ANNA DAUČÍKOVÁ & ASSAF EVRON: FOR
June 8 – Sept 14, 2018
This exhibition coupled the work of Chicago-based Israeli photo-artist Assaf Evron with that of Slovak feminist video pioneer Anna Daučíková. The immediate occasion for this pairing was a shared interest in Soviet-era artists of little renown but substantial visual impact: Ukrainian native Valery Lamakh (1925–1978), best remembered for his decorative tilework on Kiev’s Stalin-era residential buildings, and Israeli muralist Shlomo Eliraz (1912–1994), who created public artworks in Herzliya and Tel Aviv. Lamakh was the subject of Daučíková’s elegiac video installation Along the Axis of Affinity (2015). Eliraz’s oeuvre was the centerpiece of Evron’s large-scale, site-specific photo work, itself part of a larger inquiry into the lost utopia of 1970s urbanism. In revisiting the legacies of these forgotten artists, Daučíková Evron revisited the trials and tribulations of the public art complex at a time of dwindling opportunities for artistic thinking on an architectural scale. In addition to this coupling, Daučíková premiered five video vignettes in which she used books from her personal library to shed light on the puzzle of gender in Russian literature. On the Neubauer Collegium terrace Evron presented four new sculptures inspired by his ongoing research into vernacular architectural traditions. Consisting of brightly colored tiles reminiscent of Mediterranean street life, this suite of quasi-minimalist objects doubles as a backdrop for the social life of the Neubauer Collegium’s patio. The exhibition’s subtitle, FOR, paid homage to the propositional nature of these artists’ projects and practices. Whether they salvage little-known pioneers from certain art-historical oblivion or re-energize the worn-out utopian aspiration of dissolving art into life and vice versa, Daučíková and Evron both stand “for” something or someone: art, artists.
Curated by Dieter Roelstraete
CECILIA VICUÑA: PALABRARMAS
March 29 – June 2, 2018
This was the first monographic exhibition dedicated to an important yet little-known body of work bridging the gap between Vicuña’s intertwined activities as a poet and visual artist. Vicuña’s “Palabrarmas” are visual anagrams made in exile in London and Bogotá after the Pinochet-led coup of 1973; they are reminiscent of the concrete poetry idiom that was reaching its critical apogee at the time. The exhibition’s centerpiece was a suite of drawings made after a trip across the Amazon in 1977, and originally intended for publication as a long-form visual poem in Colombia in 1978. Forty years after this cycle’s inception, it finally saw the light of day as a stand-alone publication on the occasion of its Chicago debut. The exhibition also included banner-like works in cloth, remakes of art pieces that did not survive their debut as performance props in public space, and photographs documenting the various uses to which the Palabrarmas were put at the time. The titular neologism is a contraction of palabras (words) and armas (weapons), a nod to the spirit of militancy infusing so much progressive Latin American art in the era of juntas. Vicuña’s Palabrarmas, however, are also eruptions of color and sensuous pleasure—words as weapons that are also, more innocently, words to live by.
Curated by Dieter Roelstraete