Zachary Cahill

  • interviews May 03, 2016

    Theaster Gates

    Known for his performances, his sculptures, and his large-scale, site-specific building reclamation projects in Chicago—such as the ambitious Stony Island Arts Bank, which serves to bolster culture in an underinvested neighborhood—Theaster Gates has also sustained a drawing practice throughout his career. Powerful works in their own right, his drawings are profoundly connected to every facet of Gates’s practice. He discusses that work here, as well as his way of conceiving exhibitions and his vision for a future art school. “Black Archive,” a solo exhibition of Gates’s work, is on view at

  • picks December 17, 2015

    Susan Hiller

    Few contemporary artists have taken up residence in the realm of the uncanny with as much assuredness and commitment as Susan Hiller. In her first solo exhibition in London since her retrospective at Tate Britian in 2011, we find a body of work that is at once wildly diverse in its forms and doggedly consistent in its rigorous pursuit of the ineffable, the marginal, and the forgotten.

    On the Edge and Rough Dawns II, 2015, continue the artist’s interest in repurposing the postcard—an anonymous, commercially manufactured device for nostalgia—as an artistic medium. On the Edge is an effort to map

  • Frances Stark

    For all its investment in media technology, “Intimism,” the first survey to home in on Frances Stark’s digitally based work, was at its heart a writerly exhibition. Stark weaves text through numerous media, from drawing to video to (in this instance) the museum’s Instagram feed, even applying something like an essayistic approach to designing her exhibition layout—a strategy that Charles Ray, an early mentor, once described to the artist as “writing in space.” While the resulting show readily displayed Stark’s playfulness and undeniable joie de vivre, it had an equally undeniable dark

  • interviews August 18, 2015

    Michael Rakowitz

    Often engaging with found objects and sculpture in his research-based practice, artist Michael Rakowitz creates installations and participatory events to instantiate counternarratives to received histories in site-specific contexts. Here he discusses The Flesh Is Yours, The Bones Are Ours, 2015, his commissioned work for the Fourteenth Istanbul Biennial, which is curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev. Rakowitz’s project laterally approaches the subject of the 1915 Armenian genocide through the traditions of craft and architecture. The exhibition opens at the Galata Greek School on September 5

  • picks April 07, 2015

    Jessica Labatte

    The poet Joseph Brodsky wrote, “Dust is the flesh of time. / Time’s very flesh and blood.” In her first solo exhibition with this gallery Jessica Labatte gives ebullient expression to the passage of time. While dust is the bane of the fastidious and the enemy of the traditional photographer, marring efforts towards crystalline imagery, Labatte takes up dust as her subject matter, in photographs that are deeply in conversation with Abstract Expressionist painting. That particular genre is in many respects the polar opposite of uptight perfection, with its canvases rumpled and littered by everything

  • interviews February 20, 2015

    William Pope.L

    A mainstay of performance and installation art since the 1970s, William Pope.L will open the largest museum show of his work to date at the Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, on March 20, 2015. Trinket, 2008, the centerpiece work, and also the title of the show, is a large-scale American flag that will be blown continuously during the museum’s public hours by a bank of industrial fans. Here, Pope.L discusses the show, which runs until June 28, 2015.

    AN EXHIBITION TITLE can function in various ways: a prompt, pr, or a means to point at something far or near. A

  • picks November 17, 2014

    “A Proximity of Consciousness”

    Richly sensorial, “A Proximity of Consciousness,” curated by Mary Jane Jacob and Kate Zeller, explores glancing moments of intersection between social practice and the natural elements. How social practice ought to be exhibited has been a bone of contention among supporters and critics alike, due in large measure to the fact that what is essential to the genre, what is lived and experienced, has not always been easily translatable into the syntax of gallery displays. If the curatorial rhetoric around this show resists defining social practice, one is nevertheless left considering alternate

  • picks September 18, 2014

    Amy Vogel

    One of the more tired arguments regarding nature is that it is simply our own construction. It’s not. It is a collaboration. “Paraperspective,” a fifteen-year survey of Amy Vogel’s work, which is curated by artist Joseph Grigely, lends credence to this conviction. The exhibition traffics in the interplay between kitsch, art, the paraphernalia of display, and representations of nature. All the work retains an air of potentiality about it—with some pieces still partially wrapped in packing material, while others sit respectfully beneath vitrines (a hallmark of Grigely’s own practice).

    Just outside

  • picks September 15, 2014

    “Phantoms in the Dirt”

    Photography is dead, or so “Phantoms in the Dirt” might suggest. After nearly two centuries, photography finds itself in a predicament similar to what it inflicted on painting—questioning its significance in light of changing technology and the escalating reproduction of images that are redefining the ontology of a picture. Photographic practices are foregrounding materiality more than ever in order to stand out from the wash of virtuality surrounding them.

    Curated by Karsten Lund, this exhibition features artists whose work remedies this digital overdose. Bark, bronze, rust, and dirt are just

  • picks August 04, 2014

    Nairy Baghramian

    Nothing plain is simple. This apparent paradox encapsulates some of the mercurial magic found in Nairy Baghramian’s first foray into the Midwestern United States. Curated by Susanne Ghez, the exhibition demonstrates Baghramian’s particular deftness with sculptural form and savvy in an engaging exhibition context.

    Take the large low-lying sculpture French Curve (all works 2014), which occupies the Art Institute’s terrace. Opting not to battle with the Chicago skyline, the artist created a work that, from the initial approach, conjures up associations of a scooped-out corporality—linking the human

  • picks February 25, 2014

    Sarah Pierce

    Befitting its dyadic title, Sarah Pierce’s exhibition “Lost Illusions/Illusions Perdue” prompts two possible interpretations: one based in denotation and the other in connotation—although trying to untangle one from the other is not so simple. Forming something akin to an institutional memory-based scatter piece, Pierce’s recent work taps into the Banff Center’s varied history, with its assortment of ceramics from former artists-in-residence, kept by instructor Ed Bamiling, and a four-channel video displaying students participating in Brecht-like learning plays. Meanwhile, copies of archival

  • picks December 30, 2013

    Lauren Edwards

    For her first solo exhibition in Chicago, Lauren Edwards has staged a subtle sculptural onslaught of photography’s indexical claims to reality. In so doing the artist scrambles our ontological categories of sculpture and photography with equal pith. By creating a sculpture installation that has the veneer of a contemporary photographic display, replete with all the tropes of the documentary and the fictive, the artist punctures the pretense of the oft-trodden discourse surrounding notions of reality construction. The two black-and-white photographs that make up The Baker and Apprentices (all