Effervescent Condition opens June 4th at Gallery X

Robin Dluzen

“Effervescent Condition,” opening at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Gallery X on Friday, June 4, is a manifestation of the way that new and old media, globalization and interconnectivity combine to create the particular environment that contemporary artists find themselves within. This exhibition will be taking place simultaneously with the Xuzhou Museum of Art in China, as part of their larger exhibition –which opened May 14– entitled, “The Power of Copying.”

“Effervescent Condition,” curated by recent MA Arts Administration and Policy graduate, Fang-Tze Hsu, employs the works of five artists to illustrate the active arena that is the global contemporary art world. The curator explains that the shows title references “anthropologist Aihwa Ong, who uses the term ‘effervescent’ to describe the metamorphosis of citizenship under globalization, in which highly-skilled, creative individuals are enticed to move freely from one metropolis to the other.” The five artists from around the world, all in Chicago for the time being, reiterate the notion of the intersection of practices from multiple points of origin. Hsu explains that “the exhibition breaks through the boundaries of time and space by duplicating and setting up shop in two gallery spaces, exhibiting both incarnations simultaneously.”

Strip/ North Spaulding Ave. vs. Strip/ Xuzhou is a video installation of footage shot from the side of a bicycle by recent SAIC MFA graduate in Art and Technology, and the recipient of the Claire Rosen and Samuel Edes Foundation Prize, Nadav Assor. The documented navigation of North Spaulding Avenue, from Garfield Park to Lincolnwood, and that of the urban environment in Xuzhou are combined, bringing together the conditions of two cities from opposite sides of the globe.

Also engaging directly with the two sites of the exhibition is SAIC 2010 Art and Technology MFA graduate and Fulbright Scholar, Florian Graf. In An Arch Type, the artist presented two groups of student artists with a concept; the two groups, one based in Chicago and one from China, built models according to that concept and then photographed these objects. The photograph of the model by the Chicago group was sent to the China group, and vice versa, in order for each group to replicate what the other group had made in the photo. The differences between the copies embody the effects of interpretation and mediation.

Adelheid Mers, SAIC Assistant Professor in Arts Administration and Policy contributes to the exhibition, Diagram of Effervescent Condition. In the form of a free poster for visitors, Mers’ diagram is based on interviews with her fellow participating artists and the curator. Through her discussions, the artist is able to use text and images to map out the relationships between the artists’ individual practices, and as well as the concepts of the works for the exhibition. Through this, Mers not only brings the makers’ intentions back into the exhibition space, but also uses the exhibition itself as a platform for subsequent creation.

For the opening of the Xuzhou exhibition, SAIC Film, Video and New Media graduate student, Joshua Sampson staged DodgeDraw, a performance from 5:00-6:00 am on May 14 in Chicago to coincide with the 6:00-7:00 pm opening in China. Using media inspired by up-to-date digital communication (like Skype, AIM and iChat), combined with traditional media (like drawing and painting), Sampson encouraged participants to engage with “a life-size video projection relayed in real time.” DodgeDraw employs online, digital media to connect people from different parts of the globe, to create a dialogue about the media themselves, as well as their place in contemporary culture, both inside and outside of the art world.

Yefeng Wang, SAIC Art and Technology graduate student, explores his position in contemporary Chinese society through his video installation, Battlefield.  The artist is contemplating his Chinese identity while residing in Chicago, creating a “secondary world” in which to create figures which embody his feelings of “contradiction, confusion and anxiety” shared with the post-80s generation in China. The “intermediaries,” human bodies with dragon skulls fused through digital media, allow the artist an objective point of view from which to look at himself and contemporary culture.

“Effervescent Condition” opens June 4 from 5:00-7:00 pm and continues through June 26, 2010at Gallery X, at The Art Institute of Chicago, 280 Columbus Drive, Chicago. The exhibition also runs from May 14 through July 14, 2010 at Xuzhou Museum of Art, Xuzhou City of Jiangsu Province, China.