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Museum of Contemporary Art debuts three new exhibits

28 May

Originally printed in The DePaulia: May 28, 2013

With the turn of seasons comes a new rotation of exhibits for Chicago’s art scene, and the Museum of Contemporary Art is on board with three new exhibits that all opened May 18.

Theaster Gates’ “13th Ballad”

Theaster Gates’ “13th Ballad” is hard to miss, but easy to overlook. The bulk of the exhibit is in the atrium of the museum, just beyond the front entrance. However, museum visitors might mistake the rows of church pews for museum equipment or event seating.

As is so often the case in modern art museums: determining what is and what is not art can be deceiving. A closer look reveals that the atrium has been deliberately arranged as a chapel by the artist to compare museums to churches as places of contemplation and reverence.

Gates’ materials have an interesting history. Most of the scrap wood and household items in the exhibit originate from the reconstruction of neighborhood homes on the South Side of Chicago. Some of the building materials from this Chicago project were repurposed for the restoration of a historic home in Kassel, Germany and an exhibit called “12 Ballads for Huguenot House.”

“12 Ballads,” and its reworking in “13 Ballads,” explore migration and marginalization in two very different communities: the African American community on the South Side of Chicago and French Huguenots who fled Catholic France to Protestant Germany in the 16th and 18th centuries. 

The MCA exhibit consists of arrangements of building materials from these projects, supplemented by video and audio installations located on the fourth floor. The exhibit will also feature three events titled “The Accumulative Affects of Migration 1-3” June 30, Aug. 11 and Sept. 22.

“13th Ballad” runs through Oct. 6.

“Think First, Shoot Later”

Moving through the atrium into the museum, the first exhibit on the left is another newcomer titled “Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection”. This exhibit is a curated collection of photographs from the1960s forward that explores a period in the history of artistic photography in which artists moved away from the spontaneity and dedication to the truth of previous decades in favor of a more critical approach.

Artists featured in this exhibition deal with the mass media and the idea of infinite industrial reproduction. They question the assumption that photography represents objective truth. Through photography, the works range widely in subject and form from staged portraits, extreme close-ups and fabricated optical illusions. Each work intends the viewer to question the veracity of its content.

“Think First, Shoot Later” runs through Nov. 10.

“MCA DNA: Chicago Abstraction, 1986-1995”

Move to the fourth floor to explore the third new exhibit titled “MCA DNA: Chicago Abstraction, 1986-1995.” While “13 Ballads” represents the vision of a single artist, and “Think First, Shoot Later” is united around a common genre and theme, “Chicago Abstraction” is united not by content, but by style, place, time and a close-knit social circle.

These various links are not immediately apparent in the exhibit. In fact, a quick glance will not reveal why the works are grouped together. The museum’s choice to display these works together is based on the social bonds that have developed among this group of Chicago-based artists, most of whom graduated from the School of the Art Institute.

Accompanying the exhibit is a table full of pamphlets and flyers that present a history of the galleries and exhibitions organized and participated in together by the group of artists. Working independently, but living proximally to each other, the MCA identifies this group of artists that includes Jeanne Dunning, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Dan Peterman and Tony Tasset as pioneers in Chicago’s abstract art scene.

“MCA DNA: Chicago Abstraction, 1986-1995” runs through Sept. 29.

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Museum of Contemporary Art debuts three new exhibits

28 May

Originally printed in The DePaulia: May 28, 2013

With the turn of seasons comes a new rotation of exhibits for Chicago’s art scene, and the Museum of Contemporary Art is on board with three new exhibits that all opened May 18.

Theaster Gates’ “13th Ballad”

Theaster Gates’ “13th Ballad” is hard to miss, but easy to overlook. The bulk of the exhibit is in the atrium of the museum, just beyond the front entrance. However, museum visitors might mistake the rows of church pews for museum equipment or event seating.

As is so often the case in modern art museums: determining what is and what is not art can be deceiving. A closer look reveals that the atrium has been deliberately arranged as a chapel by the artist to compare museums to churches as places of contemplation and reverence.

Gates’ materials have an interesting history. Most of the scrap wood and household items in the exhibit originate from the reconstruction of neighborhood homes on the South Side of Chicago. Some of the building materials from this Chicago project were repurposed for the restoration of a historic home in Kassel, Germany and an exhibit called “12 Ballads for Huguenot House.”

“12 Ballads,” and its reworking in “13 Ballads,” explore migration and marginalization in two very different communities: the African American community on the South Side of Chicago and French Huguenots who fled Catholic France to Protestant Germany in the 16th and 18th centuries. 

The MCA exhibit consists of arrangements of building materials from these projects, supplemented by video and audio installations located on the fourth floor. The exhibit will also feature three events titled “The Accumulative Affects of Migration 1-3” June 30, Aug. 11 and Sept. 22.

“13th Ballad” runs through Oct. 6.

“Think First, Shoot Later”

Moving through the atrium into the museum, the first exhibit on the left is another newcomer titled “Think First, Shoot Later: Photography from the MCA Collection”. This exhibit is a curated collection of photographs from the1960s forward that explores a period in the history of artistic photography in which artists moved away from the spontaneity and dedication to the truth of previous decades in favor of a more critical approach.

Artists featured in this exhibition deal with the mass media and the idea of infinite industrial reproduction. They question the assumption that photography represents objective truth. Through photography, the works range widely in subject and form from staged portraits, extreme close-ups and fabricated optical illusions. Each work intends the viewer to question the veracity of its content.

“Think First, Shoot Later” runs through Nov. 10.

“MCA DNA: Chicago Abstraction, 1986-1995”

Move to the fourth floor to explore the third new exhibit titled “MCA DNA: Chicago Abstraction, 1986-1995.” While “13 Ballads” represents the vision of a single artist, and “Think First, Shoot Later” is united around a common genre and theme, “Chicago Abstraction” is united not by content, but by style, place, time and a close-knit social circle.

These various links are not immediately apparent in the exhibit. In fact, a quick glance will not reveal why the works are grouped together. The museum’s choice to display these works together is based on the social bonds that have developed among this group of Chicago-based artists, most of whom graduated from the School of the Art Institute.

Accompanying the exhibit is a table full of pamphlets and flyers that present a history of the galleries and exhibitions organized and participated in together by the group of artists. Working independently, but living proximally to each other, the MCA identifies this group of artists that includes Jeanne Dunning, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Dan Peterman and Tony Tasset as pioneers in Chicago’s abstract art scene.

“MCA DNA: Chicago Abstraction, 1986-1995” runs through Sept. 29.

War Baby/Love Child comes to DPAM

30 Apr

Originally published in The DePaulia, April 29, 2013.

Image

Organizing curator Laura Kina leads a guided tour through the DPAM exhibit.

What are you? It’s a question people of mixed race have heard before, it’s a question without a very clear answer, but it’s also a question a new exhibit at the DePaul Art Museum is trying to answer.

War Baby/Love Child opened Thursday at the DePaul Art Museum and will run through June 30. The exhibit is co-curatedby Vincent DePaul Professor of Art, Media and Design Laura Kinaand San Francisco State University professor Wei Ming Dariotisand features the work of 19 artists, all of mixed race Asian-American descent.

The title for the exhibit, War Baby/Love Child, is a reference to a common stereotype regarding mixed race Asian Americans.

“I always wanted a t-shirt that said ‘War Baby’ on the front, and ‘Love Child’ on the back, because a lot of people would ask me, was your father in the military? Which is just a ridiculous question because we weren’t fighting a war in China in the late ’60s. But that image of the war baby is so strong, that that’s what people think of,” said Dariotis, who identifies as Greek, Swedish, English, Scottish, German, Dutch, Chinese-American.

The choice of title was controversial, with one gallery declining to show the exhibit because of the title.

“Art takes things that can be painful and transforms them into beautiful things,” said Dariotis. “We wanted to create something that people would be able to have not just an intellectual relationship with, but a passionate relationship.”

The exhibit features works from a variety of artistic styles and philosophies. One gallery features three works on similar subjects from very different perspectives.

Jenifer Wofford’s piece ‘MacArthur’s Nurses’ portrays a group of Filipino women walking through water. The piece references a staged photo of General Douglas MacArthur. Kip Fulbeck’s piece is a very straightforward photo portrait of a man, with the words “I am 100% Asian and 100% Black” written underneath in a rejection of the either/or mentality. Finally, a piece by Mequitta Ahuja features a woman’s head with a colorful explosion of culturally significant images emerging from it.

“So you see the three different approaches, one based on history and broader context , the self with a very straightforward portrait, and one that’s about the internal life,” said organizing curator Laura Kina.

For many of the artists, this exhibition is a unique experience.

“This is the first explicitly mixed race show I’ve been in, and it’s exciting,” said artist Chris Naka. “Being involved in this show makes me think about my own practice and how my identity and my work is affected by being mixed race”

For Native American and Korean-American artist Debra Yepa-Pappan, this exhibit is an opportunity to show her work in a new context.

“This is the first time I’ve displayed my work where the target audience wasn’t other Native Americans,” saidYepa-Pappan. “I’m really glad to see that I’m getting a lot of support from the Native American community. For those Native Americans that are mixed race, and a lot of them are, it’s important to realize that you don’t have to choose one side or the other. You don’t have to deny your non-native part.”

Kina is teaching an Honors Junior Multiculturalism Seminar at DePaul that explores the issues raised in this exhibit, guided by the accompanying book, which she and Dariotis co-wrote.

 “We’re always interested in a good hook in order to pose a question or make an argument through our exhibits,” said DePaul Art Museum Director Louise Lincoln. “And particularly with this show it’s good because it’s an extension of Laura’s teaching function.”

The museum will be hosting a variety of events to accompany the exhibit, including a screening of the film, “The Woman, The Orphan, and the Tiger” by Danish artist Jane Jin Kaisen Monday, April 29 from 6-8 p.m.

Hope for progress remains after devastating earthquake in China

29 Apr

Originally printed in The DePaulia, April 29, 2013

Image

Photo courtesy of AP

Lightning is not supposed to strike twice in the same place, but the same doesn’t go for earthquakes. A 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit near the city of Ya’an in Sichuan province in central southwest China April 20, the same province where a 7.9 magnitude quake hit in 2008.

DePaul sophomore Yue ‘Ivy’ Li is from the city of Chengdu in theSichaun province. She was in middle school when the earthquake hit in 2008.

“We were ready to start class, and I was the person in charge of leading the songs, and while we were singing, that’s when it started shaking,” said Li.

Li’s mother came to pick her up from school, and instead of returning to their apartment in the city, they stayed in the suburbs, living in a makeshift tent for about a month.

“I hated living in the tent, but we were scared it was going to shake again,” said Li.

Their fears were not unfounded. A tectonic fault line runs through Sichaun province, making seismic activity a not an uncommon occurrence.

Li was in Chicago when the earthquake hit April 20. With phone lines down, she got in touch with her family using an instant messaging service.

“I wish I could have been with my family at that moment,” said Li. “Families take care of each other during hard times.”

Li’s family is unharmed, but wary of the dangers of future earthquakes.

“They’re staying in our apartment this time,” said Li. “But they’re worried anytime it shakes, that the house will fall down.”

The biggest difference between 2008 and 2013 is in the numbers. Most recent estimates place the death toll at about 200 for the April 20 earthquake, while the May 2008 event caused more than 70,000 deaths.

For Chinese students and faculty members studying and working at DePaul, another big difference between the two events was the increased role of social media in dispersing information about the quake in and outside of China.

China’s number one microblog sit, Weibo.com, has over 500 million users, roughly the equivalent of Twitter.Weibo has become an important source of information for many Chinese citizens as well as the Chinesediaspora.

“You can get first hand information from Weibo, from people who were affected by this disaster,” said Li Jin, Head of DePaul’s Chinese studies department. “Right now social media is really shaping the entire dynamic in China for people who are using the Internet.”

Weibo users face some of the same frustrations with social media in a time of crisis as users of sites like Twitter and Facebook faced in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.

“It’s really fast, so things spread immediately,” said Zhu ‘Summer’ Zhuquing, a first-year DePaul graduate student from Jiangsu province. “So there are many messages that are wrong.”

On the other hand, the Chinese media landscape is less diverse than that of the United States. State-run media generally dominates information distribution systems. However, the emergence of citizen journalism via social media is challenging China’s centralized media system.

“The Chinese government is really adept at censoring things,” said Jin. “People trust Weibo more than the government’s official media.”

Another big difference since 2008 is in how people have responded to the earthquake.

“We have experience now, so people can organize quickly,” said Zhuquing. “People know how to protect themselves, and how to react.”

“I think after the first earthquake they are more prepared,” said Jin. “They know now how serious these earthquakes can be,” Jin said.

Chinese students at DePaul raised $260 this week at an event for the DaringQ Foundation, a humanitarian organization that is fundraising for the victims of the earthquake. They are in the process of planning other events to raise money to support long-term rebuilding in Sichaun province.

“In the past, everyone was talking about moral decay in Chinese society, because of economic development and such a fast speed of social life, when a disaster happens,” said Jin. “It’s good to see that there’s still love, there’s still care between people. I want to say I feel warmed about this kind of compassion among Chinese people.”

And We’re Back.

6 Oct

Hello tiny readership of my rinky-dink little personal blog. It’s been awhile.

Where have I been? Well, for one thing: Switzerland. (http://mavieensuisse2011-2012.tumblr.com). I studied en Suisse this past year and cheated on Love Of Green with my sultry little Tumblr travel blog.

But, we’ve reconciled, don’t worry kids, mom and blog are not getting a divorce, we were just temporarily separated.

What am I doing now?

Well, it’s year 4 at DePaul and I am diving right on in. This quarter I’m taking two International Studies classes, an Honors class on race and an Intro to Journalism class.

Which leads me to my big shift, which has been the pivot to center stage of my journalistic ambitions. Cue ode-singing to NPR and Twitter stalking of The Atlantic’s staff writers. Foreign correspondent, staff writer, assistant editor are all very attractive sounding job titles.

This doesn’t mean I’ve decided against NGO/non-profit/fair trade/teaching English abroad/opening a book store slash coffee shop where people read thick books and fall in love, ambitions. It just means, there’s another item to include in ‘all of the above’

You can follow my progress in byline-collecting and other journalistic pursuits here: http://margaretdziubek.wordpress.com/ (updates coming soon)

I’ve been writing for the DePaulia (DePaul’s student paper), have some ideas in the pipeline for stories with some other blog sites, and as of about an hour ago applied for a freelance position at How Stuff Works. If anyone is looking for a writing or interested in a blogging collab of any sort, shoot me an email at mzoobek@gmail.com

Anyway, I decided to return to this blog at long last, because perusing its archives reminded me how much I liked sharing my thoughts and interests with my dear friend the internet (and hopefully also with some real people on the other side of the most supreme internetwork).

So, movie recommendations, book lists and my general thoughts du jour are on their way. If that sounds like something you’d like to add to your to-read list, I’d be more than delighted.

 

L’illusioniste

24 Feb

I saw this a while ago at the Music Box Theatre with a friend. It’s made by the same people who made The Triplets of Belleville, which I have yet to see, but which is on my Netflix queue. The most notable part of this film is the animation style, which is just beautiful. Similar to my earlier post about The Secret of Kells, the drawn animation is refreshing in the wake of so many computer-animated movies. The colors are just great. So great. I want to put on some (spoiler alert?) red Mary Janes and walk right into the world of this movie.

The characters are interesting, an old Frenchman, the illusionist, and a young Scottish girl from a coastal village who stows away with him, believing that he can provide everything she needs through his ‘magic’, when in reality he works extra jobs and makes extra sacrifices to provide for her. The movie says some interesting things about the process of growing up and the debt we owe to those who care for us.

Tumblr Resistance

7 Feb

This is totally a Tumblr thing,  but I’m resisting. Regardless, I thought you should know that I am in love with the following man,

 

 

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