Jan 13th 2017

History is Boring

@ The Mission

1431 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60642

Opening Friday, January 13th, from 6PM - 8PM

On view through Saturday, February 25th

THE MISSION is excited to exhibit History is Boring, a group show curated by Peter Skvara featuring work by Adam Gondek, Nate Juncer, Alex Lukas, Leah Mackin, Emma Robbins and Deb Sokolow. An opening reception will be held on Friday, January 13 from 6pm to 8pm. The show will continue through Saturday, February 25, 2017.

History is Boring is a facetious remark about why we dissect the past. If the social currency of coolness depends on the ability to predict what is to come into fashion, then what is the value of knowing what has already occurred? Is it because history is cyclical? Or because those who cannot remember the past are doomed to…you know the rest. It is meaningful to keep in mind that “history” is the study of events, not the events themselves. In other words, history is an interpretation of reality. Events are immutable but the interpretation of those events will be forever fluid. Each of the artists in History is Boring explores how we document, erase, and subvert our collective interpretation of history.

ADAM GONDEK transforms recognizable societal totems such as issues of LIFE Magazine and wipes them out with solvent, frequently leaving only the title in his paintings. By obscuring the historical context, Gondek questions the value of the magazine as a collectable as well as the historical moment itself.

NATE JUNCER traces the origins of historically significant material such as Carrara marble, europium, and canvas to reinterpret classical art-making models. Juncer asks that the work never be conserved, treated, or restored so that each piece reveals the passage of time.

ALEX LUKAS uses tourist keepsakes to explore the link between our memory and historical landmarks, seeking to understand the ways we try to transform an experience or place into something physical. The point of souvenirs is not have intrinsic value but rather, to act as a tangible symbol of a meaningful experience.

LEAH MACKIN thinks beyond historical content and more about the ways, as a society, we archive our collective history. Mackin focuses more on the cataloguing methods and communications tools and how those affect the ways we interpret history and information.

EMMA ROBBINS uses Blue Bird Flour bags, a humble, everyday material used by modern Navajos, to explore the ways Native Americans are represented. Her use of this material also explores the way value is assigned to certain objects. This material in particular is meaningful but not valuable and recalls the long tradition of quilting as a visual method of memorializing one’s cultural heritage.

DEB SOKOLOW invents elaborate fictitious narratives that appear so precise and well-researched, the authenticity is ambiguous. Her work seems especially suspicious as we grapple with the aftermath of understanding how misinformation and fake news affected the presidential election.

By using archival scraps and relics of society to subtly transform our historical interpretation, these artists explore the concept of history as multifaceted. It’s a compelling notion that every person has the opportunity to contribute to a collective memory but we’re all aware that the stories that live on are written by a small number of people in power. The act of erasing, destroying, or even mocking those narratives is a form of activism and agency.

Text by Whitney Stoepel, Director of Public Relations at Eli and Edythe Broad Museum at Michigan State University


THE SUB-MISSION is pleased to present the means by which we make an opening, a site-specific installation by Alejandro Acierto. An opening reception will be held on Friday, January 13 from 6pm to 8pm. The exhibition will continue through Saturday, February 25, 2017.
The means by which we make an opening re-contextualizes the history of the Philippines during the era of US colonization at the turn of the 20th century. After the US overtook the Philippines as a result of the Spanish-American War, Americans inhabited the flourishing tobacco industry, a former Spanish monopoly that became as much a part of the fabric of colonial life as was Catholicism. With the tobacco industry filling the airways of Filipinos and Spaniards alike, cigars became a primary technology through which Spanish (and later American) colonialism could be embodied. Within this context, this exhibition features a series of objects, ephemera, images, and gestures that offer alternative, speculative histories that undermine the success of the tobacco industry.

In the exhibition, Acierto points to various ways that would have ruptured and potentially collapsed the industry had the Filipinos engaged in the widespread use of tobacco: destroying the plant through the introduction of invasive insects and operating on Filipinos through a surge of tracheotomies, a surgical strategy to open the airways. The installation situates objects within the framework of a museum to question the ways in which the historical narrative is constructed. The museological approach of the installation thus offers a series of material investigations that assert themselves as part of the archives, whether or not they have been part of the historical collections or not.

ALEJANDRO ACIERTO received a Master of Fine Arts in New Media Arts from University of Illinois at Chicago, a Master of Music in Contemporary Performance from Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor of Music in Composition and Clarinet Studies from DePaul University. Acierto’s work has been included in solo exhibitions at Corner (Chicago, IL), Insititut für Alles Mögliche (Berlin, Germany), United Gallery@Marwen (Chicago, IL); and featured in numerous group shows including Woman Made Gallery (Chicago, IL), Filter Space (Chicago, IL), Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago, IL), Chicago Artists Coalition (Chicago, IL), SOMArts Cultural Center (San Francisco, CA. Acierto has performed at Experimental Sound Studio (Chicago, IL), Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago, IL), Links Hall (Chicago, IL), Omaha Under the Radar (Omaha, NE), 6018North (Chicago, IL and Counterpath (Denver, CO). Acierto lives and works in Chicago, IL.

Alejandro Acierto in Conversation with Anthony Stepter
Thursday, February 9, 6pm

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