New Chicago Comics | Museum of Contemporary Art | Museums | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Jan. 8-30 2011
Comic books are a visual art, but only sort of--and this Museum of Contemporary Art show demonstrates both why they do and don't belong on museum walls. Representing the don't side: Jeffrey Brown and Paul Hornschemeier, each of whom produces insistently narrative work. Brown's crude drawings and layouts and cutesy punch lines, especially, suffer when pulled out of context. Works by Anders Nilsen and Lilli Carré, on the other hand, seem liberated by it. A Nilsen page from Big Questions #9--showing a small bird cursing in darkness before it encounters a cave full of apparently eyeless birds--isn't diminished by the fact that we don't know where the story goes next. On the contrary, the sequence of images left me feeling like the small bird--thrown into a mysterious landscape where there are wonder and life but no escape. Similarly, Carré's Splits--a stencil-like, symmetrical image dominated by two identical women, stuck in teapots from the waist down and posed facing each other--plays with the comic book convention of panel-to-panel repetition. It's as if a character had turned around, caught sight of herself in the previous frame, and been transmuted into art. --Noah Berlatsky

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