Thomas Skomski | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Thomas Skomski

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I was startled by the more recent of Thomas Skomski's two installations at the Chicago Cultural Center--it was weirder, darker, and more disjunctive than anything of his I'd seen before. I then learned that he'd had a devastating stroke two years ago, but also that he doesn't want viewers to connect his work, which now has to be executed by assistants, too closely with his stroke. Buzzard Luck refers most explicitly to drowning, in a deeply unpleasant description of the process on the installation's front wall. Nearby are a stack of mirror shards held by a clamp and chains that spill down steps; around the corner a chair is suspended from the wall and a doorway leads to a cavelike room with walls that look like burned charcoal and a squishy rubber floor that feels unstable. The room also includes a child's life preserver, a headless mannequin, and a gloomy Leonard Cohen song playing in the background. All of this ensnares the viewer in an insoluble mystery, creating a sense of physical and mental unease. The work suggests the difficulties caused by a stroke, but it's also about the disconnectedness all of us feel every day as we negotiate our troubled world. Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington, through September 14. Hours are 10 to 6 Friday, 10 to 5 Saturday, 11 to 5 Sunday, 10 to 7 Monday through Wednesday, and 10 to 9 Thursday; 312-346-3278.

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