by Monica LaBelle
(Kathryn's note: this review was written when the show was still open.)
It's a little-known fact that anyone can access the tucked-away student galleries of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
And why might it be worth doing so?
Because young artists are likely to find one of the least-restrictive exhibition experiences of their young careers when they show here.
With no pressure from dealers, gallerists or buyers, student artists can use schools' gallery spaces to truly experiment. Two worthwhile shows are on view now through Saturday, October 2, at two of SAIC's student spaces: LG and GX.
In LG, there is "Stutter, Interrupt," by SAIC student Katie Waugh. This multi-screen video installation is mesmerizing in its examination of gesture, repetition and context. It only uses footage from C-Span 3.
Several screens ranging from palm-sized to giant-sized line the walls of this tiny gallery. Each screen captures and distorts presentations of official-looking meetings of mostly white men in suits. Waugh transforms the content by muting and slicing it. There is a Rorschach-blot-style image of men and women, apparently listening to speeches in the original format. Now they appear to be gazing at their own images, with mildly pensive looks on their faces. On another screen, we see a comical set of gestures piled onto one another: a man scratching near his eye, another one scraping something out of his ear, and so on--all while in suit and tie, not knowing their innocuous tick has earned them a close-up in an art gallery.
Across the way, in a school building adjacent to the Art Institute itself, is GX space, which is hosting "Anatomy is Destiny," by SAIC student Liliya Lifanova. This is a positively spooky and well-crafted installation. It consists of a life-sized chessboard with costumes for rooks, knights, bishops, kings and queens at either end. The costumes are suspended in the air by strings, giving the appearance that they are worn by invisible people. This vision alone is not spooky--it's the cumulative effect completed by the frayed, hardware-decked material and the way the installation fills the entire, black-painted room.
These clothing items are more innovative and eye-catching than anything from this year's New York fashion week. Made of a burlap-like, half-cotton, half-linen fabric fastened with nickel-plated buttons, grommets, hooks and the like, the outfits look like haute couture for medieval asylum captives (but with stylin' epaulets and cowl- and boat- neck structures). Details indicating power and placement among the ranks of chess figures are evident. For example, all characters but the king and queen have sleeves that cover their hands (rendering them powerless)--hence the title of the show, "Anatomy is Destiny."
It's worth checking out before it closes. Here are directions to each space:
1.) "Stutter, Interrupt" at LG: This is located in SAIC's Sharp Building, 37 S. Wabash Ave., in room 220. Enter the building on the Wabash Avenue side and stop at the security desk to tell them you want to see the exhibition. They'll take your picture, and then you can take the stairs or elevator to the second floor. Look for a big, pink wall. The gallery is behind it. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays by appointment. Call 312-899-5131 for information.
"Anatomy is Destiny" at GX: This gallery is located in the school's Columbus Building, located directly south of the Art Institute of Chicago. Enter through the big glass doors at this building's address: 280 S. Columbus Drive. Tell the security guard at the desk you are there to see GX space, and he or she will take your picture. Hang an immediate right and walk down a long hallway. At the end of the hallway to the right is the gallery. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 312-899-5131 for information.