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“Phantoms in the Dirt”
Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, Illinois
Recommendation by Robin Dluzen


Shane Ward, "Souvenir," 2013, steel, bronze, aluminum, rust, resin, brass, and plinths

Continuing through October 5, 2014

“Phantoms in the Dirt” features the work of 16 artists, brought together by Karsten Lund, a Curatorial Assistant from the Museum of Contemporary Art. Inspired by a quote from Yve-Alain Bois and Rosalind Krauss reminding artists that their work exists in the real world, and that a viewer still has “his or her feet … in the dirt,” the exhibition addresses notions of the earth, grit and the place of art in that mix, both literally and figuratively.  

Commanding works by Richard Mosse and Harold Mendez open the exhibition, with Mosse’s signature pink infrared photography providing a view of the natural landscape impossible for us to observe beyond his aesthetic manipulations. Mendez’s wall-sized installation of coated eucalyptus bark is both a rich surface abounding with texture and a dense void of nothingness. A pair of photographs by Eileen Mueller features the natural landscape imbued with mystery, particularly in the case of “As the film passes through the gate,” in which the branches of the wooded background threaten to swallow up a lone, spindly camera aimed directly, unsettlingly at the viewer. With “Souvenirs,” Shane Ward contributes a collection of rusty, patina-ed objects arranged on low pedestals like excavated specimens. Removed as they are from their original contexts, Ward displays them democratically — a combination of earthiness and obscurity that is as alluring viscerally as it is conceptually.

Museum of Contemporary Photography | MoCP

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