'HereThereEverywhere' Map Exhibit Finds Its Place


01.24.08

"HereThereEverywhere," the penultimate artistic entry in the citywide Festival of Maps, is a sometimes surprising exhibition that extends the Chicago Cultural Center's 1994 examination of artists and maps beyond traditional media into cyberspace.

Through the work of 19 contemporary artists, it offers the broadest view of any of the map/art shows thus far, and because it does, gives the best introduction to an interest that did not exist before the 1960s and has fairly exploded in the last decade.

By taking the Museum of Contemporary Art's ongoing "Mapping the Self," along with "HereThereEverywhere," viewers have the rare opportunity to see not only historic Conceptual and book pieces but also freshly minted paintings, sculptures, photographs, installations and videos that use maps as springboards to all manner of ideas about the world and one's interior life.


In 1994, I missed having more examples of work with a conceptual approach to art, but that is certainly not the case here. Ideas dominate just about all the works on view, and if Ben Whitehouse's video and Gisela Insuaste's construction stand out, it is because each offers a vision with something of the traditional pleasure of landscape that is sensual, not depending on words or cerebration.

It is to the credit of the organizers that most concept-based pieces have visual, and in some instances strongly visceral, appeal. Josh Dorman's maps of the worlds of Alzheimer's patients, for example, are biographies in collage and paint that speak as highly specific documents. Like Paula Scher's map of the United States, they appear equally concerned with issues of drawing and painting and become less charts than full-fledged aesthetic objects.

The polish characteristic of our conservative times finds its way even into Danica Dakic's video installation inspired by a German museum of historic wallpapers and Draga Susanj's deployment of organic pods found in the artist's native Serbia and the United States. The results, which in each case might have been raw given the content and/or materials, have a formal elegance that many works like them elsewhere sidestep.

The most "difficult" piece is, by far, the Web project by Frances Whitehead and a team known as ARTetal, but the demands it puts on viewers are relaxed by the humor of Vik Muniz's photographs, which lightly play with significant ideas where other entries may appear to strain a little over them.

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"HereThereEverywhere" continues at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., through April 6; a discussion with one of the curators and artists is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday; curator talks are scheduled for 12:15 p.m. Feb. 7 and April 3. 312-744-6630.