In news that will surprise no one, the opening day of Expo Chicago was still reliably the best place to witness outrageous art world social posturing, unintentional relational aesthetics and the cultural phenomenon of taking photos of things with an iPad. Everyone was dressed to buy, judge or party (if you’re unsure which camp they fall in, check the shoes) and many booths practiced outright selfie-baiting, ensuring high exposure on local social networks (file that under brilliant marketing techniques.)
When you visit, pay attention to the color-coded signs delineating the gallery caste system. EXPOSURE (turquoise signage) features young/emerging galleries. Non-profit presented SPECIAL EXHIBITIONS (indicated by a purple sign) line the border of the space. Predictably, it is generally within these confines that newer, more challenging works are featured. So, make like my mom tells me to do at the grocery store and stick to the perimeter. The large-scale installations featured as part of the IN/SITU program are also fun, although I could do without another year of worshipping under the Studio Gang turbine.
Tricia Van Eck of 6018NORTH has once again organized a Utopian sanctuary on the second floor. If you feel art-overwhelmed, retreat upstairs to the multi-chambered party lounge featuring stellar installations by Steve Atkins, Nelly Agassi and Lise Haller Baggesen, among others. Dance off your art woes to a soundtrack of activism jams in Baggesen’s disco and be sure to pick up a copy of her much-buzzed about new book “Mothernism.” (Erin Toale)