A collision has never been as quiet as that found at DOVA Temporary this winter. “Dr Wax captures the big and small machines for the enjoyment of the people” is an exercise in repurposing cultural materials by both musicians and conceptual artists alike. The precision and depth of the contextual elements belies the distant black and white of the works on view. Joseph Grigely’s “Songs Without Words” shows us sound so that we might experience it (and ourselves) differently. Here, Grigely is a relevant instance of the exhibition’s dynamic—or what I feel compelled to call dialectical—use of sound and image to crack open something with so much insight that it’s jarring.
Much of the show’s impact comes in the form of historical consciousness aroused by artists such as Sun Ra, Steve Reich, and the entire album “Fear of a Black Planet.” If these are somewhat more accessible ruptures, they give way to the beautiful process of Matt Saunders’ hand-drawn negatives, now eerily and forever linked with some catastrophic understanding of the twentieth century.
Although it is not explicitly presented as a curatorial endeavor, a curatorial persona is born in the title of the exhibition, and an astute nod to the role of the curator exists in the suggestion that the recordings available for aural in-take have been selected from the nearby Dr. Wax Records. It bears mentioning, then, that the artist and University of Chicago faculty member Geof Oppenheimer has provided this Pierian Spring. Drink deep. (Tim Ridlen)
Through January 24 at DOVA Temporary, 5228 S. Harper Ave. Performance on January 16, 6pm-9pm