Two video installations currently at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago place the viewer within images and their history, and demand we look at them differently.
CHICAGO — When he studied art history in the 1970s in Los Angeles, Kerry James Marshall was struck by the absence of black artists in the “canon.”
CHICAGO — Three major exhibitions devoted to Pop art that opened last year broadened the purview of this movement as a primarily Western (American) phenomenon by unearthing lesser-known artists to provide a global view of art in the 1960s and ‘70s.
CHICAGO — This is not really a review of the exhibition David Bowie Is.
CHICAGO — Invented in 2011, Zachary Cahill’s USSA 2012 began as a one-off joke, a half-sketched theoretical future where America was reshaped as a socialist nation.
The Hairy Who is not the backing band of the Austrian pop singer Conchita Wurst. Still, it’s hard to believe the members of the Hairy Who, one of several coteries of artists who came together in the 1960s–1970s under the broader moniker of the Chicago Imagists, would not have celebrated this transgender performer, not so much because she won the Eurovision song contest last weekend or because she is biologically a he, but because, along with voluptuous hair, long lashes and sequined robes, Conchita has a beard.
CHICAGO — The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s Warhol and Marisol focuses on the conversational nature of artworks produced by artists Andy Warhol and Marisol Escobar, who got to know each other in the 1960s.
CHICAGO — Amanda Ross-Ho’s giant gray mannequin head is a neosurrealist’s dream come true. Resting comfortably in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, it looks as if caught in preparation for use in a Man Ray photogram. Ross-Ho’s site-specific installation THE CHARACTER AND SHAPE OF ILLUMINATED THINGS calls upon the history of photography while also looking to the future of an internet world where anyone, anywhere, can snap a picture with their smartphone camera and show it to the universe.
CHICAGO — Theaster Gates’s installation 13th Ballad at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) continues his investigation of art objects and social activism, which started in 2009 with the redevelopment of derelict houses in a South Chicago neighborhood, and which he took to a national stage at the 2010 Whitney Biennial, and then an international platform at Documenta 13 (in 2012) in Germany. Gates undoubtedly deserves the current recognition in his hometown, but the exhibition at the MCA is only partially successful as a showcase for his work.
CHICAGO — Tavi Gevinson took the ACT exam the same day she took the stage at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s Edlis Neeson Theater, joining old family friend and LA-based filmmaker Jonah Ansell to discuss their latest collaboration, “Cadaver.” In this animated short film, Ansell and Gevinson marry a playful macabre — think Edward Gorey, Tim Burton — with the voice of Tavi, a mature, old-souled 17-year-old girl. The event felt more like a family affair than anything, with Ansell and Gevinson often bringing up subject matter linked to Oak Park, where they both grew up.