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Art Wed Sep 23 2015
The 2015 Expo Chicago presented 140 galleries from all over the world last weekend at the Navy Pier festival hall. In a celebratory manner, THE SEEN, an independent editorial affiliate of Expo, released their first print issue over the weekend, and /Dialogues introduced panel discussions and conversations throughout the three bustling days. IN/SITU provided large-scale installations and site-specific works throughout the expansive hall inside and outside on Navy Pier.
The most memorable work in the IN/SITU program, possibly because of its location, was Daniel Buren's From three windows, which illuminated the space and released color while suspended from the ceiling. The residual program pieces were lost among the volume of visitors and rousing bodies that centered around the smaller works in the booths--glancing at what was above, and being lured in towards the interest of sales.
Daniel Buren "from three windows," courtesy of EXPO Chicago
The strongest and most inspiring works were stationed on the outskirts, found on the east and west walls, and labeled with orange signs--distanced from the core of the fair. Not-for-profit galleries such as, Threewalls, The Renaissance Society, LOCAL Arte Contemporaneo, and the Hyde Park Art Center kicked ass with works that surveyed a large selection of media such as sculpture, video, installation, and performance. The Renaissance Society, who exhibited Nora Schultz in 2014, presented the works from a performance that was held in the space a year ago. By transforming the objects that were included in the exhibition, the artist continued to layer and estrange the work from its original location, creating an ongoing conversation between what it means to truly "finish" a work of art. LOCAL Arte Contemporaneo worked with Chilean artist Carlos Costa to create an installation piece focused on the basic element of wind and environment. Based on the "Windy City," the piece humorously situated a small tree (the installation changed throughout the days) in an orange Home Depot bucket, attached small kites with blue duct tape, and set a fan on the floor. Contriving the false, but very real, wind created an invisible clash between the atmosphere and the static objects situated in the booth. These galleries, along with SAIC and DoVA, presented honest and interesting works that represented the Chicago community.
Nora Schultz, courtesy of EXPO Chicago
Once I began my walk inside the labyrinth, I was overwhelmed with "Look at me!" canvases that engrossed interested collectors, but steered me away. Painting dominated the fair once again this year. Maurico Limón's piece, Untitled, is an example of this. Limón's oeuvre is interdisciplinary and includes performance and video, however an oil on linen painting was displayed in the booth. Galeria Hilario Galguera from Mexico did make a rebuttal by including Bosco Sodi's, Untitled, volcanic rocks covered in ceramic glaze and gold paint.
Several galleries, such as Galerie Thomas Shulte from Berlin, indulged the concept of "size matters" in terms of bringing visitors into their booths. Black Jack by Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle was impressive, loud, and a bit ridiculous, but collectors and visitors were drawn in to the stand-out piece.
Carlos Costa, "Local Arte Contemporaneo," courtesy of EXPO Chicago
Though seldom featured, video work was included in the fair and a particular favorite of mine was Pace Gallery's piece from Michal Rovner titled, Space Element. The video loop included an Israeli landscape, distorted figures, and slow motion movement across an LCD screen. The glitch and the distortion in the video created an image that appears stagnant at first glance, but on closer inspection, featured moving figures that pulsed alongside a landscape. Another great video piece was Silvia Riva's, Still Paradise is Ours 2 (Hurricane), at the Diana Lowenstein Gallery booth. In comparison to LOCAL's wind installation, Riva's work was small scale and included miniature props such as rocks, plants, and a fan. Next to the props was an LCD screen that ominously presented wind, rain and, representing the title, hurricane-like weather patterns. The pieces, although small, required attention and created a meditative experience as I cautiously watched the screen but felt energized through its physical movement. The Nancy Hoffman Gallery didn't have many redeeming factors except for the video piece, situated on the floor, by Asya Reznikov. Packing for Delivery - Boy, represented the artist's video-based works and her interest in projecting images into or onto three-dimensional objects. In this case, the object was a suitcase and the projection presented hands that packed clothing, among other things, for the arrival and birth of her son.
When I began my rounds at Expo, I felt lost, a bit hungry, and completely out of my element. I found refuge in the Charlie James Gallery booth where I was offered a sticker that Jennifer Dalton created specifically for Expo. Hello I'm was an installation piece where visitors were given the chance to choose a sticker to fit their feelings and current state of emotions. "Wearing the wrong shoes" and "alternating between depressed and inspired" were tough contenders but I decided on "deeply uncomfortable." Slapping the sticker on my shirt gave me a sense of confidence to admit that I felt incredibly poor, confused, and uninspired. By the time I left the maze of booths and delicate objects my sticker was peeling off at the corners and I proudly continued to pat it down in an effort to keep its certainty and affirmation sticking to my skin.
Jennifer Dalton, "Hello I'm,", courtesy of Charlie James Gallery
Despite the claims, demanding that I remain uncomfortable, I walked off of Navy Pier feeling a small sense of intensity and impulse. While I was not originally rewarded, I exited a bit more eager to explore global artists, continue my push to move beyond painting, and completely comfortable with being uncomfortable.