Liliana Porter | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Liliana Porter 

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You'd think by now all exegesis would have been squeezed out of Kewpie dolls, Jesus lamps, and geisha figurines. But Liliana Porter's show, "Girl With Rubber Dog, and Other Situations," suggests that tchotchkes still have a story to tell. Porter's meticulous screen prints, wall-mounted sculptures, and photographs present resuscitated figures in vignettes that read like cells excerpted from a storyboard. In the slick C-print Dialogue With Teapot, the gaze of a Dutch girl on a ceramic basket-weave teapot meets the glance of a geisha statuette posed with the teapot against a perspectiveless cream background. More creepy than cute, Porter's potentially tired images of women made me feel like an adolescent walking past two girls whispering at a high school locker--maybe about me. That sense of eavesdropping on a conversation continues in her larger works. The black-and-white life-size screen print of a geisha in To Be There is so straightforward, even archetypal, it could be a dictionary illustration. She's holding a tray in one outstretched hand, but her face is obscured by two three-dimensional frames, one within the other. The contours of the tray echo the look of the frames: could she have covered her face herself? Because she and I were the same size, I was made more aware of my own circumscribed vision--I may never know more than my own framed view. Tue-Fri 10:30 AM-5:30 PM, Sat 11 AM-5 PM, through 2/27, Carrie Secrist, 835 W. Washington, 312-491-0917.

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