Rachel Whiteread

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA Chicago)

With casts that are vulnerable variations of seemingly mundane and mute objects, Rachel Whiteread creates poignant and melancholy phantoms. Her skewed selection of themes from domestic life, her inventive and poetic use of rather surprising materials, and her thoughtful and unexpected installation of these pieces gives them a decided resonance. Whiteread echoes her subjects, but in her system of altered repetition she both displaces and intensifies meaning.

Beds—or more accurately, mattresses—are the foundation for half the pieces in this smallish overview. In every case the mattress is divorced from its function: either cast in two parts stacked on top of one another, or placed as if propped up against a wall, or set up vertically. The mattress as a site of a much assailed and private activity is decontextualized only to be reinvested with ambiguous content. In Untitled (Double Amber Bed)

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