Tuesday, March 24, 2009

next show opens April 3, 2009

Secret School 05: Food at Antena, Chicago
In Collaboration with Alexander Stewart

Also this month:
Project Wall Space: Anni Holm
Monthly Video Series: Amelia Winger-Bearskin

Secret School is pleased to collaborate with Alexander Stewart to examine the importance of food in fostering social networks and the possibilities of barter exchange in decentralizing market systems. A food for art supply swap will begin the event at 6PM and last until 8PM, followed by a 90 minute program of videos that explore cultural relationships with food, including those of Patty Chang, Cecilia Ramirez-Corzo, Joey Frank, Andy Cahill, Liz Magic Laser and Dafna Maimon, Sophia Peer, Karen Tam, Pizza Dog, and a few other food-themed surprises. Secret School and Stewart will issue a corresponding book of recipes, essays, and anecdotes about food.

Bring a homemade dish or art supplies for entry. Arrive early for the swap, stay for the screening.

Return for open format crafting and snacking sessions, a.k.a. Crafternoons.
Noon-5PM every Saturday from April 4 - May 2. Bring snacks, crafts, and friends.

Secret School explores the importance of the hidden and invisible in the social identity of a community through a series of time-based events and collaborations. Ranging from the political to the personal, epic to the quotidian, unknown to unknowable, how do secrets function in the transfer and preservation of power? At a time in which oversaturation of readily available information already exceeds our capacity for adequate synthesis, how can the poetics of secrets cut through the logic of facts? When does the form of a secret supersede its content, and under what circumstances must information remain a secret? Secret School spans an indefinite number of sessions and range of spaces and extends from the aesthetic practice of building systems of social exchange.

For more information, visit secretschool.wordpress.com or email s3Cr37.5ch00l@gmail.com

Opening Friday April 3, 2009 from 6pm-10pm
April 3 - May 2, 2009

1765 S. Laflin St.
Chicago IL 60608
antenapilsen (at) gmail.com
Saturdays noon-5pm or by appointment

Refreshments provided by Red Stripe:

Monday, March 2, 2009

review in the Chicago Weekly

The Surreal Life: Paul Nudd and Nick Black bring the weird to antena gallery
Written by: Melanie Treuhaft

One of Nick Black's Mutant Toys; courtesy of antena gallery

One of Nick Black's Mutant Toys; courtesy of antena gallery

It was cold enough outside to catch me off-guard with the momentary conviction that Santa had set up shop in Miguel Cortez’s antena gallery. Sounds of running motors and clicking machinery came from an array of colorful objects placed sporadically throughout the room, creating a mechanical harmony. Viewers engaged with their surroundings, pulling knobs and tinkering with little objects: experiencing the artwork required participation. But the wholesome aspect of this first impression was disrupted upon surveying the small, high-ceilinged space more closely. The contraptions lining the walls revealed themselves not as charming teddy bears and dolls, but instead as mildly perverted reconstructions of old children’s toys. Artist Nick Black had dismantled the playthings, rearranged parts, and reassembled them into an “Orgy of Mutant Toys.”

Rubber seems to be almost entirely absent from the scene…until one sees it seeping through the walls by way of Paul Nudd’s drawings. Slimy greens and dirty browns assume organic forms resembling hairy amoebas and other oozing blobs. Each drawing features a short message, either a humorous catchphrase or a random combination of words, absorbed into the flow of the composition.

Nudd also furnishes the gallery with a large, black, smoke-emitting sculpture which blends in with its environment by clouding its own image. One corner of the room is dominated by its four hollow heads, each taller than the people staring through its eyes to the back inside surface. Each is connected to a tubular post, all four of which merge into one long tube at the base. A smoke machine positioned at the opening of the communal tube generates white smoke which slowly creeps into the room through the facial orifices. After a few rounds of smoke machine magic, the small room takes on a hazy atmosphere through which the distorted sculptures shimmer like relics from mystical religious ceremonies.

Amid the drawings, the mutant toys, and the four-headed smoke beast, podiums are dispersed throughout the room, supporting more darkly fanciful works of sculpture. This almost cluttered organization creates a surprisingly comfortable space in which viewers can feel right at home. Despite what some would probably consider unsettling imagery, the room facilitates a friendly, open environment in which to embrace such a collection. The curator seems to have meticulously thought out and arranged the objects in the space. What could have easily turned into a random muddle is successfully distributed throughout the gallery. In addition, the warm lighting helps maintain an atmosphere at ease with the disturbing art objects.

At the opening, Black fit right into the scene. He hurried to join any interested viewers, excited to share the story of the piece before them. His enthusiasm illustrates the vibe of the gallery and the type of genuine enthusiasm about experimentation in the arts that antena promotes. In the spirit of Cortez’s space, everyone excitedly engages with the art before them and shares ideas about new projects and events.

Black and Nudd have successfully created an environment in which the fanciful and bizarre both find a comfortable retreat. But while the installation provides an interesting aesthetic challenge, the art maintains itself at a certain relational distance from the observer. There is limited potential for breaking the ice between the fluidity of human emotion and the explicit absurdity of the images. That said, if you find yourself having a weird day, this exhibit will be thoroughly engaging, even refreshing.

antena gallery, 1765 S. Laflin St. Through March 21. Saturday, noon-5pm or by appointment. (773)344-1940. antenapilsen.com