The Gage Gallery’s latest offering is a searing and unsparing investigation of the desperate fates of the people from around the world who are suffering the gravest effects of the current and seemingly intractable global recession. Among the contributors to the exhibition, Khaled Hasan shows us the grinding and wasting life of the stone gatherers and stone crushers of Bangladesh whose health is ruined by their backbreaking and dangerous work; Tomasz Tomaszewski reveals the grim labor of coal miners and steel workers in Poland’s Upper Silesia region, whose jobs are vanishing by the day; and Shiho Fukada introduces us to the horrid and lonely lives of old and unconnected unemployed men who fill the streets of Osaka Japan’s “welfare town” neighborhood where they die unnoticed and unattended. Perhaps we can remain at a distance from those people, but we cannot avoid the wrenching grief that we feel when Michael McElroy shows us what transpires in the “An American Nightmare” of Howard Mallinger who has lost everything—we first encounter him comforting his wife through a chemo-therapy session, then see him break down in despair in his condo where his electricity has been shut off and which is about to be foreclosed, and finally witness him praying over his wife’s grave. This show is required viewing for everyone with any smidgeon of conscience and taste for truth. (Michael Weinstein)
Through December 31 at the Gage Gallery, Roosevelt University, 18 South Michigan.