SECOND CITY PSYCHASTHENIA Opens 1/12 at Andrea Meislin Gallery
|January 12 – February 18, 2012
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 12, 6 – 8 pm
In Second City Psychasthenia curator Daniel Bauer presents eight artists who met in a City Within a City, at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where Bauer is an Assistant Professor in the Photography Department.
On January 20th at 6 pm, Andrea Meislin Gallery will be hosting a Conversation with the Artists of Second City Psychasthenia. To RSVP for this free event, please firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I found a moth. Its wings frayed at The Edges. Its colors were unusual, or maybe not (I'm not an expert on these things), but I had the sense that it was something I hadn't seen before. Usually moths are monochrome, almost colorless. They dance on the periphery and then they disappear. Even when the occasional carcass, like this one, lands in a dusty corner, it remains an exception. Where do the others, the ones that pass through and aren't entombed in an apartment, or the ones that never make the mistake of coming inside, go to die? I thought it might turn to dust as soon as I touched it. But it didn't – it was dead, rotting but solid. I wondered what it would look like as a photograph. Photography gives the dead life."
In WandeRing Thomas, Jose Ferreira explores the notion of doubt embodied as a state between belief and disbelief. Through a series of photographs, ink drawings, and prints, he emphasizes a state of reality in which the mind remains suspended between two contradictory propositions, unable to assent to either.WandeRing Thomas refers to Caravaggio's 1602 painting, The Incredulity of Saint Thomas.
In the series Revisions, Gwynne Johnson accentuates the disappointments and frustrations of memory through an accumulation of photographs of men who resemble her deceased father. Photographed from behind, these anonymous figures function as vaguely descriptive armatures upon which to perform acts of construction. The inevitable insufficiency of each photograph to close the gap between the depicted form and the absent figure drives the repetition of image making. In this pursuit of images, memories are replaced in quick succession as each father is erased by its successor, ultimately widening the rift.
The photographs are made at a race track, during the brief period that rational time is suspended between the starting bell and the photo finish. While everyone is transfixed at the rail, Gwynne wagers on the wagerers from behind with a camera.
There is ritual in looking, in photographing and in research. Joan Didion, asks, "Had he not warned me when I forgot my own notebook that the ability to make a note when something came to mind was the difference between being able to write and not being able to write?" I ask the same question about my camera and making photographs. Carrying the camera is an obsession. Without it, the specters of unmade photographs haunt me.
Shot in the studio on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, emergency lights stream through a window and cast spells on the dreary winter glow otherwise occupying the interior. Geography and ghosts collide. Sullivan County, meet Pennsylvania, meet Chicago, meet Manhattan. I am moving back and forth between mediums and places - back and forth between water and light and dust.
Kristin Nason's Decoys are responses to contemporary pressures for multiplicity and dispersion. These human scale objects, assembled from readily available cast off goods, function as tactical placeholders in a kind of on-going, simulated war game against unspecified opponents. Often constructed in haste, these mounds of materials serve as barely adequate fill-ins or covers in a playful defensive strategy of evasion and substitution, addressing the demands of a culture wherein singularity is a liability.
Through physical engagement with common objects and materials, she explores the capacities and limitations of the body in relation to it's environment. The range of materials and techniques she employs reflects the schizophrenic tendencies of contemporary culture. Thus, the work explodes outward as a seemingly erratic series of singular experiments, but when considered as a whole is a web of interrelated games situated at the interface of the self and a crash-test world.
In his work, Duty and Distraction, Portraits of the Middle Management, Learning Ross, currently a student at SAIC, literally measures and logs the distance of extraterritoriality in the hope of rendering it insurmountable. The Palmer House Hotel and The Art School both share an intersection at Monroe and Wabash in the heart of Chicago's downtown loop. Learning and his fellow art student assistants have set up an improvised portrait studio in a back room of the hotel and concentrate on documenting middle management. The camera and photo op are the MacGuffin. As the formal portrait takes place, the students engage the employees in informal conversation, which is carefully logged and transcribed. "The procedure itself", as Walter Benjamin relates to early long exposures "caused the models to live not out of the instant, but into it; during the long exposure they grew, as it were into the image."
The diametrical opposition of the hotel to the art school, the salaried masses to the bohemian art school students, begins as snark but the hostility of pseudo anthropology quickly collapses into anxiety. It is an exercise of internal tribal discipline. As a definition of "us and them", these sitters embody for art students the very idea of the collapse into a day job. The art students need them to be the "Other" but the proximity is a constant reminder that the white collar workers were drawn to the second city just as the students and their teachers were. Their portraits all intermingle on the wall with the anonymous and generic grey place holders for the "no shows." From Nadar to August Sander to Employee of the Month and back again.
Anna Shteynshleyger's path to Chicago and the SAIC took her first to Des Plaines, Illinois, City of Destiny(work from the series of the same name will be on view at the International Center of Photography). In the series Escalator, originally presented while a student at Yale University, she continuously descends, day in day out, a short staircase adjacent to an escalator at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York. Armed with a flash and a hand held medium format camera she "pops" random subjects as they ascend.
The work is reminiscent of the later series Heads by her teacher Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Hers is a snub nosed, point blank assault on the unsuspecting who are "called" out of their continuum while she orbits the Zone with her subjects. His is premeditated, cartesian, long range sharpshooting. The difference is the tactile versus the telescopic. Looking at the two series is like seeing Jack Ruby take out Lee Harvey Oswald in advance.
A Stand In Color is a reconfigured sculpture first shown at the Socrates Sculpture Park in the summer of 2011. The piece references the ubiquitous feature of the urban landscape. In the constant flux of New York City development, the only permanent feature is the blue construction fence.
More On: Daniel Bauer, The Edge, Ring Thomas, Joan Didion.