Huong Ngo | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Too much of current "relational" art talks about play, then presents an orgy of alternative-art-star idolatry. But textile and technology artist Huong Ngo is returning warmth to participatory minispectacles. In her scrappy, subtle immersive experience--"Savage Parallelograms," opening Saturday at Duchess--the aim is to create geometric-camouflage tableaux as viewers are offered backdrops, props, conjoined costumes, and sculptural helmets and prompted to become what she calls "landscapes from the shoulders up." She provides a conceptual context for the show in the form of drawings, prints, animations, and stories about feral children and twin relationships. Ngo is also involved in the more structured "Innovations in Safety, 1983-2003," which opened at Heaven last week. She and collaborators Alexander Stewart and George Monteleone, who make up a fictitious company called Training & Development, present a chronological array of artifacts, fashion items, photos, and videos in this "career retrospective exhibition." With its retro-hip take on corporate kitsch, the show is far more disarming than, say, Mike Judge's film Office Space. Through 9/30: Sat 1-5 PM or by appointment, Heaven, 1550 N. Milwaukee, 2nd flr., 773-342-4597. Through 10/18: Opens Sat 9/16, 7-10 PM, then Wed 6-9 PM, Sat 9/23, noon-6 PM, and by appointment, Duchess, 1043 W. Grand, 4th flr., 312-933-5317 or 312-343-2982.

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