The sixteen artists in this exhibition present an array of physical remnants and enigmatic traces, ranging from cryptic objects to the marks of human activity in rugged landscapes. Searching for phantoms in the dirt, so to speak, their works reckon with the facts of matter, the nature of photographic imagery, and the forces (sometimes invisible) that leave their mark on our surroundings. In doing so, they are also considering how the visible and the tangible—or sometimes what our senses can't apprehend at all—shape our encounters with the world around us or generate mutable senses of meaning. Perhaps tellingly, their work is often both matter-of-fact and mysterious, an empirical approach even giving way to atmospheric or inscrutable results. At the same time, these works offer a range of outlooks on the possibilities of photography and sculpture. One medium would seem to favor the aloof image, the other matter itself; both, however, offer myriad ways to examine, or grapple with, the material world, whether at its most substantial or elusive.
Guest curated by Karsten Lund (Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago).
Phantoms in the Dirt is presented in collaboration with the Contemporary Arts Council.
Generous support for Phantoms in the Dirt is provided by the Efroymson Family Fund. Additional support is made possible by the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and the Danish Arts Foundation.
Complete exhibition essay