Does postmodern photography, drenched in irony and fascination with culture at the expense of flesh, bring anything to the table as political artists begin to play their hands in earnest? The five photo-artists in this political show strive mightily to break through the confines of cultural criticism with varied success. Krista Wortendyke does the best by mixing lush color photographs based on appropriated images from movies, video games and newspapers in suites and assemblages depicting striking battle scenes and magnificent explosions, creating a garish romance of war that shows us how we have been seduced into ignoring the unpleasant realities of carnage. Second place goes to Sonja Thomsen’s iridescent bubbly color studies of crude oil that show the aesthetic side of what the world is fighting over and remind us—again with the postmodern staple of absence—that we should stop and smell the gasoline. Wortendyke’s and Thomsen’s images do not cut to the quick, but they prepare us to make the stab. (Michael Weinstein)
Through October 18 at David Weinberg Gallery, 300 West Superior, (312)529-5090.