Exhibition Inquisition

The stuff you look at, but don't see.

Four Facts: Morbid Curiosity

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Chicago Cultural Center

Curious? You should go see this show.  Especially if, like me, you are looking for ways to procrastinate finishing your thesis.  If for no other reason, go see it for the exhibition design of the Kunstkammer of Death (see below image)—who doesn’t like maximalist aesthetic?

More is more: Jodie Carey’s “In the Eyes of Others.”

The show’s website claims Morbid Curiosity is one of the Culture Center’s largest—with over five hundred works and artifacts.  Where’d all this gloom and doom (seriously its not actually that dark) come from? — From Chicago collector Richard Harris’s personal closet of skeletons.  Harris, is not one of those Harrises, and seems like a pretty kooky dude (I mean, obviously).  In the immortal words of Carrie Brandshaw “I couldn’t help but wonder” how does Harris display all this stuff in his house? Like how does he fit the huge bone chandelier in his breakfast nook? (With a Liberace-sized commitment to tackiness that’s how people.)  Anyways, here are your four facts.

1) One work that caught my eye (below, left) was John Isaacs’s “Are You Still Mad at Me?” (2001), which was labeled as “shock art” but resists the label “meat art.”   It’s hard not compare Isaacs’s sad decomposing wax figure to those awful Body exhibitions.   Both are pretty sick, but at least Isaac’s work doesn’t use executed Chinese prisoners.

Don’t pay a fortune to see Bodies, see your conflict-free "meat art" at the Cultural Center free.

2) There is a lot of crocheted, embroiders, and sequined work in the exhibition that will appeal to the DIY crowd.  One of my favorites was a yarn-bombed skeleton by Olek called “Body and Movement,” (2004).  Lots of crazy craftsy craft stuff.

3) Haters of Damien Hirst (could anyone be any less DIY?) will gleefully enjoy Wilson Hand Kidde’s “Diamond Jim,” (2004), which outdates Hirst’s “For the Love of God” by a few years.  Let’s not rehash all that stuff—instead let’s get excited because I now know how to incorporate LOTS of rhinestone into this year’s Halloween costume…

Haters gonna hate. AND my Halloween costume this year is going to be AHmazing!

4) Lest you think all of the objects in the exhibition are contemporary, there is work with provenances in the BCE, some creepy Renaissance paintings, and my favorite piece in the show: a 18th c. ivory carving of Death, Knight and the Devil on handle of ivory, inspired by Durer’s famous print. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: art that references art is so hot right now, er always has been, and always will be?)

The show runs until July 8, but I don’t know why the DCA didn’t consider running the show to take advantage of Halloween?  Just image all of the potential programming.  Missed opportunity.

– H.I.

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