In A Plain Brown Wrapper: Sept 3-18
at Gray Center Lab at the University of Chicago
Midway Studios, 929 E 60th St
Opening: Thursday September 3, 5-9p
Curated by Oli Rodriguez
Featuring work by: Margaret Bobo-Dancy, Elijah Burgher, Sky Cubacub, Rami George, GNAT, Kiam Marcelo Junio, Daniel Luedtke, Madsen Minax, Dan Paz, Amina Ross, Colin Self, Michael Sirianni, Trans Oral History Project, Ni’Ja Whitson
(image: Amina Ross)
The exhibition takes its name from the common practice of discretely shipping, wrapping, delivering and transporting pornographic merchandise In a Plain Brown Wrapper. Poetically, this negotiation of public and private sensitivities is made possible by an almost aggressively anti-aesthetic container, echoing a philosophical argument about porn itself as the inverse of art. Yet the mysteriousness of the package - the endless possibilities of what might be (writhing) within - invoke a questioning social dynamism akin to many contemporary art practices.
The artists in IAPBW unwrap alternative sexualities by re-presenting modes of desire. These offerings are both tantalizing and confrontational, engaging in and critiquing visual pleasure simultaneously. In this sense, the artists carve out a new fertile terrain in the literal and metaphorical space between pornography and art. Accordingly, this is an exhibition of marginalized bodies. At the heart of the matter is the struggle of othered bodies to exist with intention and truth amidst a backdrop of capitalism and cultural warfare. The value of some bodies over others is the essence of our contemporary political moment. This show asserts in no uncertain terms that blacks lives matter, trans lives matter, and that we - (most) sex workers and (most) working artists - are the 99%. With formal and political roots in photography, this discourse around class, representation and the art/porn divide was pioneered by the late (great) Barbara DeGenevieve, who passionately engaged these vital questions with her research and studio practice. This show is in tribute to her and her many provocations.
To visit the Gray Center Lab after the opening, call 773-834-1936 or email Mike Schuh, Program Coordinator.