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Selected articles by Susan Snodgrass.

Gary Cannone: Manet/Degas

Inspired by Conceptualism’s object-word plays and the comedy icons of his youth, Gary Cannone infuses his work with a wink and a rim shot. In the artist’s exhibition here, the show’s namesake, Manet/Degas, 2024—a yellow warning sign bearing the titular Impressionists’ names planted in this experimental gallery’s front yard—signals viewers to the art-historical tropes that fuel Cannone’s droll pastiches. “Albums by Conceptual Artists,” 2015–, an ongoing crowd-sourced series hosted on Tumblr, is a mashup of famous record covers and portraits of visual artists (or their work) that nudge the semantic meanings of the art they lampoon. Among the forty-one mock albums, presented as digital offset prints in the east gallery, are recasts of Kiss’s Lick It Up, 1983, featuring a photograph of Allan Kaprow’s 1964 happening Household,where women lick jam from a car, and the 1968 soundtrack for The Graduate (1967), with a Photoshopped image of Robert Gober’s sculpture of a lifeless limb opposite Mrs. Robinson’s stockinged leg. These “communal acts of parody,” as the artist describes them, give way to deeply personal works in the west gallery that similarly employ humor (and seriality) to explore the limits of the body and mind, the focus of Cannone’s practice since being diagnosed with a neurological illness that affects his cognitive functioning and motor skills. One series, “Bloopers,” 2021–24, documents the artist’s mental and physical challenges through dated lists stitched in thread that record his momentary inability to perform ordinary tasks. Other objects act as comedic props and markers of instability, fragility, or threat, including a chair fabricated from butcher paper and scotch tape, and a cast-iron pan attached to the ceiling (think falling anvil). Countering these obstacles to safety are doormats faced with pictures of well-known artists in their wheelchairs and a similarly seated Matisse as a foam-board standee, placing Cannone within the artistic canon he both reveres and spoofs.

Multiple Realities: Experimental Art in the Eastern Bloc, 1960s-1980s

AT THE ENTRANCE TO the Walker Art Center’s “Multiple Realities: Experimental Art in the Eastern Bloc, 1960s–1980s,” viewers are met by Hungarian artist László Fehér’s Underground Passage I., 1975, a black-and-white, hyperrealist painting of passengers ascending the subway stairs as a solitary figure descends. Painted with illusionistic faux creases and tears to suggest a worn photograph, the work alludes in both title and subject to the multiple worlds (public and private, real and imaginary, official and underground) that artists in East-Central Europe continuously navigated during communism. Also portrayed, at least on its surface, is the gray, dreary Eastern Europe of Western stereotypes, a foil for the exhibition itself, which alternatively presents a rich and diverse cultural history through more than 250 works by nearly one hundred artists.

Dala nasser: Adonis River

Adonis River, 2023, the most recent installation by Lebanese artist Dala Nasser, is both an elegy to a mythical past and a monument to the losses (human, ecological, and otherwise) that plague our precarious present. Navigated from multiple points of entry, Nasser’s site-specific environment offered a refuge for pause and intuitive looking while responding to the interior architecture of the Renaissance Society’s somewhat ecclesiastical space, with its high-vaulted ceiling and clerestory windows that fill the gallery with radiant streams of light. By combining classical vertical forms that reference Doric columns and towering wooden constructions layered with earthen-dyed fabrics, the artist explored the intersections between history and materiality as rich metaphors for current geopolitical conflicts, particularly those related to lineages of water and land.

Interview with Monika Fabijanska: Women at war

Women at War gathers the works of twelve Ukrainian artists who employ a variety of media to address the Russian war against Ukraine, from its beginning in 2014 to the full-scale invasion in February 2022, through the lens of gendered experience. The exhibition explores the struggle for Ukrainian independence and women’s equality against the backdrop of the war and its impact on both the national and individual psyche while giving voice to women as narrators of history and agents of change. Curated by Monika Fabijanska, Women at War premiered at Fridman Gallery, New York, in the summer of 2022, and continues its North American tour through 2025.(1) I recently spoke with Fabijanska, known for her critically acclaimed exhibitions focusing on women and women’s art, about the challenges of organizing an exhibition about war alongside the show’s many themes of loss and resiliency, national identity, and feminism.

Edra Soto, Destination/El Destino: A Decade of GRAFT

For Chicago-based, Puerto Rican–born artist Edra Soto, home is a psychic, geographic place as well as a locus for gathering and community. It is also a political space that defines who we are as civic and social beings. The complex relationships between citizenship and migration, displacement and belonging, inform the impressive suite of sculptural installations comprising “Destination/El Destino: A Decade of GRAFT,” an unconventional survey celebrating ten years of this ongoing project by Soto.

Luftwerk: Exact Dutch Yellow

“Color is the most relative medium in art,” according to Josef Albers. Its relativity, along with the subjective nature of visual perception, forms the basis of the immersive light installations that comprise “Exact Dutch Yellow,” the most recent exhibition of Chicago-based collaborative Luftwerk (Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero), who transformed the fourth-floor galleries of this cultural institution into an oasis of complex optical phenomena.

Chris Larson: The Residue of Labor

Shunning mere esthetic representations of industrial ruin, the strength of Chris Larson’s project is the artist’s deep engagement with the material conditions of the factory itself—from its textile remnants to its architecture to its deserted machinery—and with the residual traces of human labor that such objects bear.

Nick Cave: Forothermore

At once a celebration of beauty in all its opulence and material forms, Nick Cave’s Forothermore, the artist’s largest museum survey to date, is also a eulogy to Black lives lost to police violence and those harmed by societal bigotry and racism.

A Counter-Monument to Female Victims of Wartime Rape: An Interview with Edit András

A new memorial project in Budapest, Memory of Rape in Wartimes: Women as Victims of Sexual Violence, will commemorate female victims of wartime rape, while establishing a culture of dialogue around rape and violence in Hungarian society and the region. In the following interview, art historian and critic Edit András discusses the origins of the memorial, the process for vetting proposals, and how contemporary public memorials to collective trauma should be conceived.

ŠTO TE NEMA – A Living Monument: An Interview with Aida Šehović

ŠTO TE NEMA (Where have you been?) by Bosnian-born artist Aida Šehović is an annual nomadic monument to the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide that has traveled internationally to 15 different cities from 2006 to 2020. This participatory public monument, consisting of more than 8,372 fildžani (small porcelain coffee cups) that have been collected and donated by Bosnian families from all over the world, addresses issues of trauma, healing, and remembrance.

Bisa Butler: Portraits

The subjects who populate the 22 quilts that comprise Bisa Butler’s exhibition Portraits transcend their historical sources–vintage photographs of anonymous African Americans, whose visages Butler transforms through vibrant layers of fabric and thread.

Lenore Tawney: Mirror of the Universe

Revealed throughout Mirror of the Universe, a suite of four exhibitions recently on view at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center exploring the life, work, and influence of Lenore Tawney (1907–2007), is an artist whose creative and everyday lives were intimately intertwined.