TARGETED group show opens today!

We are proud to present Targeted, a three-person show that marks the Chicago debut of work by Omar Imam, Garrett O. Hansen, and Colleen Plumb, which addresses the effects of violence and captivity on individuals and communities. The show opens today, July 14, and runs through September 1, 2017.

The opening reception is tonight, July 14 from 5:00-8:00pm, as a part of the River North Gallery District’s Mid Summer Art Walk. Over 15 galleries will have summer exhibitions on view, and local restaurants will offer food and drink specials. Stop by CEG for the opening of Targeted, and stick around for the after party at Bar Lupo. Read more about the Art Walk here.

 

Every day the news about Syria is dire, as the country finds itself in a civil war with no apparent end. As of today, 6.6 million people have been displaced and the number keeps rising. More than 400,000 people have been murdered, and hundreds of thousands more have been severely beaten, starved and detained. More than 17,000 people have died in Syrian prisons, as a result of torture or inhumane conditions, and another 13,000 sentenced to death. The horror in Syria is now entering its 6th year, as the government seems to be systematically annihilating its people.

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Untitled, 2015 © Omar Imam, part of the series Live, Love, Refugee.

In 2012, Syrian activist turned photographer Omar Imam (b. 1979, Damascus) was kidnapped and tortured by a militia and only let go when a friend intervened. Soon after, Imam left Damascus with his parents and wife, settling in Beirut where he and his wife started a family. In 2016, he moved to Amsterdam, where he currently resides. His family recently received paperwork that will finally allow them to join him.

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Untitled, 2015 © Omar Imam, part of the series Live, Love, Refugee.

Live, Love, Refugee is Imam’s photographic response to the chaos erupting in his homeland. In refugee camps across Lebanon, Imam collaborated with Syrians to create photographs that talked about their reality, rather than presenting them as a simple statistic. As a refugee himself, Imam understands the loss and chaos of being displaced from ones home. But dreams cannot be eradicated — dreams of escape, dreams of love, and dreams of terror. These dreams are what Imam set out to capture. The resulting images peel back the façade of flight, to reveal the spirit of those who persevere, despite losing everything that was familiar. These composed photographs challenge our perception of victimization, offering access into the heart and soul of humanity.

In the United States, roughly 40% of households own a firearm. There are enough guns—approximately 300 million—to arm nearly every man, woman, and child in the country. This statistic is at the core of work being done by Garrett O. Hansen (b. 1979, NYC). In 2013, Hansen moved from Indonesia to teach at the University of Kentucky. It was in Lexington that the prevalence of gun culture caught his attention and became the focus of his work. He began making weekly visits to a local gun range and collecting the cardboard pieces that sit behind familiar targets of a generic unarmed silhouette. Each shooter is given a fresh target, while the backings slowly erode from the rounds shot at the figures chest and head. In Silhouette, Hansen brings these pieces of cardboard into the darkroom, where he creates full sized contact prints of them. These photographs are then scanned and form the basis for the final pieces that are made of mirrored Plexiglas and represent a one-to-one replica of the original cardboard backings. As viewers approach the piece, they see their own reflections hollowed out by the countless bullets. Through this series, Hansen seeks to engage the viewer in a broader discussion about gun culture in America.

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Memorial, Chicago, 2016 © Garrett O. Hansen

According to available data, 2016 was the deadliest year in the city of Chicago since 1997. A huge uptick in violence resulted in 723 gun deaths… the highest of any city. The entire state of Kentucky had 278. In his newest series Memorial, Hansen examines these statistics by physically shooting pieces of paper multiple times, from which he creates gelatin silver prints, mirroring the number of gun deaths in each month. A comparison between Chicago and Kentucky will be on view. Through pieces of paper riddled with bullet holes, Hansen illuminates the heavy price of an armed civilian population.

Most people encounter endangered animals in a zoo, behind protective glass or a large moat. Designed to educate, preserve and foster conservationism, zoos have come under fire by animal rights activists who question the welfare of captured animals in an artificial environment. Colleen Plumb (b. 1970, Chicago) tackles these issues in Path Infinitum, a video projection that explores the complexities and contradictions of keeping wild animals in captivity and raises questions about our participation as a spectator.

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Sunda (Topeka, Kansas) at Train Bridge, North Branch Chicago RIver, Chicago, Illinois, 2016 © Colleen Plumb

Traveling to more than 60 zoos in the U.S. and Europe, Plumb filmed animals exhibiting stereotypy, a behavior only seen in captive animals, which includes rhythmic rocking, swaying, head bobbing, stepping back and forth and pacing. Path Infinitum looks at elephants, lions, and polar bears, along with many other animals that exhibit stereotypy or hopelessness due to lack of adequate mental stimulation or an inability to engage in natural activities. As more and more animals face extinction due to human consumption, sport and profit, Plumb raises questions that are meant to provoke discussion and raise awareness about endangered species.

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A still from Path Infinitum © Colleen Plumb, film projection on CEG’s front windows

In conjunction with the opening of Targeted, Facets Cinémathèque is hosting a screening of Unlocking the Cage, a documentary about animal advocacy group, Nonhuman Rights Project. NhRP’s executive director, Kevin Schneider, will join Colleen Plumb in a discussion about art’s role in litigating for nonhuman beings, immediately following the film. The event is FREE and begins at 5pm, Saturday, July 15. RSVP here!

Omar Imam is an Amsterdam-based, Syrian photographer and filmmaker. In his photographic works, Imam uses irony and a conceptual approach to respond to the violent situation in Syria, often publishing his work under a pseudonym. After leaving Damascus in late 2012, he began making fictional short films that often focus on the Syrian refugee experience. Individually and with NGOs, he has produced films, photographic projects, and workshops for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. In April 2017 he received the Tim Hetherington Visionary Award.

Garrett O. Hansen graduated from Grinnell College in 2002, where he studied economics and political science. He completed his MFA in photography at Indiana University in 2010, and has taught at several universities in the United States and in Asia; he is now an Assistant Professor of Photography at the University of Kentucky. Hansen has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in the United States, Europe, Indonesia, and Japan.

Colleen Plumb works in photography, video, public installation, and object making, tackling the relationship between animals and humans. Her work is held in several permanent collections and has been widely exhibited nationally. Her video projections have taken her from the Grand Teton National Park to Berlin, Paris, New Mexico, and most recently to New York City, where she projected Path Infinitum onto the doors of Pier 94 during The Photography Show, presented by AIPAD.

You can see the entire exhibition by visiting our website.

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Gallery Artists 2017 opens tonight + Art NY continues

Join us tonight for the opening of our spring exhibition, Gallery Artists 2017, which brings together highlights from our last year of programming along with new work by artists we represent.

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Featured artists include Keliy Anderson-Staley, Daniel Beltrá, Julie Blackmon, Clarissa Bonet, Kate Breakey, John Cyr, Floriane de Lassée, Dan Estabrook, Michael Kenna, Gustavo Lacerda, Ysabel LeMay, Laurent Millet, Serge Najjar, Robert & Shana ParkeHarrison, Olivia Parker, Francesco Pergolesi, and Gregory Scott. We will be open until 7 pm for the reception in conjunction with River North’s monthly First Fridays. The exhibition is on view May 5 – July 8, 2017.

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Also through July 8, we will be revisiting the moments we spent hearing about the artwork from the artists themselves. Over the years, our Chat Room and Artists Talks initiatives have provided us with enormous insight into the creative lives of our photographers. Keep an eye out for these videos on our social media channels, or re-watch your favorites on Vimeo. Visit CEG’s website to see all the images in the exhibition!

Laurent Millet: Somnium opens Friday!

We are delighted to present the first Chicago exhibition for French photographer Laurent Millet, whose photography combines the inquisitiveness of a scientist with the wonder of a child. We will present four different bodies of work that examines his ongoing fascination between the real and the imagined, and our relationship with objects. Somnium opens March 3 and runs through April 29, 2017.

There will be an opening reception on Friday, March 3 from 5:00-7:00 pm.
The artist will be present.

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There is a rich history of artists constructing environments simply to be photographed and then disassembled. These created realities were prevalent in the 1980s, as works by Sandy Skoglund, Bernard Faucon, Bruce Charlesworth, James Welling and other artists burst onto the scene. All of these artists worked with objects to create a narrative, captured by the camera. Laurent Millet (b. 1968 France) continues to work in this tradition, using various 19th c. printing techniques to magnify his vision.

As he stated in a 2014 interview in L’Oeil de la Photographie: “I felt like I had to take refuge in something that was comforting and reassuring… This idea brought me back to what I did as a child in the countryside when I would play with wood and stones. I rediscovered that pleasure as an adult… Starting with the first things I built, fishing machines, I felt like a world was opening up in which I could really exist. These objects are powered by my personal fictions, my dream of another life. The photograph is proof of that, a record of the moment, a reward.”

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For more than twenty years, Laurent Millet has channeled his innate curiosity to create photographs that question the way objects appear within space and time. Citing R. Buckminster Fuller and Denis Diderot among his influences, Millet creates an artistic vocabulary through metal wire, vineyard posts and barrel hoops – objects prevalent in the coastal town of France in which he resides. His 1997 series, Petites Machines Littorales, addressed his surroundings, as he transformed the sea into a place for scientific experimentation, creating contraptions that suggest a way to measure water or listen to fish. These “machines” invite curiosity and questions, much like a child experimenting in a science lab. In his 2000 series Les Cabanes, Millet continues to build structures in the water, yet this time they appear to be bridges, ladders, architectural pieces and fences, suggesting a relationship between water and sky. The 2002 series, La Chasse, features objects that could be used to trap, to capture that which is hard to contain. And finally, in the 2014/15 series, Somnium, the artist photographed himself with geometric objects, polyhedra, that he fabricated. These images seem paranormal yet familiar, as the artist engages with objects hovering in the air, recording his encounter.

His work can be seen in numerous publications including his 2014 book, Les Enfantillages Pittoresques (Filigranes Editions) and in major museum collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago, Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Fonds National d’art Contemporain (Paris), among others.

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Visit CEG’s website to see all the images in the exhibition!

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First solo show in USA by Lebanese photographer, Serge Najjar, opens today!

We are excited to present A Closer Look at the Ordinary, the first solo exhibition in the USA by Beirut born photographer Serge Najjar. The show opens January 6 and runs through February 25, 2017.

There will be an opening reception on Friday, January 6 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
The artist will be present.

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From New York to Beijing, countless strangers dash across city streets in a constant state of frenzy, rushing to their destinations. But every now and then we see someone pause, marveling at his or her surroundings. It is this stillness that Serge Najjar seeks, with one simple guideline, “It is not about what you see but how you see it.”

Five years ago Najjar started photographing the interaction of people and architecture in his native Beirut. Influenced by the work of Kazimir Malevich, Josef Albers, Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, and Alexander Rodchenko, Najjar took to the streets, focusing his lens on daily routines: construction workers sitting on a building ledge during lunch break, the sharp lines of a high-rise facade, a man looking out an open window, and children sitting on a windowsill. Whether working in Beirut, Munich or other places he visits, Najjar’s vision is unwavering – to show other people what they may not see themselves. As he states:

“There is no such thing as an ideal place to photograph, or an ideal city. Architecture inspires me, but my whole approach towards photography is to focus on what people consider as common… the people I photograph are complete strangers. I never plan where I go and what or who to shoot. My images are faithful to what I see. And every single Saturday morning I am convinced that I will never capture the picture I had the chance to capture the week before…. It is a thin line between the ugly and the beautiful, the ordinary and the extraordinary, between chaos and order.“

A Closer Look at the Ordinary celebrates the powerful relationship between man and architecture. Through quiet photographs, Serge Najjar creates a dialogue about city living, and the stillness that can exist, if we slow down and focus on the ordinary.

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Visit CEG’s website to see all the images in the exhibition!

Today Is History: Kate Breakey, Dan Estabrook & Jerry Spagnoli Opening Reception

We are excited to present three photographers in Today is History, which examines the use of early photographic techniques among today’s practitioners. Work by Kate Breakey, Dan Estabrook and Jerry Spagnoli will be featured. The show opens November 4 and runs through December 31, 2016.

Opening reception:
Friday, November 4, 2016
5:00 – 7:30pm

Gallery view - Today is History exhibition
Gallery view – Today is History exhibition

First it was questioned as art. Then painters used it as a tool. Decades later it was still defending itself as a viable art form. And now, more than 175 years after its inception, photography is an exalted medium, embraced by galleries, collectors and museums worldwide. While photographers engage with new technologies and new means of presentation, many artists working today still incorporate historical techniques in their work. Today is History brings together three artists who work with 19th / 20th c. processes to talk about present day concerns.

Kate Breakey (B. 1957 Adelaide, South Australia) is best known for her large-scale photographic work with birds and flowers that she painstakingly brings back to life with colored pencils. These pieces can be seen in two monographs, Small Deaths (2001) and Flowers/Birds (2003). In 2014, Breakey turned her focus to the land, and the small details of everyday life: a hummingbird resting on a tree limb, a wilting tulip, figs on a counter, the moon setting over the mountain, trees swaying in the evening dusk. Produced as Orotones (prints made on glass and backed with 23k gold leaf) Breakey creates small objects that command our attention, using an early technique to comment on the beauty, fragility and simplicity of her daily surroundings.

Kate Breakey's salon style installation
Kate Breakey’s salon style installation

For more than 30 years, Dan Estabrook’s (b. 1969 Boston, MA) work has been at the intersection of yesterday and today. Working with salt prints, calotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes, Estabrook creates art that echoes his life, loves, desires and fears. Like many practitioners before him, he turns the camera on himself to make contemporary works inspired by the gap between today’s photographic perfection and the past’s technical limitations. As he states: “Using 19th-century techniques and celebrating their flaws and failures, I make seemingly anonymous photographs in order to re-imagine a more personal and dream-like history of photography, seen from a 21st-century perspective. With these processes, I can create my own ‘found photos’ – highly personal objects in which to hide my own secrets and stories.”

Jerry Spagnoli (b. 1956 New York City, NY) is credited as today’s preeminent photographer working with the daguerreotype, a polished copper plate treated with mercury vapor. Using this material, Spagnoli has photographed significant historical events, including the horrors of the World Trade Center and the beauty of Times Square on the eve of the Millennium. In his 2012 series, Glasses, Spagnoli tackles the reflective quality of everyday water glasses. As he states, “Ultimately my use of various materials and methods is centered in my desire to make complicated stories out of the everyday world, which is my apparent subject matter. Photography allows me to engage viewers with images and ideas which are filtered through the abstracting apparatus of the camera and woven into the matrix of its rich history.”

Today is History: Kate Breakey, Dan Estabrook & Jerry Spagnoli
November 4 – December 31, 2016
Please visit our website to view all images in this exhibition.

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Ctrl+P: Photography taken offline – Leigh Merrill

We are excited to feature the work of Leigh Merrill as the next Ctrl+P: Photography Taken Offline artist. Merrill’s photographs and videos will be on view September 9 – October 29, 2016!

Leigh Merrill’s work examines the construction of desire, fiction and beauty in our urban landscapes. The subjects in Merrill’s photographs are often created from ubiquitous objects and architecture. Familiar elements such as the lawn, manicured and manipulated plants, new buildings mimicking other eras and locations, often reveal a culture of perpetual longing. Elements of our constructed environments simulate, or reference other places and histories acting as evidence of desire. Merrill often mixes together the real and the fake in her work to create images of places and objects that challenge our expectations or reveal the simulacrum in our environments.

White Street, 2009
White Street, 2009

Merrill’s process begins by making thousands of individual photographs, videos, and audio recordings while exploring a city or neighborhood. In the studio, she then digitally assembles these sources to create photographs and videos of imaginary spaces. Some of the images have some veracity, but more often they suggest a visual hyperbole – an embellished scene circulating around a small detail or object that fascinated her. These composite images function as a metaphor to the ways in which desire and control is physically constructed in the landscape.

Lemmon at Mahanna Street, 2012 (still from video)
Lemmon at Mahanna Street, 2012 (still from video)

Leigh Merrill received her BFA from the University of New Mexico and her MFA from Mills College (Oakland, CA). Merrill’s work has been a part of exhibitions throughout the United States in venues such as the Phoenix Art Museum, the diRosa Art Preserve, The Lawndale Art Center, the Tremaine Gallery, Fotofest International, and the Museum of Texas Tech University. Merrill’s work has been included in online and print publications such as the Design Observer/Places Journal, Dwell.com, BLDGBLOG blog, PaperCity Magazine, and the Washington Post. Her work is part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Texas Tech University, the City of Phoenix, the California Institute of Integral Studies, as well as various private collections. Merrill currently lives and works in Dallas, Texas, where she is an Assistant Professor of Art at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

LINKS:
Leigh Merrill website
Aint–Bad
Dwell
Lenscratch
Places Journal

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Ctrl+P: Photography taken offline is an exciting venture at Catherine Edelman Gallery inspired by the hundreds of photographs we see on blogs and online galleries. Started in January 2011, CEG introduces Chicagoans to new artists we find while searching the web, exhibiting a small selection of one person’s work every two months, taking the pictures offline and putting them on the wall. It is our goal that Ctrl+P will provide further exposure for these photographers away from the glow of a computer monitor and without the temptation to click to the next link. We hope you will join us by unplugging from the internet and visiting CEG to see these photographs the way they were intended — in print.

Clarissa Bonet: City Space + Stray Light opening reception!

We are thrilled to present our first solo exhibition for Clarissa Bonet, whose photographic work is garnering terrific international press! City Space + Stray Light runs from September 9 – October 29, 2016.

The opening reception is Friday, September 9,  5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
The artist will be in attendance.

The concept of place, and our relationship to it, is at the heart of Clarissa Bonet’s work, who was born and raised in Tampa, Florida – a coastal port city known for its amazing climate, sports teams, national defense outposts, and healthcare businesses. While the city is currently undergoing a population growth, it used to be a quiet place dominated by the warm gulf water. In 2010, Bonet moved to Chicago to attend graduate school at Columbia College Chicago. She immediately noticed the density of the city, its people, and its traffic. As she wandered the city, she was stunned by the isolation she felt among the throngs of people rushing along the sidewalks. It was this feeling that led her to City Space, an ongoing body of work about individuality in a large city.

Mixed Use, 2016
Mixed Use, 2016

Walking for hours, Bonet uses her phone to photograph the interactions between people, architecture and light. Later, she would revisit these places and recreate the feeling she had first experienced, hiring models to play specific roles at the precise time of day when the light was perfect. The resulting photographs are carefully staged memories that appear to be snapshots of everyday city life. As she states: “The urban space is striking. Its tall and mysterious buildings, crowds of anonymous people, and endless sea of concrete constantly intrigue me. The images I create provide a personal interpretation of the urban landscape.”

In Progress, 2016
In Progress, 2016

In 2014, Bonet embarked on a second ongoing project, Stray Light, which looks at the anonymity of people in their homes at night. Bonet photographs once the sun sets, capturing the colorful glows from hotel and apartment windows.  Back in her studio, she carefully constructs each image from multiple photographs, transforming the urban cityscape into a constellation, as the mind tries to organize the information presented. Ultimately, the viewer is left dazzled by the glow emanating from windows that fill the city skies, much like the stars do on a clear night, far away from the lights of an urban landscape.

SL.2016.0215 NYC, 2016
SL.2016.0215 NYC, 2016

Clarissa Bonet (b. 1986) has already exhibited in numerous group shows in the United States. Her work can be found in the collections of the Southeast Museum of Photography (Daytona Beach, FL), The Haggerty Museum (Milwaukee, WI) and the JP Morgan Art Collection (New York, NY), as well as many private collections. Recent press includes articles in The Wall Street Journal, The Week, and PDN, among others.

The entire show can be viewed on our website!