Sympathy for the Devil | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Sympathy for the Devil 

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Subtitled "Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967," this exhibit often captures the cultural force of the music's delirious, anarchic promises. The conceptual and sensual center is British artist Douglas Gordon's installation Bootleg, which even without music suggests the essence of rock--its ephemerality, intensity, transgression, and physicality. Set up in a dark room are two adjacent monumental video screens, canted and at a right angle to each other, showing bootleg tapes; these engulf the viewer. One screen shows Lux Interior of the Cramps confronting the audience, crouching shirtless in tight pants and high heels, the audience roiling beneath him. The other video was shot from within a vast crowd waving their hands in adulation at a Smiths concert. The screens are intentionally too big for the videos, presumably recorded on consumer video equipment, so these semiabstract, oceanic images look overexposed. It's an aesthetic choice in keeping with the music, often contemptuous of classical principles of musicality; the effect is simultaneously dreamy and charged. In a far corner is a video of the Rolling Stones at Altamont, at the end of the Summer of Love. a Through Sun 1/6: Tue 10-8, Wed-Sun 10-5, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago, 312-280-2660, free admission through Sat 11/24. --Janina Ciezadlo

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