Chicago artist Jason Lazarus lies in brown grass at the edge of a river in his photograph At Rest (2006). Cocooned from head to toe in a black blanket emblazoned with a tiger’s head, he waits for spring—or, as the gallery notes explain, an American leader he can support.
The eight works of “Bad Moon” were produced in 2008—except for Lazarus’s standout piece—by four artists from Chicago and one from L.A. who don’t typically identify with a political agenda. Here, however, the quintet successfully represents how frustrated and powerless worldwide conflict makes many young Americans feel. The artists confront uncontrollable issues including war, economic downturn and the Bush administration, albeit as passive observers.
In Red Diamond, Greg Stimac takes on the horrendous housing market. Scanning and rotating four photos of homes from real-estate ads into a disorienting grid, Stimac covers up the ads’ BANK-OWNED and IN FORECLOSURE banners, replacing them with an arresting red diamond that could be a symbol of the American Dream’s dark side. Curtis Mann, in contrast, offers a sense of hope: In bleaching found photographs of war-torn Israel/Palestine and Lebanon, the artist creates what looks like a soothing white light in the center of each image of combat.
Esteban Schimpf simply spray-paints a bedsheet with the words “God, imagine the storm on Jupiter”—something he said to his girlfriend after Hurricane Katrina. His attempt at humor in response to a natural disaster reflects a contemporary way of thinking. Whereas in the 1960s, many artists were loud and forthright in their activism, “Bad Moon” is quietly contemplative.
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