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Joel Kuennen

20120124014009-c2dc1dancers_jessica_tong_and_jason_hortin Dance, Modern Dance   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Posted 1/24/12

Bodies pull, collide and fall into unison. People hold hands watching as she takes her time, dancing for them all. A couple stares at each other, their eyes inches away, as an operatic crescendo climbs from the speakers above the stage. For some reason modern dance fell into the cliché for many people. But every time I see it, I watch with amazement as bodies contort to rhythms that seem unremarkable, and I am sucked in by it. The visceral character of dance, the impact of highly trained bodies u... [more]

20120110002642-20111114195353-6318724228_7b7c60714d The Best of 2011   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Posted 1/10/12

I’m always filled with something bordering on dread when writing a best of list. Dread at the prospect of rereading old reviews, dread at trying to recall what all I saw and mostly the dread at attempting to reflexively judge work that has long disappeared from galleries and, usually, my head. But this year…this year was a good year. GLI.TC/H. Image via flickr user Ignotus the Mage    Firstly, new media work continues to pulse in the underground art scene at established spaces like Enemy and... [more]

20111212181559-248_42_andy_warhol___empire Homo Imago   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Posted 12/12/11

If you looked up at the Aon building, the tallest skyscraper to the north of Millennium Park, between the 51st and 61st floors at any point from 6 PM and 2 AM last Friday,  you could see a faint image of the Empire State Building perched there, flickering like a votive candle. This was Andy Warhol’s eight-hour film, Empire. Curated by Matthew Witkovsky, the Chair of the Department of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, this screening of Empire was the first time the film had been shown... [more]

20111203131751-frost_monument_for_jean_genet The Incomplete Instigators   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Steven Frost, David Hartwell at Robert Bills Contemporary December 3rd, 2011 - January 21st, 2012
Posted 12/5/11

This is probably the third Steven Frost show I’ve been to this year. "Exploding Faces, [Confining Spaces]" and "Splay" presented two very different forms of work—collages and performance, respectively. As his past work suggests, Frost’s background lies in the material, fabrics specifically. He brings the attention for detail necessary in fabric work to a very diverse and active sculpture practice that comes to the fore with his newest work now on display at Robert Bills Contemporary. David Hartwe... [more]

Interview with France Cadet  

Chicago, Nov. 2011 -  I sat down this past month for a drink with France Cadet, French artist who has been blurring the lines of the natural and the robotic for the past decade or so. Ms. Cadet was just this year brought on by the Art and Technology faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Previously, she had been volume and robotics professor at Ecole Supérieure d’Art d’Aix-en-Provence and took first prize at VIDA 6.0 in Madrid. She is perhaps best known for her work characterized by refashion... [more]

20111114195353-6318724228_7b7c60714d GLI.TC/H 2.0   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Posted 11/14/11

A year ago, Chicago hosted the first GLI.TC/H conference. The second year was a four-day volley (Nov. 3-6); a full weekend of exhibitions, workshops, real-time performances and a symposium that are being followed by two days of events in Amsterdam (Nov. 12-13) and a Saturday in Birmingham, UK (Nov. 19). While this article focuses mainly on “GLI.TC/H 20111” in Chicago, an upcoming article for ArtSlant will go into more depth on the expansion of the GLI.TC/H conference and Dirty New Media into a g... [more]

20111016075235-05---10 Back to Form   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Sterling Lawrence at Tony Wight Gallery October 28th, 2011 - December 23rd, 2011
Posted 10/31/11

When I came across the promotional images for this exhibition by young artist Sterling Lawrence, I must confess I wasn’t too enthused. Large format gradients, abstracted sculptural gestures, clean lines that lead to conceptual destinations within the hyperbaric chamber of the gallery. It was gallery art. Art made for a gallery. I just wasn’t feeling it… until I was in the gallery itself. Installation view of Sterling Lawrence's "Lie and Wait" at Tony Wight Gallery, 2011. Image courtesy of Tony Wight Gallery and... [more]

20110904170751-ussa_2012 Orphaned by the Symbol   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Zachary Cahill at threewalls September 9th, 2011 - October 15th, 2011
Posted 10/10/11

“Yeah USSA! Go Bears, Go!” Said artist, Zachary Cahill during his Artist’s Talk at threewalls last Thursday, the night that also coincidentally coincided with the beginning of Occupy Chicago. Both this exhibition and the gathering inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement find their origins as orphans. Ending its month-long run at threewalls this weekend, Zachary Cahill’s "USSA 2012: The Orphanage Project" is a working-through by an artist orphaned by the symbol. The anxiety produced by this... [more]

20110905154825-snapshot_2011-09-05_17-36-28 Back to the Arcades   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Posted 9/5/11

When walking into Discount Mega Mall, you have the feeling that you are entering an indoor flea market. And in fact you are. $20 jeans, tattoo and piercing booths, bling and engagement rings, Catholic bric-a-brac, car stereos with candy colored subwoofer booths are scattered amongst vacant 10’x10’ lots in long rows that circle in on each other. The shop owners all seem to lounge in their small stores waiting for a potential customer yet not actively pursuing any casual passerby. Amongst this non... [more]

20110829181732-img_3150exitstrategy Display   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Madeleine Baily, Steven Frost, Yasi Ghanbari, Elise Goldstein, Rachel Lowther, Ivan Lozano, Brian Maller, Alison Rhoades, Tessa Siddle, Fritz Welch, Synvia Whitney at Roxaboxen Exhibitions August 26th, 2011 - September 18th, 2011
Posted 8/29/11

This past Friday saw the opening of “Splay,” curated by Marissa Perel, a performance artist and curator. Representing artists from around the world and comprised of installations and two performances (by Steven Frost and Syniva Whitney) “Splay” gestures towards contemporary standards of eroticism and the state of the erotic as a reflexive component in the construction of self. Perel hopes to “open up a dialogue about the place of real pleasure within the manifold real and imagined identification o... [more]

20110721201455-renovationcreep Antena & Miguel Cortez   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Joe Cassan, Dan Bruttig and Erin Thurlow at Antena August 5th, 2011 - September 3rd, 2011
Posted 8/8/11

Antena (the Spanish spelling of “antenna”) is a project space run by Miguel Cortez of the now-defunct Polvo collective and magazine. Located in Pilsen, Antena has a history of presenting new and interesting work that has given it a reputation of excellent curation representative of young artists and emerging work at the intersection of genres most important to the contemporary moment. Mr. Cortez points to his laissez-faire approach to curating as the key to keeping artists and patrons interested... [more]

20110629072158-01--6 Human Nature   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Marius Aleksa, Theresa Ganz, Sara Garth, David Giordano, Jacqueline Hendrickson, Samantha Jones, Stacee Kalmanovsky, Melanie Kassel, Jessie Mott, Jasmine Neal, Elle Opitz, Hannah Pae, Valentina Solano, Cassandra Troyan, Jan Verwoert, Erik Wenzel, May Yeung at DOVA Temporary June 29th, 2011 - July 23rd, 2011
Posted 7/25/11

“Animality” is one of the rare occasions where academia meets the road, so to speak, as the theoretical map is put to use. In the spring of 2011, Zach Cahill, a lecturer with the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago and coordinator of the Open Practice Committee, taught a course entitled “Animality” as a survey of the issues surrounding the complicated and often problematic relationships between humans and animals. This exhibition is the culmination of that survey course.   Human-anim... [more]

20110718190406-tumblr_lo4nzzfkbw1qf9bkdo1_500 A Small Forest of Net Art   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Michael Manning, Camilla Padgitt-Coles, Kate Steciw, michiel van der zanden at Kunsthalle New July 16th, 2011 - July 16th, 2011
Posted 7/18/11

Last Saturday night, Kunsthalle New, a small storefront gallery in typical Pilsen fashion, opened their new show, “A Small Forest.” According to the exhibition description, “‘A Small Forest’ explores delicate landscapes developed and appropriated by [the] artist that have been found and manipulated with the space of the screen.” Meaning: the artists in this show are expressing aesthetics that are affected through contemporary forms of interfacing. The exhibition's premise is wonderfully illustrated by Michiel van der... [more]

20110528103622-russian-lynx-fur-coat-alixandre-furs-vintage-1988-ad_200584244737 Stretching Materiality   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Leeza Meksin and Yevgeniya Baras at ADDS DONNA June 5th, 2011 - July 10th, 2011
Posted 7/4/11

In a redeveloped loft, far out on Lake Street, past the Garfield Conservatory and amidst islands of empty lots and padlocked warehouses, a small group of artists run ADDS DONNA. This six-person collective shares studio spaces, runs reading groups and operates a gallery. Coming to an end July 10th, “HIDE” is a two-person show from Brooklyn-based artists Leeza Meksin and Yevgeniya Baras. Leeza Meksin. HIDE. Site specific installation. 2011. Image courtesy of ADDS DONNA.   “HIDE” consists mostly of paintings but is dominated by... [more]

20110516194314-01__5 Jasmine Justice   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Jasmine Justice at 65GRAND May 20th, 2011 - June 25th, 2011
Posted 6/20/11

Jasmine Justice sounds like a name given to the righteous fall of autocracies in the Middle East. However, Jasmine Justice is the real, and awesome, name of an American-born abstract expressionist painter currently living in Istanbul, Turkey. Ms. Justice’s  style, color palette and play with titles affix her to contemporary painting in the United States, yet the visual vivacity, visceral vibrancy that lends the adjective of “expressionist” to her work sets her apart—jettisoned into a diverse global f... [more]

20110419192925-03___4 not raptured, but still in heaven   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Charles Thomas Fogarty, Joseph Patrick Mault, Patrick Francis McGuan at Heaven Gallery May 6th, 2011 - May 28th, 2011
Posted 5/23/11

“Good afternoon, there is art in both galleries and the men’s section is on the right,” said Alma Wieser, the “mother” of Heaven, with a smile as I came in. Run by Alma Wieser and Joe Jeffers, Heaven Gallery has been a staple of Milwaukee Avenue for over a decade now. Founded in 1997 in the Flat Iron Building, it found its way to its current location in 2000.  Heaven is known for having an open and free submission policy and so has become home to many emerging artists from Chicago. They have rec... [more]

20110509163601-hubbard_street_dance_chicago_review-2 A Stolen Kiss at the CSO   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Posted 5/9/11

On Tuesday, May 3, 2011, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Hubbard Street Dance Studio teamed up for their last performance in a week-long series of collaborations between the firmly established Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) and the young and inventive Hubbard Street. The program seemed like it was going to be a rather normal night. Scheduled were two sets by Vivaldi, a lovely and technically impressive oboe concerto composed by Marcello and a concerto grosso by Corelli, a popular Italian composer from the 17th centur... [more]

20110509154233-symptomsroxa2011 The Cure   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Sara Clugage, Christine Elliot, T. Brandon Evans, Meredith Kooi, L.C. Parker, Lauren A. Ross, Jeremy Shedd, Dustin Yager at Roxaboxen Exhibitions May 6th, 2011 - May 21st, 2011
Posted 5/9/11

This past weekend, “Symptoms Variable” opened at Roxaboxen Exhibitions, an apartment gallery in Pilsen. The culminating show for the Master of Art in Visual and Critical Studies program at School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), “Symptoms Variable” serves as a clear window into the enigmatic discipline of Visual Studies, a discipline I, by way of disclosure, also hold a degree in from the SAIC. Visual and Critical Studies is not synonymous with Visual Studies, but rather incorporates the act... [more]

20110411235757-ac201145667jpg Brit Galleries at Art Chicago   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
at Art Chicago April 29th, 2011 - May 2nd, 2011
Posted 5/2/11

This year at Art Chicago, a couple of London galleries showed up with some amazing, non-Damien Hirst work.   Chris Wood. Volute.   Leading the way was the Woolff Gallery, run by an energetic father-and-son duo. Woolff represents stunning master craft artists Marcus Egli, Chris Wood and Petr Weigl as well as the playful Cube Works, Russell West, Clay Sinclair and Joanne Tinker. Seen above, Egli crafts “Hominium” figures of aluminum in his Swiss workshop.  They are individually distinct, ye... [more]

20110307164648-postsmithson_small Post-Smithson Indeed   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Emilie Crewe, Isabelle Gougenheim, Emily Irvine at Noble & Superior Projects March 18th, 2011 - April 16th, 2011
Posted 4/4/11

Tucked behind a duplex and overlooking a cornered courtyard is the West Town apartment gallery, Noble & Superior Projects. This month, they are presenting a show entitled "Post-Smithson," a parodic and periodic study by artists Isabelle Gougenheim, Emily Irvine, and Emilie Crewe.   Before the "post," there was Smithson. Robert Smithson is best known for his earthworks: monumental testaments to the human hand as well as the overwhelming entropy of time. In his essay “A Sedimentation of the... [more]

20110321150924-hebru_1 A Closer Look at Zhou B and Bridgeport   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Posted 3/21/11

On 35th Street, west of the White Sox stadium and east of Bridgeport’s industrial wasteland, lies a four-story, 80,000 sq. ft. brick building housing studios, five gallery spaces, a café and a museum shop. Founded in 2003 by the Zhou Brothers, a pair of eccentric and self-proclaimed prodigious artists that settled in Chicago two decades ago, Zhou B Art Center has consistently interesting openings and has carved a niche for itself within the arts and culture scene in Bridgeport, and Chicago in gene... [more]

20110321143801-sexier_480w Bringing Sexier Back   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Academy Records, Gabriel Bizen Akagawa, Judith Brotman, Paola Cabal, C.C. Ann Chen, Edmund Chia, Jason Dunda, Jeanne Medina with Alexandria Eregbu, Kirk Faber, Ling-An Fang, Andreas Fischer, Brent Garbowski, Jeffrey Grauel, Greg Grucel), Matthew Harrison, John Henley, Alex Herrera, Greyson Hong, Paul Hopkin, Laura Hsieh, Carol Jackson, MIAO JIAXIN, Steven L Jones, Jason Jozwiak, James Kao, Ana Ut Kei, Mayumi Lake, Erin LaRocque, Diego Leclery, Heeran Lee, Kirsten Leenaars, Ei Jane Janet Lin, Zihan Loo, Maya Mackrandilal, Joe Mault, Helen McElroy, Jon Monteverde, MZL, Chris Naka, Heidi Norton, Susannah Papish, Jamilee Polson, Qing Yang and Tim Schade, Johannah Silva, Joshua Slater, Eliot Taguiam, Rebecca Walz, Jenyu Wang, Jiankun Xie, Wang YeFeng, Naomi Yorke, Chien-An Yuan, Alex Zak at Zhou B Art Center March 11th, 2011 - April 10th, 2011
Posted 3/21/11

A slight woman in a white bridal dress and a man in a tux hand out perfume test strips from a card table in front of the door. I’m not sure why. There’s a crowd gathered around and the man is eagerly pushing the strips in people’s faces with an enormous smile. Little white strips litter the ground spreading out from the table, dispersed like a star burst. Sexier is not your average titillating erotica show. Instead, textures—tactile and visual—assert themselves through a majority of the work, exu... [more]

20110228141531-coldplaysonggenerator-screenshot22011 The Consumer as Prosumer   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Nick Briz at Enemy February 26th, 2011 - March 1st, 2011
Posted 2/28/11

Nick Briz (pronounced breeze) makes art according to the belief that copyright law as it currently exists is a violation of vital human expression. His artistic practice finds itself at the nexus of art and technology; within this intersection the artist produces interrogations and critical expositions of the digital everyday. Enemy, an apartment gallery devoted to aural delights (i.e.: sound artists) on the 3rd floor of the 1550 N Milwaukee Ave. building that also houses the gallery Heaven, play... [more]

20110205111213--3 A Matter of Time   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Steven Frost, Tiphanie Spencer, Nathan Vernau at Robert Bills Contemporary February 12th, 2011 - March 15th, 2011
Posted 2/14/11

In the realm of the contemporary art gallery, it’s common to see uncommon work. This paradigm poses many problems for the critic not to mention the artist, problems that have been brewing for almost a century now. The modern focus on “the new” has churned out mountains of dispensable artifacts along with masterpieces, but fortunately “Exploding Faces (Confining Spaces)” at Robert Bills Contemporary presents a selection of work that is a quality mix of the contemporary moment; some brashly new, some... [more]

20110131112029-fire-in-my-belly_525 No Longer Shall We Suffer in Silence   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
David Wojnarowicz at Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago January 4th, 2011 - February 6th, 2011
Posted 1/31/11

On November 30th, 2010, the art world recoiled as the news spread that the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG), under the orders of Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough, had succumbed to pressure from the Catholic League and Republican members of the House of Representatives to remove an artwork by David Wojnarowicz from the NPG’s exhibition “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture”.  The artwork had been up a month before it became the highest-profile example of governme... [more]

20101117161402-001__11 High Modern Candy   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Josiah McElheny at Donald Young Gallery November 13th, 2010 - January 28th, 2011
Posted 1/10/11

Candy. Lots and lots of brightly packaged eye candy in infinite planes, forcing comparisons across colored contrasts. McElheny is one of those artists who produces work that can be enjoyed without a background in art, but it’s fun to throw words at it too. Complex-simplicity seems to be his operating system. Light-refracting glass objects are placed in monotone cabinets like so many deco pill bottles, in the respective Czech, Finnish, and Italian Modernism series, 2010. Or perhaps a cityscape of... [more]

20101104184332-003--11 Welcome to the Playground   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Vito Acconci, Carl Andre, Chris Burden, Liam Gillick, Aernout Mik, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, Gabriel Orozco, Dan Peterman, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Richard Serra, Andrea Zittel at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) November 20th, 2010 - May 1st, 2011
Posted 1/3/11

Pulling from the Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MCA) own collection, curator Tricia Van Eck, with the help of Dominic Molon (a former curator at the MCA, now Chief Curator at the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis), presents this season’s bread-and-butter exhibition. Running until May, “Without You I’m Nothing” addresses an issue that has defined art from the ‘60s onward: the viewer. What is the role of the audience in art? Does art exist without an audience? How can art affect and effect the view... [more]

20101213125903-info_porn_1 Select Media Festival's "INFOPORN II"   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Tom Burtonwood, Dayton Castleman, Caleb Charland, Jeremiah Chiu, Adam Lonczynski & Joshua Clarfelt, The PMIRL library Infoporn Collection, Theodore Darst, Firebelly Design, Francesco Franchi, David A. Garcia, Cody Hudson, Gary Kachadourian, Derek Lerner, Adam Lonczynski, MaTeVoS, Column Five Media, The New City Reader Classifieds project by Kazys Varnelis and Joseph Grima & others, Serifcan Ozcan, The Center for Urban Pedagogy, The Present Group at Co-Prosperity Sphere December 9th, 2010 - December 12th, 2010
Posted 12/13/10

In a dark and smoky basement, a traveling-musician-clown character who has been looping Mongolian throat singing suddenly shouts from the stage “Thanks to Edmar for putting this on!” A phone rings and a 30-something man with longish brown hair and a Western-style shirt flashes across the front of the stage, the light of a phone pressed to his ear illuminating the side of his face, “And there he goes, always business.” Meet Ed Marszewski; Bridgeport arts and community kingpin, known to... [more]

20101213122102-rbills Material Syntax   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
Joe Baldwin, Veronica Bruce, Dan Giordan at Robert Bills Contemporary December 11th, 2010 - January 4th, 2011
Posted 12/13/10

On the east side of the Fulton Market area, a new gallery has popped up this year. Down some stairs, round a couple of corners, and through several halls, one finds Robert Bills Contemporary. Over the year, Robert Bills Contemporary has exhibited talented artists like Nathan Vernau, Lisa Nonken and Woohyun Shim. This show is no exception. Work spills out into the hall from this packed sugar cube. It takes a moment or two to settle on a rotational direction but I decided on counter-clockwise... [more]

20101004192606-urban-china-01-10 Contesting Haussmann in Urban China   Pick-button-5bf6c1b36c3b74ec8f312c7c9f6f1ae3
at Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) October 16th, 2010 - April 3rd, 2011
Posted 11/29/10

Snuggled into the corner of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s (MCA) second floor is a fascinating exhibition, “Informal Cities” that focuses on methods of organizing information. In the modern West, the urban has been a critical site of theoretical and experimental thought throughout the last century, coming to a head with the iconic publication of La révolution urbaine by Henri Lefebvre in 1970. Following the student upheavals of May ‘68, the urban announced its importance with a shout... [more]

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