According to the cosmology of Chicago-based artist Adelheid Mers, the earth and its resources constitute a “blob,” and we living things grow on (and fall out of) it like hair. Thus “Hairy Blob,” the new Mers-curated Hyde Park Art Center show, which considers how all those hairs coexist, overlap, and interlace.
The 11 participating artists were selected for their common interest in the environment, sustainability, and social justice—but the work is multifarious. Lauren Carter’s Sunsets comprises 650 encyclopedias with gilded pages, stacked to resemble a brick wall or a pile of lumber. Carter couldn’t have anticipated the recent announcement that the Encyclopedia Britannica will no longer publish a print edition, but her timing is fortuitous: she’s dealing in obsolescence here, repurposing books as art and housing. Faheem Majeed’s Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden, meanwhile, is an accretion of stuff—an old fan, a painting—found at the South Side Community Art Center (where Majeed once served as executive director) and piled on wood planks that echo the Bauhaus style of the SSCAC’s paneling. There’s no real theme, but the artifacts are meant to constitute a random history of the place going back to 1938. The other artists tapped by Mers: Becky Alprin, Deborah Boardman, Sarah FitzSimons, Kirsten Leenaars, Emily Newman, Ashley Hunt, Judith Leemann, Taisha Paggett, and Nadav Assor.