Double Bind juxtaposes works by Melissa Pokorny and Julia Hechtman, artists who are addressing the sense of presence humans feel as they interface with natural conditions.
Melissa Pokorny’s work focuses on the sense of place and its role in structuring memory and identity. Her large-scale sculptures, mixed media tableaux, and installations incorporate fragmented images of landscape and nature that highlight contested spaces, edges, and boundaries between human and non-human worlds. In recent years, travel and residencies have played a pivotal role in the development of Pokorny work. She walks as a way to explore landscape, history, use, reclamation, and biodiversity. In summer 2017, she had a month-long residency at the Ragdale Foundation, in Lake Forest, IL, walking daily through the fifty-acre prairie there and taking photographs that amplify the act of looking, seeing, being-with, being-in, just being. Pokorny is a Professor in the School of Art + Design at University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign.
Julia Hechtman is a visual artist who makes works dealing with issues of agency and control, absence and presence, and real-time experience in her multi-faceted studio practice. The natural world features prominently in her works, which has allowed her to travel extensively and to contemplate the familiar in new ways. Her favorite place to go is Iceland, and for the past several years she has been taking students there for an immersive and intense video production Study Abroad. Hechtman received her MFA from University of Illinois at Chicago and her BFA from Syracuse University. She is currently a Fulbright Scholar in Reykjavik at Lístaháskolí Íslands, where she is working as a visiting professor while also conducting her own research into the roles of landscape and memory in identity production.
Directed by David L. Hays and Jonathan Solomon, Space p11 explores divergent futures and evolving alternatives to modern progress, bringing people and ideas together through exhibitions, performances, talks, and reading groups that foreground outside research, extra-disciplinarity, shared agency, and distributed expertise.
Space p11 is located within the Pedway, a network of pedestrian tunnels and bridges, commercial spaces, government facilities, transit stations, and other public and private infrastructure threaded throughout the Loop, in the heart of downtown Chicago. Out of sight but within easy reach, the Pedway is used daily by thousands of commuters, residents, and students to whom it offers shortcuts through the urban grid and shelter from extreme weather, yet it remains little known to others.
Space p11 is a project of Acute Angles, Inc., a Chicago-based non-profit committed to editorial, curatorial, and event-based projects in arts and culture, and publisher of the journal Forty-Five. Designed by Chicago architects Future Firm, the gallery appropriates methods of retail display—from picture windows to neon signage—to reach an audience of commuters, residents, students, and explorers.
Photos courtesy Space p11.