The University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery is pleased to present “Duet,” a mixed-media exhibit by Chicago-based artists Shir Ende and Max Guy. “Duet” will open on Monday, Jan. 19 and will run through Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. There will be no public reception for this exhibition.
The UIS Visual Arts Gallery hosted a remote artist talk and discussion with Shir Ende and Max Guy, to happen in conjunction with “Duet.” A recording of this event is below:
Exhibition text by Brit Barton:
A Duet is a duel as much as a dance.
While both genres become a study of some kind of choreography, the mutual understanding is that you go this way, I’ll go that way, and we will meet in the middle.
In Duet, a two-person exhibition centers around one relationship.
Bodies are amorphous, used as a means of content and production.
Space—domestic and institutional—is toyed with, conjured, and navigated.
For Duet, works have been created in a year where the performers are their own audience.
Set the scene for Middle America.
Look out the window. Is it snowing outside?
Shir Ende began making blueprints—a nod to an influence of architecture aligned with the aesthetics of a choreographic score—to complicate the picture of an exhibition space. Staring at the series UIS Gallery (Gray, Blue, Yellow) (2020), you can decipher reality as much as you can suspend it; the square outline demystifies the room you’re standing in, but the colorblock overlaying it doesn’t. Arrows plot through a line, occasionally outlining the perimeter, but in the direction of what?
While the screen printing process creates an easy layer over another, the work is not mechanically reprinted through editions. Each individual print is a variation of one another. They exist equally as an ode to real space and the room it could have been—had a staircase only been able to float, or a wall hovering horizontally over the floor, or a platform placed in the center—to add another sense of dimension to the otherwise standard square.
But the aim is a far cry from defying principles of physical relation or limitations, as it is only in an effort to act as if one would if one could.
In the Quarantine Yoga series, Max Guy has created sculptural work to walk past, return to, and reposition yourself in relation to it. Do you, as a viewer, corporally mimic the work that distorts itself in front of you? It is a strange form of Yoga—imaging how a limb can hang perpendicular or parallel to your core or head or foot—only to be left as a static floor sculpture.
The manner of its making also gestures to the isolationist aspect of the title. The eight pieces were initiated from photographs taken against a green screen this past autumn. The abstracted black lumps have been bent from the flatted body it initially depicted. The artists-as-actors posed their bodies unnaturally, sometimes comically. Inevitably, one thinks of being segmented, harkening back to the modernist magician trope of “Sawing the Lady In Half.” On the contrary, however, what could be more contemporary than contorting your own image for an inevitable viewer in mind?
Max continues the theme of the flattened self through scanned photography. In Box (1) (2020) and Box (2)(2020), the green screen image returns directly, albeit fractured and warped by a digital process known for documentation rather than fidelity. The artists embody a typical placeholder for woman and man in their various states of profile, creating a dichotomy that gives way to the many others that can be seen throughout Duet.
Notably, the two video works in the exhibition explore the chronological atmosphere of 2019 to 2020, or the nature of the domestic and public space. Created by Shir prior to any thought of a global pandemic, How to Make a Structure with the Horizon/ How to Make Windows for the Horizon (2019), takes place lakeside with an audio of soothing, crashing waves. The artists repeatedly try to align themselves with the horizon line. There are moments of playful intimacy in their geometric posing; other times they are alone for a few frames but not for long.
Motion between the two returns, a year later, in Movements for a Couch (2020). This time intimacy lies in the domestic, rather than the physical comportment between the performers. Initially inspired by choreographer Yvonne Rainer’s D.I.Y. Dance for Your Home as a guide to rearrange confinement, Shir and her familiar collaborator repeat their typical daily interactions—sitting, standing, walking—to encounter one another in a slapstick routine after weeks of monotony.
Though they are individual makers, the collaboration between the two artists is significant and Duet marks their first time exhibiting together exclusively. At times and through various processes, the artists confound the role of spectator and performer. Could the work have happened in a year stripped of isolation and a manifested fear for the other person? Maybe. Maybe not.
Brit Barton is an artist and writer based in Switzerland.
About the artists:
Shir Ende is a Chicago-based artist and educator. She received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has shown at Chicago Artist Coalition, Hyde Park Art Center, Heaven Gallery, Gallery 400, Terrain Biennial, Langer Over Dickie, South of the Tracks, Mana contemporary, Woman Made Gallery and was a sponsored artist at High Concept Labs. She has screened videos at Nightingale, Comfort Station and Roman Susan. She has participated in the Center Program at the Hyde Park Art Center and was a 2018-2019 Hatch Resident at the Chicago Artist Coalition.
Max Guy is a multidisciplinary artist who works with paper, video, performance, assemblage and installation. He uses appropriated material and deskilled working methods as a fast, ergonomic way of reflecting the world and filtering it through personal effects. In the process, his work constitutes a personal mythology or parallel universe of sorts. Guy received a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and a master’s degree in fine arts from the Department of Art, Theory and Practice at Northwestern University.
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
Location: Health and Sciences Building
Open: Aug. 27 – Nov. 19
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