Novelist Italo Calvino once said, “I believe that fables are true.” Printmaker Damon Locks and furniture designer Eve Fineman appear to take this as a guiding principle in their show at Heaven Gallery, “The Invisible City.” Like Calvino’s novel of a similar title, the works in this show project imagined cities and the things that might fill them. Locks, the frontman for the band the Eternals, has created digital prints, silkscreens and relief prints that play with two sides of “invisibility,” depicting neglected urban spaces, overlooked perspectives and marginalized people, while also envisioning cities not yet visible. Some of his images recombine elements of Chicago, putting train tracks, buildings and buses in new and provocative relations. Locks’ printing process gives these pieces the scabrous texture of cracking brick and concrete, while the hues—in everything from faded walls and smudged “newsprint” to supersaturated skies—endow them with an aura of nostalgia for things to come. From desolate to populous, disconsolate to euphoric, the cityscapes and inhabitants imagined here provoke questions about race, urban planning, and socioeconomic disparity, all oriented around a hope summed up in the words emblazoned on one print: “Tomorrow starts today.”
Like Locks, Fineman sometimes refashions preexisting materials, creating furniture in a mode that challenges conventional approaches to production and planned obsolescence. The pieces on display at Heaven are part of her prototypical “Interstice” series of multifunctional furniture. Made of biodegradable, reused, or indefinitely reusable materials like bamboo plywood, eco-resin, and wool felt, this furniture is composed of components designed for easy recombination, making pieces usable in varying interior spaces. They are clever, subversive and conceptually interesting, but also versatile, warm and attractive—as suitable for a lived-in home as they are for contemplation in the gallery. To be sure, both Fineman and Locks are concerned with envisioning habitable spaces. And though these artists work in very different idioms, “Invisible Cities” coheres around a shared sensibility. At once critical and constructive, the art of Locks and Fineman brings history, politics and embodiment into the crafting of fables for a city yet to come—fabrications in all the right senses. (Jeremy Biles)
Heaven Gallery, 1550 N. Milwaukee Ave.