Critics’ Picks

Andreas Siqueland, Winter Journey/American Dream, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 10 1/2 x 38’.

Andreas Siqueland, Winter Journey/American Dream, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 10 1/2 x 38’.

Chicago

“Lands End”

Logan Center Exhibitions, University of Chicago
915 East 60th Street Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
January 9–March 15, 2015

Curated by Zachary Cahill and Katherine Harvath, “Lands End” updates the enduring genre of landscape art with new critical, conceptual, and even romantic perspectives on mytho-geography, featuring works by thirteen artists, including Susan Hiller, Hans Haacke, and Andreas Siqueland. Since landscape artists create the world, or worlds, “Lands End” is unafraid of dipping into extant pastoral fantasies—from the tourist destination at Land’s End in Cornwall to the outdoorsy clothier Land’s End—and the show itself is an object essay with a sentimental mood about nature. For instance, Winter Journey/American Dream, 2014, a rose-hued, mural-like painting of a mountainscape by Norway’s Siqueland, is a gorgeous utopian antidote to Haacke’s West Bank. Valley Near Abu Dis, 2010–2014, a scenic vinyl poster of the rocky border between Israel and Palestine.

At the exhibition’s heart is a quiet yellow bird. This canary resides in a rustic wooden cage, part of Claire Pentecost’s for the body without organs to sense, 2014. It is a cheap but effective emotional trick—is there nothing sadder than a bird in a cage? (Yes: one that lives in a gallery.) The installation is supposed to reference a coal miner’s warning and the looming apocalypse. It works; the artist also smartly lines the birdcage with personal stationary.

Another standout artwork is Oliver Lutz’s Stella at the playground, 2015. A CCTV transposes the image of a child onto a giant black monochrome painting, which (because of an infrared surveillance camera), is also accompanied by you, the viewer, in a quick act of augmented reality. It’s instantly uplifting—even more so because the world is about to end.