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[BKARTS] Karen Hanmer exhibit Jan 19-Feb 28, Chicago, IL



LOVE IN THE AFTERNOON
Artists' Books by Karen Hanmer

Showing January 19 through February 28
Vespine Gallery
1907 S. Halsted, 1st Floor, Chicago

Reception Friday, February 13, 6-9 pm


Artist also will be present Sunday February 1 and Saturday February 28, 10-3 p.m.


One standard trope of postmodernism is the reuse and recontextualization of cultural texts, objects and forms. Karen Hanmer's work clearly follows in this tradition, but exchanges the ironic detachment of much postmodern work for a nostalgic sweetness, a wistful yet savvy embracing of history both cultural and personal that is more poignant than clever.

Her sculptural books They All Laughed and Destination Moon which bookend
the history of manned flight, combine culturally familiar images with the
earnest and hopeful pronouncements of advocates of flight, as well as with
their echoes in popular music lyrics.

Cultural fantasy is also the subject of Hanmer's rebound romance
paperbacks. Prominently displayed on a low curved table with red reading
chair, these mass-produced, disposable dreams of love everlasting are
recast as elaborate, precious objects, like the loves described within,
matching the drama of the romance with the drama of the presentation.

Even the books which do not overtly recycle cultural materials play on our
expectations and highlight them through contrast.  I Remember My First,
expresses desire no less than the romance novels.  Once the reader gets
past the humor of the "switch," the testimonies to the beauty and
fascination of software and the act of programming presents a desire as
obsessive--yet also as poignant--as that depicted in the rebound romance
novels.   Poignant as well is the love portrayed in the terse I Can Still
Feel You Next to Me. The physicality of the book is inescapable, less
suggestive of human flesh than animal skin.  One is left wondering about
the object of desire being addressed.  The tenderness is enhanced by this
ambiguity of address, suggesting an openness to the possibilities of love.

Finally, the glass-covered Big River returns to an intertwining of forms:
popular music, game, history.  Reminiscent of Joseph Cornell, the
impossibility of the game matches the impossibility of the narrator's
desire and matches also the impossibility of the myths of American history.

The poignancy that flows through Hanmer's work suggests, deftly, the tragic
overreaching of the fantasies and desires with which we surround ourselves.

Vespine Gallery, an artist-run independent gallery providing intimate
exhibition space for emerging artists, is located at 1907 S. Halsted, 1st
Floor, Chicago. 773 316-0243. Gallery hours  10 am-3 pm every day.
--

Karen Hanmer
<mailto:khanmer@xxxxxxx>khanmer@xxxxxxx
http://www.karenhanmer.com

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