previews

  • Prasanta Mukherjee pushing his work Aftermath, 2001, at the opening event for Art on the Move, Vithalbhai Patel House, New Delhi, March 18, 2001. From “The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India Since 1989.” Photo: Ram Rahman.

    “The Sahmat Collective: Art And Activism In India Since 1989”

    Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago
    5550 South Greenwood Avenue
    February 14 - June 9

    Curated by Ram Rahman and Jessica Moss

    The Delhi-based Sahmat Collective, a forum for politically minded artists, writers, poets, musicians, and thespians, was formed in 1989, in the aftermath of the murder of Communist playwright Safdar Hashmi. Presenting roughly 170 items from the group’s two decades of activity—archival material, artworks, posters, and videos of performances—this sprawling exhibition will mix street and high culture (per the collective’s credo), thus challenging the predominantly showy reputation of contemporary Indian art, the markets for which tend to reward the spectacular. This survey will not only demonstrate the mark that Sahmat has made on the Indian cultural landscape since the nation’s economic liberalization in the early 1990s but also offer a chance to reexamine more broadly the tangled relationship between art, politics, and activism: Can this rocky ménage-à-trois still be put to good use? A theory-heavy catalogue, with essays by Marxist thinkers such as art historian Geeta Kapur, tackles such tough questions.

  • Jason Lazarus, Untitled, 2011, found photos, board, blanket, tape, hardware, 33 x 29".

    Jason Lazarus

    Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)
    220 East Chicago Avenue
    March 19 - June 18

    Curated by Steven L. Bridges

    In 2006, the MCA Chicago gave Jason Lazarus his first institutional solo exhibition. He was known then as a photographer, and he’s sort of still known as one now, but as this display of new and recent work should clarify, Lazarus is not a photographer in any conventional sense. Re-created protest signs from Occupy Wall Street demonstrations will be available for museumgoers to shoulder during their visit; a music student will learn a Chopin nocturne live on a piano installed in the gallery; photos found in a New Orleans antiques shop after Hurricane Katrina will be hung on the wall, still taped up in their packing blanket. Images become afterimages, permanence gives way to becoming, pictures are retired—and Lazarus thus proposes ways to practice photography critically in an image-saturated society.