met
Marissa Lee Benedict & David Rueter, Zachary Cahill, Theaster Gates, Michelle Grabner, Tony Lewis, Matthew Metzger, Geof Oppenheimer, Dan Peterman, William Pope.L
Georganiseerd door
Dieter Roelstraete and Abigail Winograd in collaboration with Eléonore de Sadeleer

The Works: Artists in and from Chicago’ aan die, thema’s zoals werk, arbeid en inspanning verkent via de Werken van negen kunstenaars gevestigd in Chicago. Chicago kan moeilijk worden bestempeld als een “soft city” in vergelijking met haar tegenhangers aan beide kusten. Zoals de dichter Carl Sandburg het omschreef, het is een “stad van grote schouders”, onmiskenbaar een metropool van blauwe boorden, het hart van de werkende klasse, man en vrouw. Alleen al om die reden vormt Chicago een geschikte locatie voor het verkennen van de relatie tussen kunst en werk, arbeid en inspanning.

The Works presenteert diverse interpretaties van deze uitspraak, gezien door de ogen van inwoners van Chicago: Marissa Lee Benedict & David Reuter, Theaster Gates, en Dan Peterman contextualiseren hun multidisciplinaire toepassingen binnen een breder spectrum van onderzoek en activisme, waarbij ze eerst en vooral de artistieke productie bekijken als een medium voor ecologische en sociale reflectie. Andere artiesten verkennen in de tentoonstelling de kunstcreatie en haar onlosmakelijke verbondenheid met het dagelijkse leven, zoals bij de papieren weefsels van Michelle Grabner, of de locatiespecifieke muurtekst van Tony Lewis – speciaal ontworpen voor deze tentoonstelling – die gebaseerd is op geselecteerde uittreksels van de klassieker Life’s Little Instruction Book, een compendium met raadgevingen. Lewis zal eveneens een locatiespecifieke tekening van groot formaat tentoonstellen die op een nabijgelegen basketbalveld werd gerealiseerd voor deze expositie en zijn werk nog meer doet aanleunen bij de verbondenheid tussen kunst en het dagelijkse leven.

Matthew Metzger en Geof Oppenheimer bestuderen de connectie tussen de kunstcreatie, het lichaam en de arbeid: Metzger’s nieuwe reeks van fotorealistische schilderijen van het lemmet van antieke machetes, bekijkt de schouder – niet het hoofd – als het lijfelijk epicentrum van arbeid en abstractie. Oppenheimer van zijn kant verkent de binaire verbindingen tussen de arbeid van witte boorden en blauwe boorden in zijn “Embarrassing Statue”. Hier ligt een Brooks Brothers broek, embleem van de Amerikaanse witte boorden, gewikkeld rond de enkels van een ranke marmeren en stalen sculptuur, plomp (en fallisch) neergedrukt door een zware bladblazer.

Tot slot zoeken Zachary Cahill en William Pope L. met hun gevarieerde, vaak verwarrende tekstuele schilderijen naar de raakvlakken tussen taal, consumentisme en sociale gedachtegang. Voor deze tentoonstelling zal Cahill een nieuw schilderij aanbrengen op het plafond van de ruimte, terwijl Pope L. een video zal tonen en een schilderij uit een recente reeks die betekenis en taal met elkaar confronteren door geheimzinnige, sociaal beladen zinnen te gebruiken (Gold people hang their children from their servants/Gouden mensen hangen hun kinderen op aan hun dienaars).

Wat uiteindelijk de kunstenaars van The Works met elkaar verbindt, is hun hybride aanpak van het artistieke gebeuren. Door het lesgeven, het leiden van een gemeenschap, het multidisciplinair onderzoek en het schrijven te integreren in hun toepassingen, tarten ze de grenzen van de kunstproductie als zuiver studio gebaseerde bezigheid. Aldus ontstaat er een unieke benadering eigen aan Chicago; een benadering die praktijkgericht en oprecht is, en die ook diep geworteld zit in de raakvlakken tussen kunst en leven. Brussel biedt, als stad met een lange industriële geschiedenis en een identiteit die blijvend evolueert door de veranderende verhouding tussen arbeid en kapitaal, een geschikte Europese context voor dit unieke portret van Chicago en haar kunstenaars.

The Works staat onder curatele van Dieter Roelstraete en Abigail Winograd in samenwerking met Eléonore de Sadeleer. Dieter Roelstraete, voorheen Manilow Senior Curator bij het Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, is momenteel lid van het curateleteam van Documenta 14. Abigail Winograd is schrijfster, curator, doctoranda en leeft in Chicago. De directeur van het CAB is Eléonore de Sadeleer.

Matthew Metzger, La condition, 2015 Acrylic and oil on panel and Tony Lewis, 157-Take the time to smell the roses, 2015, graphite powder, nails, rubber bands, variable dimensions

MATTHEW METZGER

Born in 1978 in Atlanta, US

Matthew Metzger received his MFA from the University of Chicago in 2009 and attended the Skowhegan school of sculpture and painting. His meticulously rendered photorealist paintings of antique machete blades, painted on square canvases using the selfsame blade to determine the horizon line and the size of the panel, reflect the artist’s interest in the relationship between abstraction and labor. This quandary stems from Metzger’s consideration of painting’s physical (i.e. bodily) source, a question promp- ted by the artist’s reading of a statement made by the art historian Michael Fried in the 1965 essay Three American Painters, in which Fried identified the wrist as the corporeal locus of painting. This led Metzger to consider the location of Abstract Expressionism (“ac- tion painting”) in the shoulder, aligning this type of gestural painting with a specific kind of labor as well with protest, conjuring the image of an indignantly raised fist.

In Metzger’s thinking, the Machete is the only blade that signifies a labor that is inherently connected to the shoulder. Paradoxically, Metzger’s painting practice, defined by rigor, dis- cipline and monastic attention to detail, is primarily a “wrist” type of work—and labor. A cerebral approach to be sure, and Metzger has consequently remarked that “perhaps now the location of both labor and expression is to be found in the head instead.”

Geof Oppenheimer

GEOF OPPENHEIMER

Born in 1973 in Washington, D.C.

Geof Oppenheimer is an artist and teacher in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago. He confronts political, social, and artistic binaries as fascism versus democracy, detention versus agency, and finish fetish versus analogue artisanship through a variety of artistic strategies including film, photography and a sculptural practice concerned with seemingly traditional questions of weight, volume, figuration and autonomy. His work is an ambiguous ode to labor and the laborer. Oppenheimer’s portrait of the unknown worker combines the hallmarks of blue-collar labor (heavy machinery) with the tools of the artist (marble) and the sartorial trappings of the finance industry (the suit hugging the statue’s ankles), with the artist presumably synthesizing both worlds. Oppenheimer imagines a downtrodden laborer, defeated and exposed; equal measure Marxist indictment and Freudian analysis, Oppenheimer’s statue acknowledges the increasingly precarious position of male-identified labor in the twenty-first century.

Dan Peterman, Plastic Bones, 2011 Post-consumer reproducessed plastic, 76 bags

DAN PETERMAN

Born in 1960 in Minneapolis, MN

Dan Peterman is a longtime resident of Chicago and influential teacher in the city’s thriving art community. Dan Peterman is a pioneer of socially oriented art practice informed by environmental concerns. He began working with plastic in the 1980s. Peterman discovered a recycling company based on the South Side of Chicago engaged in early experiments with reusing plastics. He ended up acquiring the company’s reject production — tons of recycled plastic deformed by shrinkage. Through a laborious process of manual treatment, Peterman transformed that refuse into thousands of individual bones. These objects become the building blocks of site-specific installations.

More recently, Peterman has started to use the same material to create «paintings». Using industrial byproducts to paint pictures evocative of a seemingly people-less natural world, he draws attention to the less than harmonious coexistence of industry and nature, work and leisure.

William Pope L., Syllogism (CAB version), 2015, wood, paint, fabric, monitor, video

WILLIAM POPE.L

Born in 1955 in Newark, NJ

William Pope L. has been making multi-disciplinary works since the 1970s, and has exhibited internationally, including New York, London, Los Angeles, Vienna, Montreal, Berlin, Zurich, Brussels and Tokyo. This is the first time Pope.L has decided to show Syllogism as a stand-alone video work. As a logical figure, a syllogism is a form of deductive reasoning where a conclusion is drawn from two given statements, one major and one minor, both assumed to be true. The artist has spoken about the work in terms of an irresolvable friction between the sense of language and the non-sense of the body. A comparable tension between performance and work, moreover, once again highlighting the chasm that gapes between the body and language, also characterizes the artist’s verbose painterly practice.

Tony Lewis, 157-Take the time to smell the roses, 2015, graphite powder, nails, rubber bands, variable dimensions

TONY LEWIS

Born in 1986 in Los Angeles, CA

Tony Lewis made a recent series of highly physical, quasi-performative drawings. — a type of three-dimensional picture-making that engages the whole working body—departs from an artist statement, based on found quotations, that confronts and describes the past, present, and future of race relations in the United States (the mantra starts with a frequently half-legible “people of color”). Working in the tradition of other visual artists who analyze language and its consequences, or utilize words to gain a sculptural effect—think of Lawrence Weiner and Robert Barry, Jenny Holzer and Glenn Ligon, Barbara Kruger and William Pope.L—Lewis’s writings acquires a decidedly materialist cast in the laborious process of the artist’s everyday battle with graphite and paper (a thick layer of lead dust covers every square inch of Lewis’ studio floor).

Michelle Grabner, Untitled, 2011-2013, paper and color-aid, variable dimensions

MICHELLE GRABNER

Born in 1962 in Oshkosh, WI

Michelle Grabner is an artist, curator, writer and professor in painting and drawing at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Grabner began making paper weavings in the 1990s when one day her son brought a similar specimen of his own making home from school. The hand-made, craft-based and minimal series directly engage the Bauhaus theories of weaving as well as the educational theories of Friedrich Fröbel, the German educational theorist who pioneered the concept of the Kindergarten.

Grabner’s decision to embrace pedagogical practices and methods traditionally associated with women’s work (a recent survey show was programmatically titled “I Work From Home” critically engages contemporary notions of art’s various others (craft, manufacture, skill and questions the romantic prenotion of the artist’s life.

Theaster Gates, In the event of race riot XXI, 2011, hose, wood, glass, 93 x 76 x 13 cm

THEASTER GATES

Born in 1973 in Chicago, IL

Theaster Gates was trained in both urban studies and ceramics. This Chicago-based artist has developed an expanded critical practice that includes urban development, object making, and performance. His work is heavily invested in the ongoing civil rights struggle in the United States. Gates’ unique brand of interdisciplinary social critique, articulated primarily in projects rooted in Chicago’s historically black South Side, examines the historical, economic, and political realities of African-American life, often pushing the boundaries of what might traditionally be considered art.

Zachary Cahill, Works is tiring/heaven can wait, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 6,14 x 4,3 m each

ZACHARY CAHILL

b. Johnson City, NY, 1973

Zachary Cahill is an interdisciplinary artist who experiments with installations and paintings. Since 2011 he has organized several projects under the banner of the USSA 2012—the title is an amalgamation of USA and USSR—an imaginary state or community that Cahill uses as a vehicle to investigate the relationship of institutions to the social and emotional life of individuals and society as a whole.

The USSA project as a whole has long been engaged with notions of propaganda, and with this work the artist intentionally mimics the missionary zeal and pedagogical intent of art created for (and by) the Catholic Church. Borrowing heavily from the language of Christian iconography.

Marissa Lee Benedict & David Rueter, Dark fiber, 2015, single channel video installation, 10:00min (looping)

MARISSA LEE BENEDICT & DAVID RUETER

Born in 1985 in Palm Springs, CA & Born in 1978 in Ann Arbor, MI

Marissa Lee Benedict is a sculptor, researcher, writer, explorer, teacher and avid amateur of many fields and disciplines.

David Allan Rueter is a visual artist, programmer, and educator. His creative practice makes use of a range of new technologies including custom software, custom electronics, computer-assisted manufacturing and a variety of traditional media, including sculpture, photography, film, and performance.

Marissa Lee Benedict and David Rueter employ an aesthetic reminiscent of avant-garde film and socially conscious video’s of the 1970s, the artists filmed themselves dressed as laborers, laying fiber optic cable across the United States, all the way from a beach in faraway San Diego to their hometown of Chicago. Benedict and Rueter’s stoic travelogue reveals the physical infrastructure of the digital networks that undergird the virtual realities of contemporary life.

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