Claudine Ise

  • picks May 06, 2013

    Jason Lazarus

    Jason Lazarus’s solo exhibition, installed in two separate areas of the museum, investigates the learning process and the various overlapping contexts—public and private, individual and collective—in which it happens. Strangely, Lazarus does so through displaying objects and images that are partially hidden from view and are thus not fully comprehensible. Snapshots are pinned to walls with their “backs” facing viewers, a board of photographs found in New Orleans is completely covered by a brown blanket, and a smallish “X” of white glow-in-the-dark tape is placed high on a wall. The works’ titles

  • picks April 18, 2013

    “Model Studies”

    “Model Studies” presents Thomas Demand’s photographs of three-dimensional models that he did not make himself, which is something Demand has never done before. If this move seems slight, consider the implications of the German artist’s usual process, which ends with the destruction of the life-size paper environments he meticulously replicates from media images and then photographs—actions that seem to fulfill Jean Baudrillard’s prophesy of a world where simulation is all. Given this, Demand’s choice of subject here is remarkably tangible—twelve fairly beat-up working models by the midcentury

  • picks March 08, 2012

    “This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s”

    “This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s” examines artists’ responses to that decade’s cultural upheavals, including the rise of gender politics, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Cold War anxieties, and President Ronald Reagan’s malign indifference to the AIDS epidemic. Spanning the years 1979–92, it features approximately one hundred artists’ works, which are grouped into four thematic sections, each addressing a different area of cultural conflict: “Gender Trouble,” “Democracy,” “Desire and Longing,” and “The End Is Near.”

    This framework successfully vivifies major thematic concerns

  • picks December 01, 2011

    Irena Knezevic

    Could democracy be the cause of all the world’s misery? This is one of many provocative questions posed by Irena Knezevic’s “Here Comes the Darkness,” an unsettling, profoundly relevant exhibition whose metaphorical center is a thirty-two-minute video from which the show’s title derives. The video intercuts shots of far-flung locales—the Zagros Mountains bordering Iraq and Jordan, an apple orchard, the scenery from Hitler’s nature walks just outside Munich—with animated images of spinning stars and scenes of dancers performing movements choreographed by the artist. A slow-building tension is

  • picks November 14, 2011

    Dianna Frid

    Humanity’s often poignant reliance on language at the precise moments when it falls short—or fails altogether—is a subject of continual fascination for Dianna Frid. In her current solo exhibition, titled “Evidence of the Material World,” the works on view attempt to give form not to sublime or ineffable experience, but to the inevitable gaps and fissures that arise from our use of language to describe it. Frid’s Words from Obituary (#1) (all works cited, 2011) consists of four graphite-covered sheets of paper on which the text “The Fourth Word Spoken on the Moon” appears, each letter embroidered

  • picks October 28, 2011

    Jonathan Baldock

    The clown—a source of laughter for some and of unease or even terror for others—is the central motif in Jonathan Baldock’s sculptural installation Pierrot, 2011, which takes its title and inspiration from Jean-Antoine Watteau’s 1718–19 painting of a commedia dell’arte fool. Standing alone above his fellow actors, Watteau’s Pierrot appears lost in thought, the expression on his unpainted face remote. In this moment, he seems unable to fully inhabit his persona—perhaps he is a man forced to play a part that stopped making sense long ago. Baldock’s version of the Pierrot figure evokes a similar

  • picks September 30, 2011

    Barbara Kasten

    Since the mid-1970s, Barbara Kasten has been making abstract pictures that reveal and exploit the medium’s underlying properties—in particular, photography’s dependence on light to record material phenomena and its tendency to flatten or otherwise distort the viewer’s perceptions of a given volume, spatial relationship, or object. Kasten will typically build a still-life tableau in her studio, using pieces of glass or Plexiglas, mesh screens, mirrors, and other materials that can be transparent, reflective, or both. The resulting compositions slide between the hard-edge dynamism of Constructivist

  • picks July 27, 2011

    “The World As Text”

    Part exhibition, part library, and part metatext about the nature of textuality itself, this concise yet wide-ranging gathering gives equal consideration to the handmade zine, the limited edition chapbook, the e-book, and a host of other material and conceptual approaches to the hybrid form known as the artist’s book. Dianna Frid’s delicate, hand-sewn text is the only work requiring a vitrine—everything else is fully accessible. By including roughly seventy-five selections (chosen by a panel of artists that included Buzz Spector and Maria Fusco, among others), curator Jessica Cochran has made

  • picks June 21, 2011

    Uta Barth

    Uta Barth’s new photographic series “ . . . and to draw a bright white line with light,” 2011, subtly departs from her previous bodies of work, two of which, “white blind (bright red),” 2002, and “Sundial,” 2007, are also on view in this exhibition. Barth’s photographs are composed of elements that are normally relegated to a composition’s background—the blanched sky, barren trees, and telephone lines of the “white blind (bright red)” series, for example, or the hanging lamp, mustard-colored sofa, and light-filled window of “Sundial.” Although her images rarely include people, as of late Barth

  • picks June 14, 2011

    John Neff

    “John Neff Prints Robert Blanchon” resurrects a project by the late Blanchon, Untitled (aroma/1981), 1995––a work that, in turn, resurrects a lost period in history: the gay sexual revolution that had reached its ebullient heights in the late 1970s, just prior to the onset of HIV and AIDS. Blanchon’s installation consists of one hundred ads for sex products that he collected from gay magazines of the late 1970s and then photographed, leaving the resulting prints intentionally unfixed so that the images would fade over the course of exhibition. With each new set of prints, Blanchon could revive

  • picks May 29, 2011

    Sara Greenberger Rafferty and Ruby Sky Stiler

    Sara Greenberger Rafferty’s highly conceptual output looks at how the logic of performance—be it comedic, musical, or even domestic in nature—becomes as slippery as a banana peel once the performer herself is removed from the scene. Rafferty’s works ask: Without bodies, does a stage become a shelf? Will the jokes still fly if they take the form of pictograms, as they do in the cutout Plexiglas images of a banana, a rubber chicken, and Groucho glasses lying flat on the grass outside the exhibition space? Inside, a fiberboard platform, images of a woman wailing into a microphone, abstracted images

  • picks May 04, 2011

    Rinus Van de Velde

    Rinus Van de Velde’s mural-scaled wall drawing is a short story hand-lettered directly on the gallery’s walls. Told from a first-person perspective, the narrative is interspersed with charcoal illustrations appropriated from archival sources and subtly altered in ways that make oblique reference to the story. The Flemish artist’s fictional alter ego, a painter also named Rinus Van de Velde, authors the fictive letter on which the actual artist’s current exhibition “Dear David Johnson” is based. The letter explains why the avatar-as-artist failed to show up for a meeting with Johnson (an equally

  • picks April 13, 2011

    Jim Nutt

    Jim Nutt’s latest exhibition homes in on the artist’s singular portraits of women, arguably his most celebrated works and certainly his most immediately recognizable. Typically depicted from the shoulders up, their faces framed by gleaming coils of hair, they are striking amalgams of Nutt’s wide-ranging pictorial enthusiasms, which include Northern European portraits and sacral glass paintings, Persian miniatures, pulp novel covers, and pinball machine art.

    Nutt rose to prominence in the mid-1960s during his association with Chicago’s loose-knit “Hairy Who” group of artists, whose cartoonishly

  • picks April 04, 2011

    Ben Russell

    Ben Russell’s long-standing interests in cinema and animism have yielded an eclectic range of works incorporating performance, experimental ethnography, psychedelia, and, most salient, the histories of film and its apparatuses. Titled “Uh-Oh It’s Magic,” after the bouncy refrain of a 1980s Cars song, Russell’s latest exhibition attempts to dissolve the white cube’s clinical framework, albeit in slyly allusive fashion. The floors and walls of one gallery are painted the lurid shade of green-screen compositing, evoking the process that allows filmmakers to “magically” replace one background with

  • picks February 14, 2011

    Gerard Byrne

    A thing is a hole in a thing it is not, Gerard Byrne’s 2010 multichannel film installation, takes its title from Carl Andre’s Minimalist credo, which first appeared as the title of an essay by Robert Smithson in the June 1967 issue of Artforum. It is both ironic and apt that Andre’s circuitous dictum on being and absence now provides a framework for an equally reverberant meditation on Minimalism’s historical reception. In this, as in past works, Byrne utilizes historical documents as raw material that he restages in filmed reenactments, often with actors. Five films are projected separately on

  • picks February 05, 2011

    Anne Wilson

    In her latest exhibition, Anne Wilson successfully weaves a dense discursive fabric out of the translucent materiality of glass. The artist is known for large-scale projects that use fibers, loom work, and collaborative practices to situate traditional handcrafted object making within an abstract topography of global postindustrial production. Wilson’s interest in the fibrous qualities of molten glass was piqued during her residencies at the Pilchuck Glass School in Tacoma, Washington, where she worked with gaffers and studio assistants to create “rewinds”—clear glass spindles, nestled in

  • picks December 16, 2010

    Deb Sokolow

    “Conspiracy theory (and its garish narrative manifestations) must be seen as a degraded attempt . . . to think the impossible totality of the contemporary world system,” wrote Fredric Jameson in his 1991 book Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Deb Sokolow’s highly entertaining works parody this idea by pushing the conspiracy genre to its absurdist extremes. In Sokolow’s hand-drawn works, even the Chicken McNugget—that degraded signifier of globalized consumer culture—is ripe with hidden significance. Using second person perspective––the destabilized “you” favored by numerous

  • picks December 11, 2010

    Jennifer Reeder

    This satisfying exhibition marks the debut of Jennifer Reeder’s latest short film as well as her first sculptural forays. The mundane exteriors of Reeder’s recent character-based narrative films often belie roiling emotional undercurrents, so it’s fitting that the mixed-media sculptures on view here are also made to hide their true forms. Shelved records culled from the artist’s personal collections, each album cover masked by a monochromatic felt sleeve, are stacked in striking Minimalist compositions along two walls. Elsewhere, disparate props shaped like an E.T. doll, a clown’s glove, and a

  • picks November 11, 2010

    Dana DeGiulio, Marie Torbensdatter Hermann, and Anders Ruhwald

    This collaborative exhibition of works by Chicago-based painter Dana DeGiulio and Danish ceramists Marie Torbensdatter Hermann and Anders Ruhwald is the latest installment in “Kabinett,” a yearlong series of shows at Devening Projects + Editions featuring local, national, and international artists. In this particular instance, the extent of the exchange among the three participating artists feels a bit underplayed, even tentative, but when things do start to heat up between them, the results are inspired and invigorating.

    The artworks keep discreetly to themselves in the first room. On the walls,

  • picks October 03, 2010

    Stephanie Syjuco

    The whimsical sculptures in Stephanie Syjuco’s exhibition “Particulate Matter: Things, Thingys, Thingies” are based on designs that were never meant to have a material form. Each of the fifty-four pieces on view represents Syjuco’s attempt to physically render one of hundreds of virtual objects made with Google SketchUp, a free 3-D modeling program favored by amateur designers for its user-friendliness. (The exhibition also includes a video projection of these objects as they appear in digital form). While SketchUp designers can upload their creations to a shared database categorized by function