Art Seen: Chicago


By Zhicheng Jacob Zhang Artist Eleanor Antin, whose solo exhibition is currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago, was once described as a “postconceptualist” by art historian Cherise Smith; Smith exemplified with one of Antin’s most controversial projects, Being Antinova (1983).1 For three weeks in 1980, Antin purports to have lived as the[…]


By Jameson Paige The problem of representation is perhaps one of art’s most confounding dilemmas—how to convey a body, an experience, a moment? Defining the limits and openings in which representation either successfully depicts or regrettably curtails experience is an ongoing project of negotiation. Representation’s logic inevitably leads to fragmented forms of knowing, which nevertheless[…]

Slow Cinema

TAKING OUR TIME // FOR AN OVERTHROW OF HOROLOGY By Minh Nguyen Abbas Kiarostami’s film Seagull Eggs (2014) begins where it ends, with a close-up of water crashing into a sea embankment. Three eggs wobble on a rock as waves lash them in a loose rhythm. That’s all that happens. I viewed this bare piece at[…]

Letter from the Editor

OPERA AS FORM In the course of assembling this issue, one reference has been particularly present: opera. To paraphrase Lina Lapelytė, one of the contributors to the Lithuanian Pavilion, featured in an interview by Natalie Hegert in Notes on Venice, “Opera is as related  to the visual arts as any other kind of installation. It[…]

Utopian Blind Spots

ASSAF EVRON // MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CHICAGO By MK Meador We all know we live in the legacy of modernism, whether it be the label of the ‘post-modern’ age, or the normalized sight of Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes in and outside of Chicago. In tracking the aesthetic legacies of the modernist project and effects,[…]

In Advance of An Archive

THE JOSEPH J. MCPHEE JR. RESEARCH LIBRARY AND LISTENING ROOM // CORBETT VS. DEMPSEY By Patrick J. Reed I. This is a story about jazz and thinking about jazz, and thinking about the moment both were on my mind when a teenager passing me in a car hurled a homophobic slur in my direction. True,[…]

In Sickness and In Health

ANNE BOYER: THE UNDYING // READING THE WORK OF GREGG BORDOWITZ AND BARBARA HAMMER By Gabrielle Welsh In her recently published book, The Undying, Anne Boyer writes, “Only certain kinds of sick people make it into art.”1 The book—a poetic meditation, if one could define it by any means—stems from the poet’s own diagnosis of[…]


ANNE IMHOF // ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO By Jill Danto Berlin: in the recent past, it has been marked as a cultural capital within the contemporary art world. Though I have never been to the city, its image appears to be a utopianism that was dreamt in response to the darker sides of its history.[…]


By Celia Glastris Sourcing both material and subject from his axis-point in a giant globalizing narrative, Brooklyn-based artist André Filipek-Magaña challenges ways of seeing. His solo exhibition, titled Reclinados, was recently showcased at Prairie Gallery in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago this summer. The show featured sculptures that derived their visual language from West Mexico’s[…]


By Rashayla Marie Brown The idea of speaking to and for Black people outside an institution appears to be the primary motivation behind Virgil Abloh’s first solo exhibition in the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, entitled “Figures of Speech.” Besides the press in the New York Times about Abloh’s meteoric fashion career and a cursory[…]


By Hiba Ali Self-care, in its most original definition, is not only about taking care of oneself and one’s communities’ mental, physical, and psychological health; it is about holding all parties accountable.1 Self-care, appropriated into capitalist metric, now results in consuming nice things and conducting erasure of historic healing cultural practices of communities of color—notably those held[…]

In a (Black) Way // Three Chicago Artists Push the Limits of Blackness

By Susan Mackey In the catalog essay for the 2016 exhibition Blackness in Abstraction at Pace Gallery, curator Adrienne Edwards writes, “Blackness fundamentally has to do with the realm of possibility.”1 The three Chicago-based artists profiled here—Nneka Kai, Unyimeabasi Udoh, and Rohan Ayinde—are all using blackness in abstraction as a formal and conceptual tool in[…]


By Jill Danto There is a beginning somewhere, but it is unclear where to place it. It can start inside of the gallery—realizing each performer, standing at their perch or lying on a mattress elevated above the crowd. Or, it begins with Jacob Eilinghoff, dressed in all black, and Stine Omar, in an oversized Grateful[…]

THE CHICAGO IMAGISTS, THEN AND NOW // In Conversation with Sarah Canright

By Barbara Purcell Artist Sarah Canright’s 50-year career has been impressive from the start, beginning in the late 1960s, when she began showing with the Chicago Imagists, a group who aesthetically defied New York’s minimalism and pop art scene with more colorful, figural artwork. A circle of friends who initially met at the School of[…]


By Bert Geyer Assemblage is classified as an additive process within the methodology of sculpture, combined parts produce a sum. The assemblages in Steve Reber’s exhibition, Anemic Compass, at the Hyde Park Art Center are additive in construction yet subtractive in effect. Rather than creating frankenobjects, the exhibition assumes the object to which it is[…]

Proposals for an In/Exhaustible Image of Identity

PRISONER OF LOVE // MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CHICAGO By Jameson Paige It is challenging to describe an exhibition where the central artwork is so overwhelmingly exhilarating, present, and difficult. Yet, such is the predicament for viewers of Prisoner of Love at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago. Curated by Naomi Beckwith, the show[…]

The Panoptic Loop

ANNA MARTINE WHITEHEAD // IN CONVERSATION By Mary L. Coyne On a windy evening, I spoke with Chicago-based dance artist Anna Martine Whitehead, who recently completed a residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA). The following transcription traces our conversation, which considers the landscape of dance and performance venues both in Chicago and[…]

Under the Cover of Night

KLEINE WELT // PART II By Dieter Roelstraete From January 17 until April 6, 2019, the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society at the University of Chicago hosted Kleine Welt, an exhibition devoted to the idiosyncratic art of the book cover named after a 1918 etching by Paul Klee. Kleine Welt (which translates to Little[…]

Colonial Consumption

YINKA SHONIBARE CBE // RICHARD H. DRIEHAUS MUSEUM By Joel Kuennen It is the late 1800s. Robber barons roamed the land like the herds of bison that once had, hoovering up the capital generated by the violent, colonialist westward expansion across the Great Plains. Transcontinental railways, scarring mines, and cotton farms tilled by newly freed[…]

Forgotten Forms

EDRA SOTO AND YHELENA HALL // CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER By Susan Snodgrass “Memory’s architecture is neither palatial nor theatrical but soft,”1 writes Lisa Robertson. In her manifesto of “soft architecture,” Robertson rejects the “structural deepness” of architecture, embracing instead the surfaces and materials of the city with its textures of the everyday. The exhibition Forgotten[…]

Laurie Simmons

BIG CAMERA, LITTLE CAMERA // MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CHICAGO By Natalie Hegert We may already think we know her, Laurie Simmons—she is part of the Pictures Generation; she did the dollhouse photographs; and we might recognize her from her performances on film. Maybe from her full-length movie, My Art (2016), but most likely from[…]


VIEWS OF GLOBAL MIGRATION // THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY By Noah Hanna I am acutely cognizant of the repetition in which the discourse of artistic practice finds itself negotiating the infringed humanity of migrants and refugees. In September 2017, THE SEEN featured the work of Moroccan-French artist Bouchra Khalili, whose minimalist and celestial topographies[…]

The Weight of a Line

ART AND COMICS // YVAN ALAGBÉ, JESSICA CAMPBELL, AND EDIE FAKE By Coco Picard An age-old mode of artistic research involves bringing a sketchbook to a museum and sketching a painting or drawing in order to understand its operations. Such efforts can yield different insights at different times. The following graphic review follows a similarly[…]


By Gareth Kaye The first things you notice are the sound of water and the conspicuous absence of light. The reciprocal senses of sight and sound heighten the effect of their respective other. A pool of water like an uneven horseshoe made of Plexiglas lines the walls in front of you. On the right are[…]