CURATED BY JACOB FABRICIUS
The 2019 program included works that represent a post human narrative, discussing issues surrounding gender, identity, and conditions of being. The hyper-presence of the body, or its conspicuous absence, is a theme that carries throughout each of the site-specific pieces on view. Due to the nature of the space as an exhibition site, the installations were considered through the various ways in which these artworks can both intercept and interact with viewers within the architectural structure of the exposition. As a complement to the on-site program, Fabricius also served on the OVERRIDE | A Billboard Project curatorial committee, including artwork by select artists from the IN/SITU program throughout the City of Chicago’s digital network. Both programs address advertisement-like images and slogans that scratch the surface of political concepts, such as make-believe ideologies—each creating relations among an audience that attempts to interfere with our daily social behavior. In each of the installations, EXPO CHICAGO is treated as a sort of body—one whose veins, arteries, and vessels are used to make viewers pause, stop, wait and interact with the works.
Janine Antoni | Luhring Augustine, New York, Brooklyn
Neïl Beloufa | Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, Brussels, New York
Stine Deja & Marie Munk | ANNKA KULTYS GALLERY, London
Morgan Fisher | Bortolami, New York
Lena Henke | Bortolami, New York
Rodney McMillian | Vielmetter Los Angeles, Los Angeles
Dan Peterman | Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago
Scott Reeder | Kavi Gupta, Chicago
Kay Rosen | RENÉ SCHMITT, Berlin, WOL
Cauleen Smith | Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago
Luhring Augustine, New York, Brooklyn
In Bridle, Antoni includes a replica of the backpack she once used every day. To render the backpack, while maintaining its attachment to the hide from which it was fabricated, Antoni contemplates the relationship of the product to its originating body. The work makes clear the trajectory of production, while still reminding us of its source. The effect conflates the space between fabrication and consumption. Walking around the back of the hide, the viewer can see the straps of the backpack at shoulder height, allowing them to imagine wearing the fate of the cow on one’s back. The appearance of a tail on the reverse of the work becomes perverse, as if a desire for reanimation.
Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, Brussels, New York
2014 #1, 2017
Sem título, 2015
Stine Deja & Marie Munk
ANNKA KULTYS GALLERY, London
Synthetic Seduction, 2018
Synthetic Seduction explores how technology strives to bridge the gulf of the uncanny valley (the notion that humanoid objects that appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit uncanny feelings of eeriness and revulsion in observers) to make personal devices as life-like as possible. The works displayed in the main room are collaborative pieces between Munk and Deja, where Munk's uncanny skin sculptures meet Deja's skin renderings. Within the installation, Deja presents the video Foreigner (2018) featuring an android singing “I want to know what love is," to himself in a vanity mirror. Immersed in a clinical environment, the android appears as a newborn learning to experience emotion through a widely distributed and culturally ubiquitous musical touchstone. Drawing from algorithmic logic, the video satirizes the ways in which machine learning recognizes patterns and repeats them, regardless of what those patterns are, while being a world away from identifying or knowing ‘what love is.’
Bortolami, New York
6 x 6 x 6 x 2 (III), 2018
6 x 6 x 6 x 2 (III) consists of two units I call stacks as assemblies of plywood panels. The stacks, installed at opposite ends of a long wall, are irregular but matching, so that the stacks can be visualized as forming a square.The viewer cannot easily look at both stacks at the same time. To visualize how they fit together, the viewer looks first at one, then moves to look at the other. As such, the space between the stacks is as much a part of the work as the stacks themselves.
Bortolami, New York
Die Baumrinde II, 2019
Die Baumwurzel, 2019
Die Kommenden II, 2018
Across artist Lena Henke’s work, forms of modernism are often mixed with structures that are vehemently opposed, such as narrative, memory, psychological depth, and humor. This selection of the artist’s sculptures highlights the different ways in which they have approached these subjects. In Die Kommenden II (2018), Henke presents a series of characters in the form of vivid purple rubber sculptures, originally used as protagonists in a comic strip that reimagined eight modernist works within a museum collection. Installed atop a rough-hewn structure in the German half-timber fachwerkhaus style, the work draws attention to the mutability of national identity. Henke’s most recent work on view, Die Baumrinde II (2019), is a vertical installation of cast clay slabs in various shades of violet created by being pressed onto trees, resembling tray-sized rose petals or inverted bark. Together, the works operate as a kind of sculpture garden within context of the exposition.
Vielmetter Los Angeles, Los Angeles
Untitled (4443 Prospect Ave.), 2009
Rodney McMillian’s monumental painting Untitled (4443 Prospect Ave.) is a flat, 1:1 scale representation of the façade of the artist’s Los Angeles home at the time it was made. The work, which is composed of acrylic paint on a shaped, unstretched canvas, is roughly painted in black with hints of red suggesting the interior of the home, seen through window and screen door. As in much of McMillian’s work, a personal referent—in this case the artist’s home—touches on a much broader conversation about structures of power, institutions, history, and how these structures are woven into the relationships, experiences, and objects that compose even our most intimate spheres of life. Made amidst the deep uncertainty of the American Financial Crisis, which was characterized by multitudes of defaults on toxic sub-prime mortgages that had been primarily targeted and sold to persons of color who then lost their homes in disproportionate numbers, Untitled (4443 Prospect Ave.) deals with the idea of the house as the representation of the “American Dream,” and the painful gap that often exists between the ideal of home and the reality lived within it.
Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago
Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago
Six sheer orange banners, embroidered with light-absorbing velvet letters, present texts drawn from a composition by American jazz musician Alice Coltrane in which she relates a divine revelation: "At dawn, sit at the feet of action. At noon, be at the hand of might. At eventide, be so big that sky will learn sky." The work was first exhibited as part of an installation for the Counterpublic Triennial in St. Louis, Missouri, which included these suspended works alongside the artist's film Soujourner (2018), where they are 'performed' by twelve women of color as they walk through landscapes that radically imagine alternative futures. The sites included in the video include Chicago, where the banners were activated at a protest during a speech by Dr. Barbara Ransby, and Los Angeles, where they were carried along a beach to the Watts Towers. The work also refers to Noah Purifoy’s sculptural desert town in San Bernardino, and the work of Rebecca Cox Jackson (1795–1871), founder of the first Black Shaker community in the United States. Within the context of the exposition, Sky Will Learn Sky joins other works in the IN/SITU program that relate to the body, history, identity, and culture, hovering above viewers as they navigate the work.
Kavi Gupta, Chicago
This new commission by Scott Reeder invites a wide range of artists from Chicago, Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, and internationally to design flyers to be affixed to the of structure of a kiosk. The site will function as an analog proxy of community and communication within the context of the exposition, alongside a series of ‘monochromatic souvenirs,’ that borrows the form of a traditional European outdoor kiosk for advertisements, but through the lens of an artist-driven work.
RENÉ SCHMITT Berlin, WOL
Oh, Eau, 1989/2019
Oh, Eau was originally created in 1989 for the iconic magazine in Chicago, the New Art Examiner. Since then, the diptych has been installed in venues all over the world as a wall painting, wall silkscreen print, or in vinyl. The text is self-authored, not appropriated. The words in the two parts are identical, but each one has different meanings due to its punctuation, demonstrating metaphorically how the smallest gestures have the potential to alter meaning despite their size.
About the Curator
Jacob Fabricius is currently the Artistic Director at Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark. Fabricius previously served as Director at Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2008 – 2012), followed by time at Kunsthal Charlottenborg in Copenhagen, Denmark (2013 – 2014), where he curated numerous international exhibitions including a solo exhibition of works by Kerry James Marshall. Fabricius has also produced a number of international exhibitions and projects in public spaces. Fabricius is the founder of the publishing company Pork Salad Press and the newspaper project Old News. He has published and released more than 80 books, records and CDs. Fabricius is also a board member of the Danish Arts Foundation, where he works on commissioning art works for public spaces.