“Texttexttext” at Woman Made Gallery is a cogent and self-conscious group exhibition that effectively engages notions of language as ever-changing, the battle between public and private social spheres, and the presence of a self-consciousness that is so prevalent in our age of selfies, tweets and Facebook postings. The artists in this show work from these starting points to ponder the transparency of the twenty-first century using a neo-dadaist humor and a deep awareness of our world.
Briar Craig’s “Gluten-Free Poetry” and Sandra Doore’s “Grammar I (LOL)” and “Grammar II (HEY)” are exercises in the absurdity of modern colloquialisms and how rife for play they can be. Illustrating the ubiquity of these eponymous phrases, both artists use humor to explore abstractions like “gluten-free poetry” or acronyms in neon like “LOL.” Both artists illustrate how language is a kind of fractured imagery while also making up a new vernacular.
Upon first glance, Kathryn Shinko’s “Dirty Sampler” looks like a kitschy and innocent embroidered doily, but in the middle of the flowery border, a naughty message plucked from a private text message is stitched into place, conjuring thoughts of sexting and the precariousness of privacy. Stark irony is part of the media here just as it is in popular “stitch-n-bitch” circles.
While century-long traditions of text experienced a resurgence with message-based political and conceptual projects in the 1970s and eighties, the artworks assembled here aim to reflect its desensitizing overuse in popular culture today while interpersonal communication continues to shorten into fewer and fewer characters. These artists manage to eke out a few laughs despite the gravity of the issues expressed, such as surveillance, archiving and plagiarism. (Carrie McGath)
Through August 21 at Woman Made Gallery, 685 North Milwaukee.