Jana Gunstheimer

The Art Institute of Chicago

What if several elite and prestigious landmark homes and apartment complexes around your city metamorphosed, suddenly and inexplicably, into blue-collar, working-class residences? Such was the premise of “Status L Phenomenon,” Jana Gunstheimer’s first museum exhibition in the US. Gunstheimer envisions what would happen if a pair of century-old Chicago mansions and the Miesian Lake Point Tower on Navy Pier were to experience this transubstantiation, and she documents aspects of the displacement—physical and psychological—of their residents in a series of trompe l’oeil watercolors, two mixed-media wall installations, and a fictitious tabloid newspaper, Chicago News.

The suggested metaphor seems at first to be one of economic and social comeuppance, with the proletariat overthrowing the haute-bourgeoisie in a kind of degentrification, or squatters triumphans. But that’s actually not what

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