Poetry: Literal, Visual and Otherwise | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Poetry: Literal, Visual and Otherwise

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The visual koans and one-liners in this witty group show offer mean-spirited fun to those who walked out of Creative Writing 101 in disgust--or later wished they had. Questions of intentionality cross your mind when you enter curator Jason Pickleman's ode to poetry in the ever ironic confines of Monique Meloche: for this show especially, overdescription would be a mistake. Are you supposed to be moved by wall texts quoting anointed writers like Mark Strand and E.E. Cummings? Or are you supposed to sneer at those who might take them seriously? Pickleman's The Listeners--cleverly juxtaposed giant photocopies of New Yorker cartoons--skewers the de facto trade publication of the literary industry. Joseph Sterling's photograph of a Beatles fan weeping ecstatically hints at the ignorant enthusiasms of the unwashed herd, but it's positioned in such a way that the girl seems starstruck not by anything fab but by Sonny Venice's bifurcated chair, Chair, which embodies the blunt sophistries of 1960s conceptual art. Joe Cassan's sculpture The Death of Whimsy is similarly arch. Perhaps most poignant is Joe Litzenberger's Equivalents, a tall pedestal with a twisted metal projection on top. Spindled and beaten, it suggests that Pickleman removed and set out for display the pole wedged up the ass of contemporary poetry. a Through 12/22: Tue-Sat 11 AM-6 PM, Monique Meloche, 118 N. Peoria, 312-455-0299. --Noah Berlatsky and Bert Stabler

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): The Death of Whimsy.

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