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Fall 1998, Volume 1, Number 2


Kerry James Marshall (the Renaissance Society)--A guy, a black guy, makes really beautiful, painterly paintings on a topic of personal significance. Suddenly, the white art establishment picks him as a representative, a spokesman for "his people". He can see the box closing in. He panics. Tries to run in every direction at once. The problem is that even a certified genius painter is not necessarily a successful performance/video/collage artist. The fault lies not with the rabbit, but with the poachers who built the cage. MB

Babbling on Bubbles --After reading a certain Reader article, some may think that Wesley Kimler's exhibition outside his studio's hallway (which he titled "Bubble: Recontextualizing Post-Modern Deconflatory Mythological Archetypes") is his most important contribution to the Chicago art scene so far (and, finally, an incentive to go to check out his studio). Better, however, is his performative act of manipulating the media before his solo exhibition in town, a happening which could be titled "Babbler: Recontextualizing Post-Abstract Expressionist Inflamatory Deliriums of Grandeur from the Era of Archetipically Mythologizing Egomania". PH

Hirsch Farm Project at MCA--The only thing "disorienting" about this installation is that some viewers may have gone in expecting to see art, or maybe some distillation of five-years' worth of thinking from this lauded think tank. Instead-a couple of promotional posters and some effete, esoteric gestures that might make sense in some idiosyncratic mind-set where issues of the conceptual nature of gallery space were still relevant. It might have worked at RSG, but it is especially bad planning at the MCA, where most visitors can be confounded by floating basketballs.MB

Mitchell Kane and Wesley Kimler --actually have a lot in common. They both manage to live comfortable lives in the anachronistic art worlds in their own heads, while maintaining an attitude of superiority to the art world in which they are a peripheral presence. MB

Pipilotte Rist at MCA Great ambient background for one of those Easy-Listening cocktail bars-even with the bit of quiet screaming towards the end that is supposed to make it into art. MB

A Rant on the MCA--Big Brother Has Moved In

Judging from my last few trips there, the guards and the museum's security policy seem to be getting creepier and creepier. My worst experience yet occurred while viewing the Chuck Close show on a weekday.

Maybe the guards were inspired by all those expressionless, larger-than-life portraits hanging on the walls. In any case, I had the pleasure of constant supervision as I moved from gallery to gallery. First was the middle-aged male guard who approached me sideways to inform me that the small bottle of water (which I had bought at the museum's café) that was capped, more than two-thirds empty, and sitting in my briefcase, was not allowed in the gallery. Fine. I threw it out.

The same guard followed me as I walked into a smaller room. He had forgotten to check for a metal tag to make sure I hadn't snuck in through some back door. See, I had put it in my pocket rather than clipped it to my jacket. I showed it to him and he smiled nervously and stood by the wall. I noticed he followed me into the next room but couldn't imagine what other transgressions I was committing. While he stopped an elderly couple to check their tags I ducked across the hall in hopes of escape.

No luck. I was taking notes on Close's portrait of "Dorothea" when a young woman in the telltale white and black approached me. My mistake, it turns out, was using a pen. She said I could find pencils, appropriately blunt, at the front desk. When I asked her the reasoning behind this, she said the MCA was afraid of students who might write on the paintings, and pencil was easier to than pen. I pointed out that there were no students in the galleries at the moment. Could she find it in her heart to let me finish taking notes with my pen if I promised to squelch any desire to scribble on one of the paintings? Nope. I had to stop immediately or she could lose her job if her supervisor saw me. I confirmed this with the supervisor at the front desk, who cheerfully offered me a pencil from a box sitting next to her.--Lisa Stein