Chicago Artists Coalition is pleased to present Form Without Plan, a HATCH Projects exhibition featuring Colleen Keihm, Jacqueline Surdell, Kioto Aoki, Oscar Gonzalez, Whit Forrester, and Yasmin Spiro. Through photography, performance, sculpture, installation, and fiber art, these artists examine relationships between the body and space, oscillating from physical to psychological registers.
As Elizabeth Grosz details in her book Architecture from the Outside, notions of the body often imply and produce notions of spatiality. To the extent that it is socially produced by human activity, space takes on a certain duality with the body, for example by representing projected images of corporeality or being measured spatiotemporally by parameters of the human form. Utilizing everyday gestures and unstylized performativity, Kioto Aoki creates an improvisational series of body movements to activate the space in front of her camera. The contorted structures and shapes in Jacqueline Surdell’s macramé hybrids of weaving, painting, and knotted rope emanate a rigorous physicality, while also referencing organic forms and a lineage of landscape painting. Conceptualizing the car as a camera within the filmic trance of driving, Whit Forrester’s photo sequences ponder our place within the natural realm and the webs of connection between all living things human and non-human – with highways themselves being both networking arteries and violent tools of imperialist expansion.
In a different direction, spaces may also produce and regulate human bodies in various ways, based on race, gender, class, and more. Discourses in neuro-architecture and psychogeography have pointed to affective spatial qualities and how they influence our experience – evident for example in our mental and cognitive sense of location and navigation. Continuing on a long-term research trajectory about systems of migration, Oscar Gonzalez’s work plots localized patterns of mobility tied to socioeconomic factors, while also grappling with how mapping practices have historically been instruments for controlling bodies and spaces. Through a set of immersive installations, Yasmin Spiro explores how our understanding of place is channeled through sensory experience and memory, with particular emphasis on non-visual modes of developing familiarity and orientation. Meanwhile, Colleen Keihm’s pieces conjure a defamiliarization of space through gestures of layering, blending and interposing that rupture the perceived continuity of two-dimensional and three-dimensional planes.
Across these six artists’ works, the human figure is not always imaged or signified in a literal way, but is nonetheless undeniably present: Aoki’s fragments become a synecdoche for body and scene; Surdell’s painted forms evoke tendons, ligaments, and other aspects of bodily exertion; passing or pausing at Forrester’s panoramas is either mimicked by motion blur or a halted moment to potentially encounter the Divine in nature; Gonzalez and Spiro both directly implicate the gallery viewer’s body in a multisensory experience; and Keihm’s spatial collages balance stark abstraction against a subtle tactility which perhaps helps ground the accompanying disorientation.
Form Without Plan is organized by Greg Ruffing.