Art, Language, & Power
Oct 26, 2019 – Jan 26, 2020

Jenny Holzer, For Chicago, 2007, LED installation with amber diodes / Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Commissioned through the generosity of the Edlis/Neeson Art Acquisition Fund, 2007.35. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Our lives are shaped by language: the signs we follow, the news we read, and the grammar of these forms all dictate how we experience the world. Direct Message: Art, Language, and Power focuses on the ways artists reveal patterns within communication, exploring how shared media platforms shape our lives. Proceeding from a belief in the power of language as the basis for our outlook and actions, the exhibition considers the ways artists rearrange and reconfigure communication structures as starting points for social critique and political inquiry.

 

Dara Birnbaum, PM Magzine, 1982

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (We construct the chorus of missing persons), 1983. / Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Restricted gift of Paul and Camille Oliver-Hoffmann, 1984.22.a-c. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Media and language based art, often considered to be separate strands of artistic practice, are brought together for this exhibition. This exhibition looks back to the ways artists used text in visual art beginning in the 1960s, providing a useful lens for understanding the ways language and media operate today. By inviting audiences to both read and look, artists and collectives such as Art & Language, Mel Bochner, and Charles Gaines emphasized the importance of grammar, structures, and systems as foundational for the representation of all forms. Their work informed subsequent generations of artists featured in this exhibition who conceal, annotate, and remix conventional modes of communication, challenging the standards that structure language and, by extension, power.

 

Jamal Cyrus, Cultr-Ops, 2008/2015 / Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gift of Marilyn and Larry Fields in honor of Naomi Beckwith, 2018.32

Eugenio Dittborn, Dust Clouds, Airmail Painting No. 99, 1992 / Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gift of Mary and Earle Ludgin by exchange, 2014.16.a-n
Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

The exhibition is divided into four thematic sections exploring shared approaches and processes among intergenerational artists. The first section, Remove, explores the erasure of text from sources such as newspapers and the ways this gesture reveals new meanings and subtexts embedded in the original forms. Review presents a sampling of artists transforming historic materials such as television broadcasts and written narratives in order to uncover how the past continues to inform the present in subtle and unacknowledged ways. Reframe focuses on the ways artists appropriate a myriad of communication forms including logos, slogans, and other forms of public information as a means of turning a critical lens on these structures. Recode, the final section, considers the ways artists rearrange and reconfigure language and its symbols in order to uncover hidden information and difficult truths. The exhibition demonstrates the ways that artists across generations directly address the relationship between our shared language and a range of systemic issues including censorship, surveillance, and state sanctioned violence, while envisioning alternative possibilities.

 

Stan Douglas, Evening, 1994 / Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Restricted gift of Frances and Thomas Dittmer; and Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund, 1996.40. Photo: Michal Raz-Russo, © MCA Chicago

The exhibition also includes a screening of three short works organized by Christy LeMaster, Assistant Curator of Performance and Public Practice, and a workshop space created for ongoing conversation and workshops hosted by the MCA’s community partners organized by Gibran Villalobos, Assistant Curator of Performance and Public Practice.

This exhibition is organized by former MCA Assistant Curator Grace Deveney, with MCA Curatorial Assistant Jack Schneider.

 

Direct Message: Art, Language, & Power
October 26, 2019 – January 26, 2020 / Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Visit the exhibition page >

International Women’s Day
March 8, 2020
Often our better halves, and with whom we could not be without, we renew our commitment to engage. Once...
+
Gerhard Richter: Painting After All
March 4 – July 5, 2020
This exhibit considers Richter's six decade long preoccupation with the dual means of representation and abstraction to explore the...
+
SHOW OFF: Austrian Fashion Design
February 14 – July 12, 2020
Time travel through fashion design from the 80s to today to view the wide spectrum of designers connected with...
+
Thirty Years of Women
February 7 – April 11, 2020
This exhibit draws from Jackson Fine Art’s 30 year history of showing some of the most distinguished female voices...
+
ARTPIL / Prescription .110
A Spectre is Haunting Europe
In fact take my body who will, take it I say, it is not me... And come a stove...
+
Asikainen, Chin, and Houghton
Jan 25 – Apr 26, 2020
BALTIC 39 is proud to present three solo exhibitions with artists Henna Asikainen, Kara Chin, and Ben Jeans Houghton....
+
Reading Time in Space
Modernism at mumok
This exhibit traces passages of time and artistic concepts, accounting the idea of an expanded concept of art, one...
+
Towards No Earthly Pole / Julian Charrière
January 31 – March 21, 2020
Filmed at night, the dazzling landscapes captured are dramatically lit by a spotlight carried on a drone; as light...
+
International Women’s Day
March 8, 2020
Often our better halves, and with whom we could not be without, we renew our commitment to engage. Once...
+
Gerhard Richter: Painting After All
March 4 – July 5, 2020
This exhibit considers Richter's six decade long preoccupation with the dual means of representation and abstraction to explore the...
+
SHOW OFF: Austrian Fashion Design
February 14 – July 12, 2020
Time travel through fashion design from the 80s to today to view the wide spectrum of designers connected with...
+
Thirty Years of Women
February 7 – April 11, 2020
This exhibit draws from Jackson Fine Art’s 30 year history of showing some of the most distinguished female voices...
+
ARTPIL / Prescription .110
A Spectre is Haunting Europe
In fact take my body who will, take it I say, it is not me... And come a stove...
+
Asikainen, Chin, and Houghton
Jan 25 – Apr 26, 2020
BALTIC 39 is proud to present three solo exhibitions with artists Henna Asikainen, Kara Chin, and Ben Jeans Houghton....
+
Reading Time in Space
Modernism at mumok
This exhibit traces passages of time and artistic concepts, accounting the idea of an expanded concept of art, one...
+
Towards No Earthly Pole / Julian Charrière
January 31 – March 21, 2020
Filmed at night, the dazzling landscapes captured are dramatically lit by a spotlight carried on a drone; as light...
+