Artropolis, with five art-related fairs running contiguously this weekend at The Merchandise Mart and hundreds of related events on-site and around town, is a colossus. We asked our critics to pick a few easy-to-overlook highlights.
Ready-to-Wear Collections, Fall/Winter 08/09 Trend Overview
As we are (finally) experiencing the first taste of spring, even the most weathered Chicagoans are apt to cringe at the notion of looking forward to fall. To do so is almost an admission of defeat—that we do not get to savor the joy of finally packing away our coats and scarves and enjoying our city as it begins to emerge from winter’s deep freeze. Fashion, however, operates on a remarkably less sentimental time schedule. Spring lines hit the runways before the first snowflakes strike the ground, fall lines before we have been assured that winter is actually over.
In case you missed the fall/winter 08/09 runway shows, not all is lost. Fashion Group International of Chicago, Inc., lead by FGI Creative Director Mary Lou Luther, is giving a trend overview of ready-to-wear fashions. This presentation will take the form of a “close-up and high-fidelity video presentation” that promises to be a concise overview of what is hot and what is not in apparel, accessories, beauty products, color and fabrics. (Kristin Brockman)
At the Next Talk Shop, Merchandise Mart 7th floor, on Sunday, April 27 at 1pm.
Around the Coyote’s Video Lounge curated by LiveBox
With the rise of Internet culture, some critics have speculated that video art is a dying medium. There is no doubt that technology has made the medium more democratic, and it is almost impossible to buy a computer without a video camera built in (a fact that becomes quite apparent when one searches for even the most banal subjects on YouTube). With technology readily available at little cost, there have been an increasing number of artists and comparatively less galleries.
The Artist Project seeks to present the work of unrepresented artists to the community. A small part of this program, Around the Coyote’s Video Lounge, curated by LiveBox Gallery, Inc., focuses on video work by young artists, seeking to combat the notion that video is seeing its decline.
The program consists of recent work by a handful of artists: Julia Oldham, Robyn Voshardt and Sven Humphrey, Tim Geers, Fabienne Gautier, Blake Carrington, Chie Yamayoshi, Pierre St. Jacques, Ellen Lake, Christopher Bruchansky, Elizabeth Riley and Marlo Bodzick. Tackling topics ranging from the performance of mating dances to United States’ involvement in the Middle East, the work shown here intends to present a cross-section of video art you haven’t seen. Kristin Brockman)
Preview night April 24, continues through April 28, The Artist Project, Merchandise Mart, 8th Floor.
Temporary Public Sculpture Park
In an effort to democratize Art Chicago, whose main event carries a hefty one-day fee of $20, this year’s organizers have put together a temporary public sculpture exhibit for the plebes on the first floor of the Mart and outside along its perimeter. This is a felicitous decision for a city whose fondness for public works of art is indicated by affectionate nicknames like The Bean (Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate”), Da Picasso and Snoopy in a Blender (Jean Dubuffet’s “Monument with Standing Beast”). The artist Jaume Plensa—of Millennium Park’s Crown Fountain fame, arguably the most democratic artwork in the city—will welcome the crowds with “Sho,” an enormous steel-mesh head located in the lobby. The selection continues with a number of large abstract forms, including a recent example of John McCracken’s irresistible “2001” monoliths; Sophia Vari’s soft bronze geometry; and local talent Josh Graber’s “Emanate,” an aluminum meditation on the confluence of industrial materials and organic patterns. Three massive Botero sculptures begin a populist, figurative theme that continues in the work of Dietrich Kling, whose bronze figure of a seated man evokes the texture of rough-hewn wood and an uncertain, problematic interest in primitivism. Despite the predominantly safe choices, there are several conceptually driven pieces that push the boundaries of medium specificity: Manuel Neri’s nude “Mujer Pegada” (Woman Hit) manages to be both a bronze sculpture and an abstract expressionist painting with layers of splattered paint tossed against the female body, a physical materialization of Barbara Kruger’s famous feminist summary of the violence of looking, “Your Gaze Hits the Side of My Face.” Alan Rath has created one of his signature “machine-beings” in the conceptual installation, “Voyeur III,” an anthropomorphic video sculpture whose monitor “eyes” register not only the anxiety of surveillance, but the ambivalence of our increasingly undifferentiated relation to technology and electronics. The exhibit is a gratifying antidote to the exclusivity of preview parties and private collections, but it raises broader questions about the city’s propensity .panem et circenses. (Rachel Furnari)
Merchandise Mart, 1st floor and perimeter.
Artropolis runs at The Merchandise Mart Friday-Monday