All posts filed under: review

Happiness, the Elusive American Dream and Lots of Cardboard

Artist-in-residence Kirsten Leenaars engages children in the search for home and happiness on Milwaukee’s Near West Side. By Megan Knowles Students display protest signs exploring the American ideal of happiness and proposals for a new Constitution. On a vibrant and sunny June afternoon, an enthusiastic bunch of middle school students chatted on an empty lot near 27th street. Holding onto white balloons and gathering around the remnants of a large structure made of decorated cardboard and brightly colored tape, they brought a DIY-scrapbook vibe to a street where underused spaces are giving way to development plans and relatively new arrivals such as Daddy’s Soul Food & Grille. Overcoming the feelings of awkwardness and skepticism young teens can bring to group projects, the students formed a line, balloons in hand, amidst conversations about TV shows and summer plans. Each balloon carried a piece of the cardboard construction waiting to be sent to the sky, many scribbled with personalized messages ranging from smiling cartoon faces to pointed political messages. What appeared to be an activity for a day …

Chicago art winter preview: 10 shows for a new year

Elmhurst Art Museum Biennial: Chicago Statements The distance between you and all the words spoken, all the things you read (2015), Kirsten Leenaars By Lori Waxman, December 23, 2015 What to say about a lineup that ranges from monsters to secondhand books, from prison to inflatables, from clothing to nudity? There’s a witticism in there, I’m sure of it, but it’s been a tiring year and I’m saving up my energy for these and other scintillating shows. “Elmhurst Art Museum Biennial: Chicago Statements”: Festivalism is officially here to stay. Coming on the heels of the city’s first Architecture Biennial, its second Terrain Biennial in Oak Park, its third biennial of emerging artists at the Hyde Park Art Center and its fourth EXPO international art fair, this latest local megashow insists there’s still much to say. Listen up as 19 Chicago artists fill the museum with talk about feminism and motherhood, new technologies, community building, race and power, gun violence and more. Makers like Kirsten Leenars, Faheem Majeed and Aram Han Sifuentes go far beyond talking points. …

Bad at Sport Review: A World of Pain

Guest post by Lise Haller Baggesen for Bad at Sports The Doris Salcedo show, recently on view at the MCA, was a hard one to watch. Not because it was a bad show; numerous reviews pointed out it is an extremely well curated, beautifully executed, and timely show of the monumental oeuvre of a major Latin American artist. Major female Latin American artist. The latter only added to the shows importance, in case you were wondering. But none of all this is what made the show hard to watch. Salcedo’s visual language is worldly, and spoken by an international elite of sculptors such as Rachel Whiteread, Jannis Kounellis, Boltanski, Anselm Kiefer and Joseph Beuys; a universally understood shorthand, whereby dark wood furniture and cast concrete reads like a history of human suffering. That language we speak, and read, and understand, as an important part of the so-called “post-colonial” discourse. (So called, because who are we kidding?) What made Salcedo’s show so confronting was the silence in between. A silence that is uncomfortable, not as in awkward, …

Review The Moments Between

RECOMMENDED In “The Moments Between,” Rafael E. Vera presents new work constructed with industrial materials such as concrete, cinder blocks, rebar, hooks and straps—rough stuffs that are intended for extensive use at the mercy of calloused hands. Taking substances that typically connote durable exteriors, Vera has erected pieces that read as scenes found in a domestic landscape. In a piece entitled “Heavy Conversation,” Vera has fabricated two chairs out of poplar. Their blond wood and lack of stylistic references transcend the several feet between them with an emotionless, blank stare. Sprawled out and stretching over both seats, a large concrete bar snoozes atop two soft pillows—a heavy head finds rest in an unconventional cradle. Next to the chairs rises a wall that is painted a light shade of “office green,” providing a domestic backdrop for an otherwise industrial colored palette. Each piece offers a plot of frozen, corporally scaled materials through which viewers may maneuver around and position themselves within. A hand truck stands transfixed in front of a mirror, surveying its cold, dark limbs …

Boulevard Dreamers at the MCA

– On January 21st, Lise Baggesen and I had the great pleasure of taking our Boulevard Dreamers Project to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and transform the museum’s atrium space to a stage and green room. – – The day’s and evening’s performances, included some new and amazing acts, such as MCA’s own Chaz Hearne on Banjo: – – Chicken Fat Klezmer Orchestra: – – And Jessica Cambell with an unforgettable rendition of Brick House: – – We also had the pleasure of welcoming back some of  our personal favorites from last time, such as spoken word social activists Rebirth: – – And off course our green lady of the green room, Anni Holm, who closed the evening with an MCA Anthem: – – Apart from the above mentioned, we would like to thank Carol Laque, Mairead Case and In the Spirit, for their amazing storytelling skills, as well as Brian Sandstrom and  The Extraordinary Popular Delusions, The Pillowhammer, Marvin Tate and Michael Soto & Madeleine Aguilar, for putting in some musical muscle …

Sounding out Useful Pictures

Sounding out Useful Pictures, 2013 , a conversation about love, care and making. Kirsten Leenaars in conversation with artist Adelheid Mers and with curator Tricia Van Eck, about a diagram, made in 2011, about how Kirsten works as an artist. (Chicago, March 2013). Listen here Diagram Adelheid Mers, depicting practice Kirsten Leenaars