In Logan Square, the singed wreckage of a hot-air balloon has taken up nearly the whole of Hungryman Gallery. The wicker basket lies tilted on its side; wiry, skeletal remains of the envelope spring out at all angles, and, on the far wall, a single portrait of a severe gentleman pointing at a map all suggest the aftermath of a tragic journey. The scenic post cards, however, projected on a wall behind the balloon debris, tell of happier times, a story fleshed out in the narrative performed by the artist himself, Mathew Paul Jinks. Using the writing on the back of postcards from the 1960s, Jinks creates a fictionalized saga based on the one-sided conversations offered up by these vintage mementos. The raw materials of the wreckage—the sprawling brass, the stacked oak—reflect the stolid simplicity of their companion images, an effect made disturbing when paired with the personalization of the projections. There is a sense of incompletion within the installation, as though the artist, like his fictionalized subjects, never quite made it to his final destination. Fortunately for Jinks—or perhaps unfortunately, depending on the imaginative capabilities of his audience—the works hinge on their open-ended nature, similar to the voyeuristic possibilities found on Flickr or in Found magazine. Allowing his audience to draw their own conclusions, Jinks has created an intriguing installation that evokes the wonder of where our neighbors have been and where, if anywhere, they have gone. (Jaime Calder)
Through July 27 at HungryMan Gallery, 2135 N. Rockwell, (773)360-1208.