From the street, you may think it’s hay. Grass. Something organic, harvested from right from the gallery floor. It streams out of the walls, tapering down into tail formation, filament-covered knolls flowing across the Chicago Arts District. The illusion, however, is short lived, and quickly the landscape shows itself for what it really is: paper. Tons upon tons of shredded paper, culled from a single address. During a residency at BauerLatoza Studio, artist Barbara Hashimoto collected staff members’ junk mail for one year, hand-shredding the unsolicited deliveries daily. The resulting roughage—all 3,000 cubic feet of it—became the primary medium for “Junk Mail,” which continues to evolve with each performance by Hashimoto and her guest artists. The message behind “Junk Mail” is obvious, but subtlety is not the point here. It seems that for all our “Inconvenient Truth”s and green marketing, it isn’t until we are slapped in the face with some tangible evidence of our eco-ignorance (say, 3,000 cubic feet of evidence) that society recognizes the true weight of their actions. Though “Junk Mail”’s performative elements are exhibited only on select dates, the sight of so much day-to-day waste collected in one place is a harrowingly effective wake-up call, even for those who think their eyes are already wide open. (Jaime Calder)
Through September 12 at Chicago Arts District, 2003 S. Halsted, (312) 738-8000.