• Sheng Qi, Memories (Me), 2000.

    Sheng Qi, Memories (Me), 2000.

    Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video From China

    Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)
    220 East Chicago Avenue
    October 2, 2004–January 16, 2005

    Asia Society | New York
    725 Park Avenue
    June 11–September 5, 2004

    Seattle Art Museum
    1300 First Avenue
    February 10–May 15, 2005

    Curated by Wu Hung and Christopher Phillips

    Contemporary art from China is the latest hot ticket, so it’s hard to see how this survey of Chinese photography and video from the past decade can miss. Given that most of its fifty artists are exhibiting in the US for the first time, talent pickers should be out in force. Since Chinese art photography was subject until recently to an officially sanctioned, academic aesthetic rooted in Pictorialism (filtered through the traditions of Chinese painting), the 125 works here, which smack of postmodernist cultural critique, are sure to come as a shock to American eyes.

    Travels to the Smart Museum of Art and MCA, Chicago, Oct. 2–Jan. 16, 2005; Seattle Art Museum, Feb. 10, 2005–May 15, 2005; and other venues.

  • Kai Althoff, Aleph, 1999.

    Kai Althoff, Aleph, 1999.

    Kai Althoff

    ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
    25 Harbor Shore Drive
    May 26–September 6, 2004

    Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)
    220 East Chicago Avenue
    September 23, 2004–January 16, 2005

    Curated by Nicholas Baume

    Tormented, sweet, angry, expressionistic, nostalgic, utterly contemporary—Kai Althoff’s eclectic artwork is all that and more. The Cologne-based artist is known on American shores mostly for watercolors and oils that evoke nineteenth-century German history, folklore, and Biedermeier genre scenes or, in darker moments, the baleful narratives of George Grosz. But Althoff’s first survey at a US museum includes over 140 works in a range of media from the past twenty-five years: paintings, photography, works on paper, installations, and videos, as well as audio presentation of his musical output. The artist-as-polymath also collaborated on the design for the catalogue, which includes essays by Clarissa Dalrymple and Diedrich Diederichsen.

    Travels to the MCA, Chicago, Sept. 23–Jan. 16, 2005.

  • From the series Some Thames, 1999-present.

    From the series Some Thames, 1999-present.

    Roni Horn

    The Art Institute of Chicago
    111 South Michigan Avenue
    May 25–September 5, 2004

    Curated by James Rondeau

    For Roni Horn’s show, over eighty photographs of the eponymous river in her ongoing Some Thames are installed in a lateral sequence coursing through the Art Institute’s public spaces (collection and exhibition galleries) and private recesses (the library and administrative offices). On view in its entirety for the first time in the US, the series is accompanied by Saying Water, Horn’s slide show and performance comprising visual and historical anecdotes relating to the Thames. Here, the dark surface opacity of Some Thames’s mutable, oily material is penetrated by the haunting narratives of suicide and drowning that lurked too long beneath the surface. To get lost in the formal inquiry of Horn’s subtle enunciations is to risk getting caught in her undertow.

  • From Standard Kiosk (Chicago), 2004. Computer realization by Chuck Seen.

    From Standard Kiosk (Chicago), 2004. Computer realization by Chuck Seen.

    Dan Peterman

    Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)
    220 East Chicago Avenue
    June 26–September 12, 2004

    Curated by Lynne Warren

    “Environmental” is the lazy way of describing Dan Peterman’s work. While his art is about resource recovery— he incorporates recycled materials into his projects—it’s also alchemical, sociological, and activist. Formally indebted to Smithson and Judd, Peterman’s pioneering work still holds underground standing in his home city of Chicago, but his first major survey in the US should change that. Seventeen works made since 1985 constitute the show’s bulk, while an archive features site-specific and nonextant projects. Peterman has also created four new installations, including a truck retrofitted with recycled scientific equipment. Most in keeping with Peterman’s ethos is a group of waste receptacles altered to accommodate social uses and created in collaboration with the Chicago Park District.