Chicago’s premier celebrity photographer, Marc Hauser, excels at set-ups that amp-up the distinctive attitudes of his subjects, often embedding them in striking backgrounds. In his latest series of large-format color images, the context has invaded the skin in the form of elaborate tattoos that cover the subjects’ bodies. This presents a problem: Do we lose ourselves in the labyrinthine tattoos, or are we drawn to their bearers, whom Hauser has posed and presented so that they are as attractive as can be? It is impossible to have both visual experiences at once, so the only solution is to adopt each approach in turn, and then repeat the process, getting two pictures for the viewing of one. Take the nude young woman caught kneeling from behind who sports an illustrated map of the country of Burundi inscribed on her back; we are at first forced to hone in on the involved graphic, but then we catch sight of its living medium and abandon fascination with culture for the seductive flesh. (Michael Weinstein)
Through February 23 at Schneider Gallery, 230 West Superior
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