You’ll have to tell the elevator man to stop on the fifth floor, but that novelty, in itself, might be reason enough to stop by Deirdre A. Fox’s installation at Finestra Art Space, located in the Fine Arts Building.
In the installation, Fox explores a formula: integration = form + concept + context. The equation’s solution is Fox’s exhibition, “To Locate Again: establish or lay out in a new place.” Here, Fox has reimagined the Finestra Art Space as a museum display case. She reappropriates, recontextualizes and redeploys artifact-based art-historical drawings from sources as varied as the fourteenth-century Middle East to the fire hydrant outside the Auditorium Theater.
Small, transparent, animal or hydrant-shaped colored plastic cutouts line the walls. There are printed transparencies and stenciled works, too. Lines traced in numbered pins are there to “upend” our expectations about meaningful classification (but the handwritten signs reveal the historical and authoritative sources of the shapes, just in case). Sometimes, the animals appear to burst off the wall into three dimensions, or else the cutout shapes look like they’re diving back into the two dimensions of the drawn world. And these are where the installation locates its most compelling moments.
But since all equations are thought of as problems, it may be instructive to look at the exhibition as an answer, and as one that suggests a kind of equal value or interchangeability to art’s abstract building blocks. “To Relocate Again” aims for integration. But stripped of its calculus and reduced to an answer, the exhibition doesn’t feel like it adds up to the sum of its parts. The logic of “To Locate Again”—that is, the logic of relocation—deflects questions about meaning to viewers. It’s as if someone has reworked an algebra problem without uncovering the value of X. (Ian Epstein)
Through August 30 at Finestra Art Space, Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan.