Critics’ Picks

View of “Lise Haller Baggesen: HATORADE RETROGRADE,” 2016.

View of “Lise Haller Baggesen: HATORADE RETROGRADE,” 2016.


Lise Haller Baggesen

2738 W. North Ave.
May 6–June 11, 2016

It’s daring that this venerable arts nonprofit—which came under new leadership at the beginning of the year, announced deficits and staff layoffs, then moved out of its premises of over a decade—would resume programming with Lise Haller Baggesen’s dystopian exhibition “HATORADE RETROGRADE.” As if the world had fallen apart but the party persisted, this moody boutique peddles a survivalist feminism that cuts across styles, layering glam with grunge, pop with punk. A cast of characters represented as dress forms donned in recycled fashions caked in glitter glue plays host to a set of sound tracks that Baggesen commissioned from a community of women artists, curators, and activists. For EUROMANCER (all works cited 2016), a glittery black-attired figure befitting a Kim Gordon installation is voiced by curator Allison Glenn—her speech echoes like propaganda issuing from speakers in The Hunger Games as she theorizes problems of history, time, and colonization. Ranging from melodic funk jams to monologues addressing reproductive rights, the audio for the nine other works emerges from the gathering darkness of our current political discourse.

While the show begins with MS. PEACE IN THE US 2033, a red-white-and-blue-clad, pregnant beauty queen, that palette with its accompanying weight is gradually blended into a rich and troublesome purple-black—wherein not only lurid parodies of a fully capitalized and bankrupt future churn, but also the recuperative potential of a matriarchal revision of art history’s canon. Baggesen’s heroines also look upon a salon of ravishing paintings that remix Sonia Delaunay’s curvaceous geometries into velvet piecework and shimmering impasto, becoming manifestos for restyling our roles within corrupt systems of power.