The University of Chicago News Office
Nov. 11, 2004 Press Contact: Josh Schonwald
(773) 702-6421

Renaissance Society presents: A Perfect Union...more or less

Nov. 14 - Dec. 19, 2004

    Sample images:
Click any image for a full-size view.

People of Compassion
Joeff Davis
People of Compassion
Floor of the Republican National Convention
New York City, New York, 2004
Digital Archival Print
19" x 13"

Faith Voter and Flag
Joeff Davis
Faith Voter and Flag
Floor of the Republican National Convention
New York City, New York, 2004
Digital Archival Print

Project for a New American Century
Dominic McGill
Project for a New American Century, 2004
graphite on paper
6.7' x 65'

Flag and Its Shadow
Van McElwee
Flag and Its Shadow, 2004
looped video projection

Click any image for a full-size view.

Mary Ellen Carroll
Rob Conger
Jennifer Benka & Mark Wagner
Joeff Davis
Industry of the Ordinary (Adam Brooks & Mathew Wilson)
Jo Jackson
Rashid Johnson
Van McElwee
Dominic McGill
Jenny Perlin
Maryanne Simmons
Mark Themann

A Perfect Union...more or less will focus on the national fabric as the past four years have presented challenges to core principals Americans use to define themselves.  From a basic faith in the electoral system, to the United States' role and standing in the world community, Americans have had to do some serious soul searching about its social and political beliefs and values.  The marshalling of strong convictions (religious, political and patriotic) has taken its toll on Americans' ability to imagine the national fabric in any kind of whole, let alone holistic sense, feelings no doubt, exacerbated by the coming elections.  Over and above particular, heated issues, artists have responded to this sense of fraying by asking pointed questions of national identity through a variety of means by which Americans recognize themselves.  A Perfect Union…more or less features artists whose work engages Americans' collective identity through such material as The Constitution, the electoral process, and the country's many slogans and symbols.

Related Events:
Artist talk & poetry reading
Jen Benka
Sunday, November 14, 5pm in Cobb Hall Rm 307, directly below the gallery

Jen Benka will read from A revisioning of the Preamble of the Constiution of the United States of America, an artist book made in collaboration with Mark Wagner of Booklyn publications.  Benka has had work published in The Progressive, Ms. Magazine, So to Speak, Off Our Backs, and on La Petite Zine. She is the recipient of grants from the Xeric Foundation, Intermedia Arts, the Poetry/Film Workshop, and was a 2001 Wisconsin Arts Board Poetry Fellow. Benka has performed her poetry and music at the Nuyorican Poets Café, Brooklyn Lyceum, Bowery Poetry Club, and on NPR's World Café. She is the managing director of Poets & Writers, Inc.

Eric Slauter
The State and the Work of Art
Sunday, November 21, 2:00 pm

Slauter is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at The University of Chicago. His current book project, The State as a Work of Art: Cultures of American Constitutionalism, 1776-1787, examines foundational links between aesthetics and politics in a society that feared the arts but developed a legal understanding of the artificiality of the state. Slauter has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and was a Mellon Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago in 2003-04. This event will take place in Cobb hall Room 402 (down the hall from the gallery)  FREE.

Mary Ellen Carroll
Digital video, dual projection
Duration: 24 hours
Cobb hall 307 and 425

begins Saturday, December 11th at 9:00 am and runs continuously
through Sunday, December 12th 9:00 am

Mary Ellen Carroll filmed the front and back of the Federal building in Los Angeles, located at 11000 Wilshire and designed by Charles Luckman, for 24 hours straight. (She's got Warhol's Empire beat by 16 hours.)  The Federal Building has been described in architectural guidebooks as the "embodiment of bureaucracy."  Although we think of the federal Government as a discreet entity, its many components exceed the capacity of the imagination.  Carroll captures the building over an entire day, in part to give us a clear image of what our government looks like.  Housing the divisions of the Department of Veteran Affairs, the State Department, the FBI and the CIA; documentation of the building turns these high-level government agencies from the watchers to the watched.

A Perfect Union… More or Less has been made possible through generous support from Alphawood Foundation; Chicago Community Trust; the CityArts Program of The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, a municipal agency; Christie's; The Danielson Foundation; Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation; the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; LaSalle Bank; The LLWW Foundation; The MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince; The Peter Norton Family Foundation; the Provost's Discretionary Fund at The University of Chicago; The Pritzker Foundation; The Siragusa Foundation; and our membership.

AMERICAN AIRLINES is the official airline of The Renaissance Society's 2004-2005 season.
Last modified at 11:44 AM CST on Thursday, November 11, 2004.

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