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Art & Art History

Phantastic Photographs

Wednesday, October 08, 1986–Saturday, November 01, 1986
Gallery 400
400 South Peoria Street, Chicago, IL 60607

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Duane Michals, Hatty Van Zak, Boyd Webb, and the collaborative team Barbara Ciurej, and Lindsay Lochman

In Phantastic Photographs, Gallery 400 presents color photographs by Duane Michals, Hatty Van Zak, Boyd Webb, and the collaborative team Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman. Each creating his or her own unique world, these artists exhibited elaborately choreographed, large to huge images in luxurious color. United in a sensibility that is simultaneously eerie, lush, and nostalgic, the photographs address themes of fantasy, sensuality, and sexuality.

Boyd Webb, originally of New Zealand but now living and working in Bristol and London, fabricates and photographs patently artificial, whimsical outer space landscapes in which small mundane objects and materials loom fantastic and larger than life, and in which the artist himself often appears. Demonstrating the artist’s imaginative range, Scenes and Songs from Boyd Webb, a videotape, was also screened during the exhibition.

Hatty Van Zak, originally working in Sweden and later in New York, received considerable attention after her solo New York debut in 1985. Gallery 400 presented two of the “Twelve Hotel Rooms,” which are giant-sized color studio prints of elaborately staged tableaux – in which episodes of sexual, colonialist, and imperialist exploitation are played out in ten different locations across time and space (e.g. “Palermo, 1914”). The mural-sized cibachromes parody contemporary sexual and narrative clichés, the fetishization of history, and the ingratiating methods of commercial photography.

Duane Michals, a well-known photographer and creator of sequential photo narratives inscribed with text, was represented by such of his works as the Prodigal Son series (1982) and works on dreamy themes combining handwritten texts on single black and white photographs. One larger painted photograph hints at Michals ’ move toward
multi-media productions.

Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman are a Chicago-based collaborative team. They presented Flings and Eros, a witty black-and-white series on romance, and Fertile Girdle, which explores analogies between female sensuality and the natural world and comparisons between tamed and untamed nature.