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Reflection: a video program

Tuesday, August 25, 2009–Saturday, November 21, 2009

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In the exhibition Reflection: a video program, video works by five artists linked by their varying approaches to artistic agency were shown in succession in the gallery, one artist per day of the week. How do artists conceive of the work they do? How do they picture themselves? Is the proposition of artistic agency a proposition for individual agency as well? In video works by Phyllis Baldino, Alex Hubbard, Glenn Ligon, Andrea Zittel, and Patricia Esquivias, featuring each artist ’s voice, activity, and milieu, the question of individual responsibility was variously addressed.

Baldino Coffeetable XlIn her Gray Area series of works, Phyllis Baldino creates actions with studio and domestic objects. Low-tech and often absurd, the videos document the artist in the process of assembling found objects, taking them apart, reconstructing them, or transforming their function. Typically, the artist’s actions result in oppositions, contradictions or incongruities revealing ironic gaps between the objects and the meanings assigned to them. The artist is proposed as the means of philosophical disclosure.

Alex Hubbard ’s video Screens for Recalling the Blackout
features studio manipulations of material for the camera. In previous works, the artist who affects these actions is often unseen, but here glimpses of Hubbard can be made out, forcing recognition of the actions on camera as performance, demystifying the gags.

In The Orange and Blue Feelings,
Ligon depicts several visits to his therapist. As proposed by Migon Nixon, Ligon ’s disturbance of the therapist/patient dynamic intertwines art-making and psychoanalytic transference, asserting a self-reflexive agency that avoids the narcissistic impulse classically attributed to video.

Made in a documentary-like fashion, Andrea Zittel ’s Small Liberties is a sequence of photographs given narration by intertitles that advance the artist ’s autonomy as agency. By ostensibly describing her Wagon Station project, Zittel tells a partial history of her own desire to avoid bureaucratic systems, as well as the history and beliefs of the individuals who adapt and personalize Zittel ’s Wagon Stations
for themselves.

Patricia Esquivias is a storyteller. In a laconic voice, she narrates looping subjective takes on history proffering for the camera a seemingly improvisational set of photographs, notes, and computer images to weight the story. The informal nature of this proposition of material—presented most typically as the artist ’s hand holding a photograph up for the camera—and the artist ’s unlikely combination of facts suggest the artist ’s storytelling to be a model for history-making: a democratic, continuous, permeable and participatory activity.

Reflection ’s choice of subject matter and exhibition strategy were born of Gallery 400 ’s positioning within an educational institution. The intention of the exhibition is for the young artists studying in Art and Design Hall to pause to consider their own positioning as artists.

Reflection: a video program is presented concurrently with Gnathonemus Petersii, HALFULLand Project #12.

Related:

EXHIBITION SUPPORT

Reflection: a video program is supported by the College of Architecture and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago, and a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

EXHIBITION ESSAY

Reflection: a video program

Lorelei Stewart

In Reflection, disparate video works by five artists are linked by their varying approaches to artistic agency. How do artists conceive of the work they do? How do they picture themselves? How do these works from the last decade propose individual agency? Is the proposition of artistic agency a proposition for individual agency, as well?

In video works by Phyllis Baldino, Patricia Esquivias, Alex Hubbard, Glenn Ligon, and Andrea Zittel, featuring the artist ’s voice, activity, and milieu, the question of agency and individual responsibility is variously addressed.

In her Grey Area series of works, Phyllis Baldino creates actions with studio and domestic objects. Low-tech and often absurd, the videos document the artist in the process of assembling found objects, taking them apart, reconstructing them, or transforming their function. Typically, the artist’s actions result in oppositions, contradictions or incongruities thus revealing ironic gaps between the objects and the meanings assigned to them. The artist is proposed as the means of philosophical disclosure.

Patricia Esquivias is a storyteller. In a laconic voice, she narrates looping, subjective takes on history proffering for the camera a seemingly improvisational set of photographs, notes and computer images to weight the story. The informal nature of this proposition of material—presented most typically as the artist ’s hand holding a photograph up for the camera—and the artist ’s unlikely combination of facts suggest the artist ’s storytelling as a model for history-making as a democratic, continuous, permeable and participatory activity.

Alex Hubbard ’s video Screens for Recalling the Black Out features studio manipulations of material for the camera. In previous works, the artist who affects these actions was often unseen, but here glimpses of Hubbard can be made out, forcing recognition of the actions on camera as performance, demystifying the gags.

In The Orange and Blue Feelings, Ligon depicts several visits to his therapist. As proposed by Migon Nixon, Ligon ’s disturbance of the therapist/patient dynamic intertwines art-making and psychoanalytic transference, asserting a self-reflexive agency that avoids the narcissistic impulse classically attributed to video.

In a documentary-like fashion, Andrea Zittel ’s Small Liberties is a sequence of photographs given narration by intertitles that advance the artist ’s autonomy as agency. By ostensibly describing her Wagon Station project, Zittel tells a partial history of her own desire to avoid bureaucratic systems, as well as the history and beliefs of the individuals who adapted and personalized Zittel ’s Wagon Stations for themselves.

Structure of the Exhibition:

Exhibited as a recurrent weeklong program, the selected works are shown one artist per day. Each work is scheduled for a specific day of the week: Phyllis Baldino ’s work is shown on Tuesday, Alex Hubbard on Wednesday, Glenn Ligon on Thursday, Andrea Zittel on Friday and Patricia Esquivias on Saturday. In structuring the program this way, it is hoped that over the course of the three month run of the program, visitors will have enough opportunity to see each body of work in full.

Reflection ’s choice of subject matter and exhibition strategy are born of Gallery 400’s site within an educational institution. It is hoped that through the program young artists of tomorrow, studying in Art and Design Hall, may consider their own positioning as artists. Additionally, classes in sculpture and performance and non-narrative cinema can use specific works in the class context. And the expanded exhibition format invites multiple visits; hopefully giving students a sense of familiarity and ease in the gallery, also enabled by other Gallery initiatives.

****

Lorelei Stewart, Reflection: A Video Program, August, 2009.

This essay was distributed in the gallery during the run of the exhibition.

EXHIBITION CHECKLIST

Phyllis Baldino

The Gray Area Series:

Cosmetic/Not Cosmetic

Tape Case/Not Tape Case
Cheese Board/Not Cheese Board

Coffeetable/Not Coffeetable

Wine Rack/Not Wine Rack

Bookends/Not Bookends, 1993–94
video, 29:49 min.

Patricia Esquivias

Folklore I, 2005
video, 14:43 min.

Folklore II, 2008
video, 13:33 min.

Folklore IV, 2009
video, 20:00 min.

Alex Hubbard

Screens for Recalling the Blackout, 2008
video, 8:51 min.

Glenn Ligon

The Orange and Blue Feelings, 2003
video, 51:36 min.

Andrea Zittel

Small Liberties, 2006
video, 25:00 min.

PRINT COLLATERAL

Postcard: HALFULL, Project #12, Reflection: a video program

Poster: HALFULL, Project #12, Reflection: a video program – Opening Reception

Poster: HALFULL, Reflection: a video program

MEDIA COVERAGE

Isé, Claudine. “Michael Ruglio-Misurell, Project #12; Kay Rosen; Andrea Zittel.” badatsports.com, Sept. 21, 2009.

“Reflection: A Video Program.” chicagoartistsresource.org, Aug. 25, 2009.

Waxman, Lori. “Michael Ruglio-Misurell, Project #12.” Chicago Tribune, Sept. 11, 2009.

Wenzel, Erik. “Reflection: A Video Program.” artslant.com, Sept. 7, 2009.

CURATOR BIOGRAPHY

Lorelei Steart Headshot1Lorelei Stewart, Director of Gallery 400 since 2000, has organized over 40 exhibitions, including the Joyce Award-winning exhibition Edgar Arceneaux: The Alchemy of Comedy…Stupid (2006). In 2002, she initiated the acclaimed At the Edge: Innovative Art in Chicago series, a commissioning program that encouraged Chicago area artists’ experimental practices. Stewart currently serves as Interim Director of the Master of Arts in Museum and Exhibition Studies program at University of Illinois at Chicago. She holds a BA from Smith College, a BFA from Corcoran College of Art and Design, and an MA in Curatorial Studies from Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.