Monday, September 21, 2015

Xavier Wrona at Archive House

Theaster Gates' Dorchester Project is, as you will imagine, a great inspiration to EbM. His intense engagement with and dedication to his community through ReBuild is a  powerful example of contemporary art as a tool for creation, growth, faith, and belief. It is a powerful rejection of the nihilism which first attracted me to art, but which I hope EbM helps me turn my back on. The nihilism of art too often is a crude gloss over a shallow narcissism, self-absorption, selfishness.
The Archive House at Dorchester Projects hosted an open house yesterday. French architect Xavier Wrona gave tours of the installation he is creating during his three-month residency there. The installation, Georges Bataille, Architecture, Chicago and World Order – An Essay on General Economy, is powerful and lovely. Below it is liberally photographed along with the backyard of the DP spaces.

If I am being honest, the work deeply appeals to me because I feel an affinity with it. From the assault of text, to the celebration of Bataille, to the aggressive call for discussion of Utopian futures, it is a space transformed by curiosity and desire. The insistence on architecture as the design and building of human space, physical and psychological inseparably intertwined, is a touchstone of EbM for me. Exhibits where I find my own jumbled, confused, absurdly expressed feelings in some way given voice, naturally these are the art installations that speak most to me.
The installation almost certainly fails in its attempt to speak to a larger audience, stumbling on the language and ideas of specialization. I thought it was clear and concise in expressing the idea of architecture as a historical method for confining thought, and in so doing building polity and identity. My wife, however, after the tour by Wrona where he explained the manifestos and images taped up around the house, expressed deep appreciation that we were there for this open house and to hear him speak, as he made clear much that the installation itself did not for her. She's no slouch, with a strong background in philosophy and a masters from Columbia in public policy. This suggests to me that my long familiarity with Bataille and my degree in visual criticism played a larger role in my understanding of the show than I recognized.
If any of our Chicago compatriots make it down to the show, I would love to hear about your experience with it. For me, the show expiates and engages and enlivens ideas that should be a part of public discourse and discussion. This show screams for change in our world, but not from a place of blind, enraged self-certainty, instead from a place of open dialogue and thoughtful discussion. It is more didactic than Dorchester Projects and the other surrounding projects by Gates, works I think will last much longer and be far more important because they resist didacticism, but it is a beautiful work of art, nonetheless.
As part of the show, Wrona will be broadcasting a webcast/telecast in the coming months. Once that is up I will link to it.

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