Sep 8th 2023

Mark Diaz / Naomi Elson / Michael Thompson

@ Ignition project space

3839 W Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60651

Opening Friday, September 8th, from 6PM - 9PM

On view through Saturday, September 30th

Mark Diaz
solo exhibition
September 1 – 30, 2023
Caldera, 2022 (an audio project)

In this audio installation, I read two English translations of the Philippine national epic Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal. Set during the Spanish Colonial Period of the Philippines, Noli chronicles the Spanish Church’s and colonial ruler’s exploits of the native population of the islands. Originally written in Spanish and published in 1887, Noli was instrumental in carving a national identity and consciousness among colonized subjects from various regions and islands. It is worth noting that it largely exists in the Filipino imagination through Tagalog and English translations.

The audio recording captures my initial encounter with the text. The left channel, First Encounter, is a 1996 translation, and the right channel, Second Encounter, is a 1912 translation. The recording documents the filling of a space of nostalgia and suggests a transformation in real-time. Accompanying the audio is video footage of me in my apartment working from home, reading, taking an online butoh class, and carrying out domestic tasks.

First Encounter – translation by Soledad Lacson-Locsin, 1996
Second Encounter – translation by Charles Derbyshire, 1912
Mark Alcazar Diaz, was born in Manila and lives and works in Chicago, Illinois, is an artist, educator, and arts administrator. He works in a variety of media, including video, drawing, and object making, to examine issues around migration, memory of place, and natureculture. Using everyday materials and documentary approaches to making moving images and sound, he explores the tensions between what is palpable and what is imperceptible, what is constructed and what is expunged. Diaz received a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois Chicago.

Naomi Elson
solo exhibition
September 1 – 30, 2023
Naomi Elson’s studio is a playground with no rules, to just explore materials and see where they lead. She collects materials from recycled waste, hand-me-downs, and found, discarded or thrifted materials. Many times they sit in her studio until a use or purpose is found for them. She takes apart and reconstructs past pieces to create something new. A piece is never really complete or safe of becoming something new; the death of one piece breathes life into another. Working with found & recycled materials gives her freedom to destroy and explore possible outcomes, without fear of ruining. Yarn, paper, cardboard, plastic, found materials, and past works are used in her process. From these materials, Elson creates interactive, immersive, tactile environments that offer viewers a different experience each time.

Naomi Elson was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. She received her MFA from Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Illinois. Following graduation, Naomi moved to Chicago, where she has shown at several galleries, including GIFC at Western Exhibitions, Heaven Gallery, Ground Level Platform, Nightlight Gallery and Studios (now called “Cleaner Gallery”), ARC Gallery, Unpacked Mobile Gallery, Rubberneck Gallery, Bucktown Gallery, Zhou B Art Center, and Purple Window Gallery. In 2020, Naomi was a HATCH Resident at Chicago Artist Coalition. She is currently living in Michigan City, Indiana, right outside of Chicago, where she is Gallery Shop Manager at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts.

Michael Thompson
outdoor installation
September 1 – 30, 2023
“Dud” is the latest piece in a series of faux objects that the artist Michael Thompson has created over the years. An homage and acknowledgement of the horrors being perpetrated in the Ukrainian conflict, the sculpture testifies to both the random and usually catastrophic nature of dumb bombs and the rare and quixotic anomaly of the failure of these armaments.
Thompson’s pursuit of the spurious has included the printing, perforating and mailing of fake postage stamps, the creation of a set of the rubber stamp signatures of the most forged artists in the 20th century and the fabricating of a floating WW II mine that was tethered on the Chicago River (much to the consternation of Maritime authorities). These tongue-in-cheek explorations scrutinize the current controversies emboldened by the ascendancy of fake news, AI and other forms of disinformation. They are humorous retorts to a world increasingly divided, vitriolic, and bereft of reasonableness.

Gallery hours: Saturdays 12-5 and by appointment. Please email to make an appointment outside of business hours
Image: Naomi Elson

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