The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, now in its third year, is an intimidatingly large event that promises/threatens to overload your eyeballs as galleries descend on Navy Pier for three days of exhibitions, site-specific projects, panel discussions, and more. The disorientation can be its own experience, but for those who'd like some guidance, here are five high points to swim for amidst the aesthetic flood.
One and J. Gallery Of the 140 exhibiting galleries, dozens are from outside the U.S. And among those, Seoul's One and J. Gallery, which focuses on emerging South Korean artists, is especially worth checking out. There's a peculiar pop lean to work like Jung Lee's wintry postcard Tell Me the Truth, in which a neon sculpture spelling out the titular phrase sits in the snow, glowing sadly in front of a line of pine trees. Seung Yui Oh's See Saw, a room-size installation in which spatial oddities are explored via shiny egg-shaped objects and balloons, suggests an eccentric play area for children.
In/Situ Expo has arranged for a number of large-scale installations. Two works by Iraqi-American conceptual artist and Northwestern professor Michael Rakowitz, both large-scale replicas of artwork stolen from Iraq, re-created from Arabic food packaging and newspapers, will be on view inside Navy Pier. Among the works in the inaugural In/Situ Outside project, in which art is placed in public spots around the city, the 12 bronze heads that make up Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads, by famed Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, make a trip out to the Adler Planetarium lawn a necessity.
Expo Editions + Books This new showcase features artist books, editions, prints, zines, pocketbooks, and other printed matter to flip through, gawk at, and maybe pay to walk away with. Taschen, known for gobsmacking coffee-table books, will exhibit its winter 2014 offerings. Art book fair Medium Cool's booth will display work by Leisure Press, a publisher "concerned with what is consumed and produced during free time." The print arm of Western Exhibitions, WesternXeditions, will also be showing limited-edition books by comics creators/artists like Lilli Carré, Paul Nudd and Onsmith, and Deb Sokolow.
Dialogues: "What Do Your Politics Get From Being in My Art?" (Sat 9/20, 11:15 AM) Part of the ambitious lineup of Expo's Dialogues series, this discussion moderated by Bad at Sports podcast and blog founder Duncan MacKenzie focuses on the relationships between the art world and the sphere of social and political causes—a topic of particular interest in Chicago, which has been a center for blending art and activism at venues like the late, lamented Mess Hall. MacKenzie talks to Rakowitz, Threewalls associate director Abigail Satinsky, and artist and DePaul associate professor Jim Duignan.
Expo Video Four viewing stations designed by Studio Gang Architects feature nine artists. The works include Takeshi Murata's Monster Movie, starring a yeti boogying and dissolving into trippy pixels, and Chicago artist Jennifer K. Reeder's A Million Miles Away, which mines teen angst for pathos. One sequence involves a girl solemnly singing Madonna's "Like a Prayer" to an E.T. figure.