Critics’ Picks

Untitled (Dragging), 2004. Installation view.

Untitled (Dragging), 2004. Installation view.


Stan Shellabarger

Western Exhibitions
1709 W Chicago Second Floor
November 13–December 18, 2004

An earnest devotee of the Acconci-Burden School of Performative Endurance is a rare find these days, but a trip to this weekends-only gallery will net you a sighting of Stan Shellabarger, who is also influenced by Richard Long’s outdoor adventures. For this show, Shellabarger dons sandpaper-tipped cotton gloves to rub a hip-height line through a combination of foam insulation and drywall covering several of the gallery’s walls. He’s there for the duration of his exhibition and was duly walking back and forth before, during, and after my off-hours Wednesday visit. The mark made—the width of his hand and thinner near the corners where two walls meet—bears touching human imperfections. The rest of the show is a mix of objects and documentation that serve as an index of several years’ worth of performance, ranging from the quotidian (all his wax paper butter wrappers, chronologically arranged; an archive of fingernail and toenail clippings; entire notebooks filled with his signature) to the poetic (photographs depicting his twelve-hour circular walks marking the spring and autumn equinoxes; a series of twenty-six drawings with marks, reminiscent of a prison-cell wall, tabulating every breath he took during an eight-hour period). Shellabarger’s dedication is evidence that the trails blazed in the late 1960s and early 1970s are still branching off in intriguing directions.