The exhibition Placemakers brings together nine artists engaged in interventionist and transformative acts that make places. Working in multiple media video, photography, installation, sculpture and digital forms each artist occupies and re-imagines a specific site. The exhibition includes seven commissions of new work and spans 12,000 square feet of the Bemis Center
s first floor and extends beyond the gallerys interior.
Isabelle Hayeur's (AIR 2011) site-specific video installations emphasize the porosity of our physical perception with virtual space. Responding to a quotidian space, two blocks from the Bemis Center, Hayeurs video and sound installation is an invitation to experience a mise en abyme, an exploration of infinity.
Tim Hyde's video and photographic works amplify singular experiences of place fused to specific psychological, historical, and technological contexts. Hydes The Keeper (2006) records a silent and delicate negotiation between the artist and an anonymous elderly woman in the courtyard of a former KGB building in Kiev, Ukraine.
Anne Lindberg's current works utilize fine Egyptian cotton threads to create luminous spatial passages and forms. Optically they are immaterial; materially they are fundamental. Lindberg is presenting a forty-foot installation and a two-dimensional work both color-saturated works expand her involvement in new modalities for drawing. In 2011, Lindberg received a prestigious Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant.
Cybele Lyle (AIR 2010) works in both video installation and photography, and layers imagery of domestic architecture with the natural environment. Within a restrained palette, Lyle creates a subtle, yet encompassing spatial disorientation that heightens the slowness, impermanence and sexuality of space.
Chicago-based artist Inigo Manglano-Ovalle's Always After (The Glass House) is the fifth, final installment in a set of works that Manglano-Ovalle filmed in buildings by Mies van der Rohe. In this HD video, Manglano-Ovalle documents an event that refers to the end of the utopia of transparency. The work observes a ceremonial window smashing by Mies own grandson and aftermath at Mies Crown Hall at the IIT campus in Chicago.
Jason Manley's (AIR 2005) drawings and installations compact the language and forms of advertising into off-kilter beacons. Manleys monumental icons are open-ended and speculative propositions that trump the gamesmanship and diversions of conventional public messaging. For Placemakers, Manley imagines the Bemis Center as a locus of collective possibility and personal hope.
Zach Rockhill's work engages physical impossibilities of architecture and material. Through low-tech illusions, Rockhills works accelerate gravity, make architecture liquid and find permeability within seemingly solid forms. Rockhill has created a 40-foot nylon curtain whose translucent moirés improbably pass through a three-by-three-foot concrete cube.
Quynh Vantu's (AIR 2011) installations torque the experience of transitional spaces hallways, atriums, thresholds into condensed social exchanges, compressed physical negotiations or buoyant places for interaction. Vantus works occupy two Bemis Center corridors to distinct effect, and reward spirited participation.
Letha Wilson (AIR 2011) builds photographic and architectural tableaux that conjoin bucolic visions of nature with misbehaving construction materials. Her site-specific works for Placemakers conflate pastoral images with alien and unexpected architectural moments. Beyond the specific jolt of this work, Wilson sends up the often ill-fitting interface of the built and natural worlds.
Placemakers is curated by Hesse McGraw, Bemis Center chief curator.