Susan Aurinko. “Je suis cy envoiee de par Dieu, le roi du ciel”
Joan of Arc. Who was Joan of Arc, the teenage Christian visionary who led armies against the English invaders of France in the fifteenth century, and was killed by them at the age of nineteen in 1431? There are no images of her from the time she lived, but there are statues and figurines representing her made over the succeeding centuries. In a photographic quest driven by a sense of connection to the remarkable heroine, Susan Aurinko has sought out those objects and shot them as portraits, each one expressing a different mood, but all of them unified by what Tammy Kohl, who has enriched the exhibit by her jewelry referencing Joan’s time, calls “strength.” Read the rest of this entry »
“Milshire SRO Blanket,” fleece blanket printed with original photography and memorial statement, 80″ x 60.” Part of Amie Sell’s “Home Sweet Home” project that was removed from MAAF without her consent.
This year’s Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival (MAAF) became a site for controversy when Amie Sell’s site-specific installation dealing with affordable housing and displacement through neighborhood development was taken down without the artist’s consent the day the show was meant to open. In a thorough account on Sell’s website, she states that it was Mark Fishman, a real estate developer who owns the building in which her work was to be shown, who was responsible for shutting down the exhibition. Fishman is directly criticized in “Home Sweet Home,” the ongoing project Sell intended to exhibit, and also sits on the I Am Logan Square board, the nonprofit organization that sponsors MAAF along with other cultural events and career development opportunities for artists.
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“Alexandra,” black-and-white archival inkjet print on metal
On a mission of social enlightenment, Andy Karol’s project “Eden: Expressions in Gender” seeks to create a photographic “human space” by taking small-format black-and-white “fine art nude portraits” in wooded areas around Chicago. The people depicted represent all conceivable variations on gender identity, and there are many more of those than the uninitiated might think. Read the rest of this entry »
“Barrier #111,” archival digital print from a scanned negative
An exceptional practitioner of modernist straight photography, Paul Clark has relentlessly pursued the project of intensifying the black-and-white abstraction for the last twenty years. At each stage of his journey of exploration, Clark’s abstractions have become more dense and complex, with new elements and more challenging problems resulting in some of the richest and most compact images in contemporary photography. Read the rest of this entry »
Ariane Littman. “The Olive Tree,” video (still), 2012
This group exhibition of contemporary artworks from around the globe focuses on the way humans have engaged with the potent longevity of trees to establish borders and identity. The forests in many of the works are both witness and collaborator to mass violent acts; the trees become sinister national monuments.
Andreas Rutkauskas’ “Cutline” photo series shows a straight path through the wilderness between Canada and Vermont. The clear swath cut through the forest evokes an interminable road to nowhere, remote and isolated, yet manicured to perfection. Steven Rowell’s photographs of the Brandenburg forest reveal ruins of Nazi and Soviet camps, mining operations, and nuclear waste storage facilities. Many of the documentary images in “Encounters” expose how the use of trees as natural barriers manufactures the natural and conceals power. Read the rest of this entry »
Hyounsang Yoo. “The Celebration,” 2013
Each year, the Museum of Contemporary Photography awards the Snider Prize to one MFA candidate in their final year of study at an accredited program in the United States. The entire MoCP staff participates in the selection process, including their graduate and undergraduate interns, part-time employees and research fellows. This year, Hyounsang Yoo has received the award.
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“Daffodil House, Greendale, Wisconsin,” archival pigment print, 2009
Shooting in lucid color and adopting a no-nonsense straight-on documentary approach in his project “New Deal Utopias,” Jason Reblando has taken contemporary photographs of the three Greenbelt Towns—Greenbelt, Maryland; Greenhills, Ohio; and Greendale, Wisconsin—that were planned, built and owned by the federal government in the early years of the Franklin Roosevelt administration in order to “resettle” unemployed American families in pleasant community environments during the Great Depression. Their original residents were chosen to reflect social diversity (though not racial), and they were laid out to encourage neighborliness. The towns represented progressivism at its cutting edge, and the movement that inspired them had lost its momentum by the mid-1930s, a victim of political pragmatism. By the 1950s, the government had divested itself of the towns, but they have continued to exist as parts of burgeoning suburban landscapes. Read the rest of this entry »
Frida Kahlo. “Arbol de la Esperanza (Tree of Hope),” 1946
Reprising two of the paintings that appeared in Frida Kahlo’s solo exhibition at the MCA in 1978 (her first in the United States), “Unbound” presents Kahlo as a political activist and art world transgressor who laid the foundation for many discourses that continue in the practices of more than thirty contemporary artists in the exhibition. Curators Julie Rodrigues Widholm and Abigail Winograd look beyond Kahlo’s celebrity status and tumultuous personal life to illuminate her artistic output as indicative of a preemptive concern for cultural issues including globalization, feminism and civil rights. Themed around treatments of bodies as both political entities and affective forces, Kahlo is here contextualized by artists of color, women and LGBTQ perspectives who boldly comment on the performance of gender as well as oppressions and injustices such as homophobia, violence against women and the AIDS epidemic. Read the rest of this entry »
“Fond Memories,” photographic images, oil, narrative text, and resin on wood panel
In “A Likely Story,” an ingenious visual commentary on the continuities and ruptures of past and present, Sherry Karver has produced composite photographs of crowds of people in public places divided into color depictions of mostly young contemporary people and black-and-white appropriated takes of individuals from decades ago shot in the same spaces. Through the offices of the computer, Karver’s scenes are constructed digitally and seamlessly with the figures from the past, usually in the background, serving as a ghostly chorus appearing to comment on today’s on-the-go cell-phoned streets whose urbanites pursue business and leisure activities just as we are used to seeing them do and even do ourselves. Read the rest of this entry »
“Oskar Werner,” archival pigment print, 2014
I was reading a little Judith Butler this week, and her ideas about the difference between expression and performance came back to me when I was thinking about Thomas Roach’s photographic work at Document. When I parse the five photos, I don’t come up with anything expressive. Roach’s images—technically, silver gelatin and archival pigment prints—are produced by placing a small television tuned to daytime programming and New Wave cinema on a flatbed scanner. They show spaces, text and a face that are broken along vertical lines, squeezed and interrupted by the oscillations of analog and digital information. The images have that remote, bloodless, mediated quality which characterizes so much art whose subjects are the processes and technologies of reproduction. When I learn from a gloss that Roach has produced thousands of these images, it is clear that whatever the images might represent, it is the process or the performance that is significant. The obsessive futile aphasiac activity that produced the five works on display is the meaning itself, despite the stylishly printed, two-thousand-word accompanying essay that name-drops a lot of influences and visual art allusions. Read the rest of this entry »