Yet another conceptual photographer festooning the walls of Chicago galleries in defiance of the holiday spirit, Polish-born Ursula Sokolowska presents a grim reflection on her troubled childhood in color shots of mannequins representing herself placed in real-world environments that she associates with her past. Always poignant and never cracking even the faintest smile, Sokolowska’s surrogate expresses a narrow gamut of emotions ranging from stoical despondency through wary suspicion to outright fright as she stands alone on street corners, plods sadly across rubble-filled lots and lies sleeping in bed with pursed lips betokening the cruelest dreams. In the show’s emblematic image, Sokolowska’s proxy has been consigned to a dank basement where she stands lugubriously with her arm around a child mannequin who exudes even deeper pathos. (Michael Weinstein)
Ursula Sokolowska shows at Schneider Gallery, 230 West Superior, (312)988-4033, through December 30, 2006.