“Hanging on the railcars/Of this iron beast/Migrants go as cattle/To the slaughterhouse,” singer Eddie Ganz croons in “La Bestia,” a popular corrido ballad played on Central American radio. The song is meant to discourage people from migrating to the United States, which makes sense considering it was commissioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This piece of contemporary propaganda is a perfect example of the subjects taken up by the work in “Northern Triangle,” a Threewalls-organized exhibition by the Texas-based Borderland Collective hosted at Rational Park. [Read more…]
The parameters of what counts as a map are surprisingly hard to draw. From medieval Islamic star maps to contemporary adventures in Geographic Information Systems, “maps” encode a variety of different information sets as well as figuring radically divergent relationships between user, maker and world. Courttney Cooper renders Cincinnati’s urban fabric with furious intensity, plotting the personal onto the public. This small show at Intuit is an excellent opportunity to see recent work by one of Cincinnati’s most important contemporary artists. [Read more…]
William Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at age sixty-two. Later self-portraits show us a man who seems awkward, confused and progressively isolated from the world around him. In fact, isolation seems to be the primary theme of all his work, beginning with a bug-eyed self portrait done thirty years earlier.
This exhibit focuses primarily on “living and struggling with dementia,” as gallery signage puts it. Since they anticipate the frozen masks that his self-portraits will later become, several examples from his Mummers series (1958-1970) are included. Growing up in Philadelphia, the artist was fascinated by this holiday parade of colorful clowns. Despite their expressive antics, the all-male, all-white, working-class participants feel grimly trapped in their costumes. Does the artist admire or abhor them? Is it a story that he can tell? [Read more…]
This exhibition reminds us that freedom is conditional, that one’s guidance comes from the communities that one is born into and that structural inequality shapes one’s access to opportunities. It shares the experiences and perspectives of those who are imprisoned at the Stateville Prison through self-portraits, sound recordings and animations. It was organized by the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project (P+NAP), a collective of artists and scholars who have been running semester-long workshops of arts and humanities programs with men in Stateville Prison in Crest Hill, Illinois since 2010.
By Ruslana Lichtzier
I enjoy thinking about the structure of the museum as a mixtape. Within an expanded taste, different exhibitions are organized with loose connections in an evolving tempo, hopefully with a mutual understanding regarding the role of the institution. Back in the day, mixtapes were a tool of courting; in making one, the mixtape-maker demonstrated how cool they were, how broad, complex, versatile and surprising was their taste. The danger was, and still is, in them exposing themselves as being…well, not cool.
In “Double Take,” Newcity Art commissions two or more critics to consider a single topic or exhibition in order to offer multiple perspectives on complex, timely matters in Chicago’s visual arts.
Crafting an image of oneself for the public world is a fact of daily life. [Read more…]