Second day of an incredibly busy art viewing weekend. This was probably the best night of the weekend, specifically because of New Capital and the Stimac piece they had on display, but more on that in a minute. This was definitely the night of the alt.space/apartment gallery. We hit up: New Capital, HungryMan, Monument 2, The Exhibition Agency, and Ben Russell.
New Capital gets my vote for the best new space in Chicago. Situated in
a shady neighborhood, I would suggest you drive there, but defiantly
don't miss it. In the back of a funky old warehouse filled with exciting
looking toys/machinery, you'll find the the two floors of New Capitol.
On the upper floor is a classic white walled space, for this exhibition
featuring a room-sized typewriter keyboard. Simple and somewhat
cartoonish in its over sized-ness, this piece felt museum ready, if you
know what I mean. It was slick, shiny, and clean. Downstairs was, in my
opinion, the best artwork I saw all weekend. This work, a new piece by
Greg Stimac, consisted of a black and white video, shot from a
helicopter flying over (I assume) Chicago on the night of the 4th of
July. The crossover and blur between war documentary, action film, and
Americana excess was amazing.
J: Yeah, drive there, or go in a
group. I heard later that someone got mugged after leaving this
opening. Remember kids, you may not be able to carry a gun in Chicago,
but there's no law against claw hammers, Maglites, and big dogs. But
mostly just use common sense: if you've got to take transit, bring a
friend (preferably a couple friends, and big ones). As for the work, it
was really amazing. Maria Jönsson's big typewriter was cool, well
crafted, and fun, but Greg Stimac really stole the show with his video.
I think Steph really nailed it right on the head with war documentary +
action movie + Americana. It made me think a lot about Deborah Stratman's "O'er The Land" from the exhibition The Pentagon Saves The World at Pentagon Gallery.
The first thing that hit me was the smell. The largest piece in the
show was built in the gallery, and the scent of the roofing tar
lingered. I could have done without this piece, the size and smell were
distracting from the quieter, more polished, and more pleasurable pieces
in the show. The best works in the show are the smallest, as those
appear to have had the most attention to detail given to them, something
essential to work discussing this kind of scientific and philosophical
subject matter. The larger works just feel janky and shambling, while
the smaller pieces feel like magnificent models.
J: Yeah, and
my thought which I believe I said to you at the time was that it would
be super cool if one of the smaller pieces had been executed big. The
large Buckyball looking thing was kind of neat but kind of sparse, or
open, or loose looking, while the small ones had this really solid,
plausible feel. I liked the sort of mirrored roof gable thing, and it
would have been cool to see it big. But even as it was, I did really
like the smaller works in this show especially.
Well, according to the curator's statement "Use of language to
interpret objects inhibits potential." I guess I'm going to go ahead and
limit some potential then. The text work was quirky and fun, if
J: I had a big disconnect between the tone of the
curator's statement (clipped, dry, academic), the content of the
curator's statement (a defense of beauty), and the work in the
exhibition (minimal Conceptual constructions). The tone of the
statement has that "lots of theory, fresh out of grad school" tone to
it, where you just KNOW they're going to say "simulacra" and
"antimonumental" any minute now, but I was surprised when I read to to
see that Greene was actually referring to formalism, beauty, the
inherent conceptualism of formalism, and the superiority of aesthetics
over concept. I never would have expected that based on the work in the
exhibition. I enjoyed interacting with the work, especially like Steph
said the text-based stuff, but I wouldn't have called it formal by any
stretch of the imagination, and certainly more conceptual than
aesthetic. Unless, of course, I'm misunderstanding something; if
"aesthetic" can refer to my experience interacting with the text-based
images, rather than simply something looking pretty to a passive
observer, then that would make sense to me. Well there. I had to
stretch my brain a bit but I got it to fit. Let's not limit the
potential of this work any further.
S: The explosive piece in the from room of the Ex Agency was the most attractive piece in this show. It looked halfway between an explosion in a shingle factory and Cai Guo-Qiang-style
madness, writ small. It felt dangerous, and violent, felt like
something that would eviscerate you if you fell on it, fitting most
appropriately with the theme of the exhibition.
J: Oh, yeah,
Spikey McWoodbomb was cool. I liked how it felt designed to stab me in
the eye. I'm a fan of non-child-friendly art. I believe the artist on
that piece was Matthew Paul Jinks. That was definitely the most memorable, most noticeable work in the show.
S: Shamefully, this was the first time I'd been down to Ben Russell.
The way they run their exhibitions, having a framework and directive
for the mode of productions, is an interesting premise. Piss in jars,
cannibal nuns, and an angry Gumby;
it was a comedic show. I think the cannibal nurses was probably the
most interesting and intriguing, feeling like a zombeish, ladies-only Rape of the Sabine Women.
J: I love Christa Donner so much. Ever since I saw her self-portrait as a breeding Surinam Toad in her show at ThreeWalls, I've been a big fan of her work. Surinam toads are some freaking awesome animals: picture that part of Golden Axe
where the bad guys erupt from the back of the giant eagle like sentient
pus from a six foot zit, and you're about halfway there.
Donna's giant wall installation of zombie-like cannibal babes was spectacular. I also really liked Jacob Ciocci's video piece of Gumby freaking out to Madonna's Like A Prayer.
Watching a looping video through a full cycle is, let's admit it, often
something of a chore, as the run time of a video piece usually exceeds
the amount of time a viewer gives to a painting, photograph, etc. But
not in this case. I sat through several cycles of Ciocci's video and
was enraptured. His website is pretty special, too.
Tags: Andy Positive and his Dissonant Riders, Ben Fain, Ben Russell, Cai Guo-Quiang, Christa Donner, Christopher Gatton, Deborah Stratman, Golden Axe, Greg Stimac, Gumby, HungryMan, Jacob C. Hammes, Jacob Ciocci, Jeriah Hildwine, Like A Prayer, Madonna, Maria Jonsson, Matthew Paul Jinks, Metatron's Roof, Monday Morning Quarterback, Monument 2, New Capital, Nurses, O'er the Land, Pentagon, Pentagon Saves The World, Peter Hoffman, Rape of the Sabine Women, Sangho Choi, Stephanie Burke, Surinam Toad, The Exhibition Agency, ThreeWalls, Violence