Man, I love when the name of a gallery references where it is located. I mean, how convenient? Noble and Superior Projects had their first opening this past weekend with their show DOUBLE FANTASY featuring the work of Ivan Lozano and Kate Brock. The brand spanking new gallery is run by SAIC grad students Erin Nixon and Patrick Bobilin.
The space is an apartment that is not trying to be anything more than what it is. You enter through the kitchen. The show consists of an installation by Lozano and a small room of Brock’s photography. The installation is a projected video with sound, two circles on of video the wall, the bottom image falling onto a mirrored floor. The bottom is a male face, in agony or ecstasy, in extreme slow motion. The top image is more amorphous shapes, colors and patterns. The sound is repetitive and loud, like exceptionally unpleasant dance hall music. The piece is encompassing and engrossing, spilling off the wall onto the floor, changing the color of the entire space, with mesmerizing patterns. I couldn’t stop watching. Knowing a little bit of Lozano’s work, I understood the allusions to disco and could tease out the origins of the bottom face from some gay porn. However, because there wasn’t any literature available at the show, I think some of the subtleties that could have been enjoyed (where the footage came from, heck, even the title of the piece) were inaccessible.
Brock’s work was photography displayed in a small room off of the installation. There were four small black and white images, three slightly larger color, and four large color prints. They were all portraits of semi naked, thin, attractive people in various environments, sitting, standing, lounging, wearing brown paper bags to cover their heads. They are expertly executed portraits, visually stunning, with urban landscapes and intimate interior spaces as the backdrops. From the gallery website, the series (BAGHEAD, not sure why all caps) “highlights the shape of the body and forces the viewer to imagine each of her characters through the prism of an irreconcilable anonymity.” Well, yes. Because there is no face to connect your gaze, you are left looking at these people and their attractive bodies. I enjoy this idea of removing agency, and how the relationships between the characters are complicated by the lack of eye contact, in the series however it comes off as a sort of one-liner.
I did appreciate the dialog between Lozano’s work and Brock’s. There was delicate connection between where to place or locate the gaze in the photographic as well as an extreme emphasis on the gaze in the larger than life face in the installation. In the conversation between the work, Lozano’s work felt much more secure in a time and place (post-AIDS epidemic) while Brock’s work felt very contemporary it did not feel deeply attached to a history.
More so than the show itself, chatting with Nixon and Bobilin really excited me about the future of the space. They want to focus on two artists at a time; one working in a way that must be “experienced” (I’m thinking more video, installation, performance) and the other in a way that is able to be easily distributed. For this show, I got to take home a small photo of Brock’s work (packaged in a paper bag, no less). I think this could be a very dynamic experience, and with so many galleries or shows focused purely on one concept or the other, I am interested to see how this plan develops.
Noble and Superior Projects is located at 1418 W Superior St in Chicago, IL. They are open to the public Saturdays from 12-6 and monthly for openings. They can be contacted at nobleandsuperior (at) gmail.com