By Jason Foumberg
As the fall art season opens this weekend, Newcity is tracking some trends in the local art scene.
Chit-Chat: Artists Want to Talk with You
A visit to the Smart Museum of Art typically begins at the visitor information desk, and twice a month, through June 2014, visitors may find themselves at another sort of information desk. Exit the contemporary art galleries and you might find Matt Austin, a photographer and bookmaker, sitting in a cubicle, waiting for you. The conversationalist wants to talk with you about “your unique qualities as a person,” which he’ll jot down in a book-in-progress about his year-long run as the museum’s Interpreter in Residence. In return, he asks that you grab a sharp knife and carve something, anything into his wood desk. September 5, 10am-5 pm. Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 5550 South Greenwood.
It’s a simple pleasure, and an act of affection, to read aloud to someone in bed. Artist and educator Jorge Lucero will read theoretical texts to you from Alberto Aguilar’s bed in the MCA’s “Homebodies” exhibition. September 6 and 7, 10am-6pm. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 East Chicago.
The artist is in town to co-teach a yearlong course at SAIC called Thing Lab, which teaches how to meld sculpture and design. Zittel, of course, is a leader on that front, having founded A–Z West, a full lifestyle campaign in California’s Joshua Tree desert. “we think we know what it means to be free.” She gives a lecture on Monday, September 9 at 6pm. Art Institute of Chicago, Rubloff Auditorium, 230 South Columbus.
Total Immersion: Installations and Participations
A group of about twenty-five makers from Santa Fe are Meow Wolf. For the past three weeks they have been creating a “one-off, site-specific immersive multimedia installation,” as Corvas Brinkerhoff calls it, in Thomas Robertello Gallery. Titled “Nucleotide,” it is inspired by the shapes of undersea coral. Brinkerhoff calls the interactive sculpture a “massive brain” in which “it is hard to predict what will happen.” This is the Meow Wolf’s collective first exhibition in Chicago. For them, every show is one-of-a-kind, and an “amalgamation of our collective consciousness.” Opening reception: September 6, 6pm-8pm. Thomas Robertello Gallery, 27 North Morgan.
Curator Michael Hall returns to Chicago (he ran the Chicago Project Room in Wicker Park in the mid-1990s, then moved the operation to LA and then Vienna) with a changeable exhibition concept. The show is additive, so expect the opening to be a clean group show of four artists (including Heimo Zobernig, who is “super-well-known in Europe,” says Hall). By the end, after three rotations, six weeks and eleven artists, the gallery will be crowded and loud. Although many of the artists are from Vienna, Hall says the Austrian city’s art scene is “just like Chicago”—without an identifiable style. He hopes to “give a snapshot of what’s going on in Vienna.” Opening reception: Friday, September 6, 5pm–7pm. Gallery 400, UIC, 400 South Peoria.
Station to Station
Think of this as an art carnival or a participatory spectacle. A train is loaded up with Ryan Trecartin videos, Carsten Höller sculptures, Thurston Moore and Theaster Gates, and it pulls in to Union Station for what is billed as a “nomadic Happening” dreamed up by the multimedia artist Doug Aitken. Tickets are $25 and support non-profit cultural foundations. Tuesday, September 10, 6:30pm-11pm. Union Station, 225 South Canal.
New Media: Virtual Reality Is Now!
Artist Alfredo Salazar-Caro dreams of a digital utopia in which code is poetry, artists are avatars, and there is no divide between real and fake. He curated “Technoromanticism” to align some tendencies in new media art, from the old guard (Paul Hertz, who has been working since the sixties) to the future (LaTurbo Avedon, an avatar artist whose flesh-and-blood identity is unknown). Salazar-Caro is also curator of a new initiative called the Digital Museum of Digital Art. If you, too, are in love with computers, join him. Opening reception: September 6, 5:30pm-7:30pm. Jean Albano Gallery, 215 West Superior.
The artist debuts an eleven-minute video, titled “Otherkin,” about post-, neo- and non-humans (or, rather, humans that self-identify as such). Otherkin communities are largely formed online, although the concept of the hybrid human being is also relevant to queer and trans identities. Naka locates the greatest and strangest expression of otherkin in virtual spaces, especially ones experienced through a screen. “These days everyone is obsessed with death,” says one of the video’s characters, and the mood permeates the artwork. Opening reception: Sunday, September 8, 2pm-5pm. Julius Caesar, 3311 West Carroll.