgrounds. Though this twofold reading of artwork is not exclusive to this exhibition, the old Evanston Art Center manse as a venue certainly heightens the effect more than a white cube could. (Patrice Connelly)

Through June 28 at the Evanston Art Center, 2603 Sheridan Rd., Evanston

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