Encounters at the Edge of the Forest

Curated by the 2014 Exhibition Practices class of the Museum and Exhibition Studies program in the UIC School of Art and Art History.

Artists: Vaughn Bell, Ori Gersht, David Goldblatt, Ken Gonzales-Day, Tim Knowles, Philippa Lawrence, Ariane Littman, Steve Rowell, Andreas Rutkauskas, and Jennifer Scott. Curators: Alejandro Acierto, Lenny Cicero, Jillian Green, Nancy Harmon, Miok Lee, Jamie Luensman, Brigid Maniates, Taryn Mason, Sherwin Ovid, Rachel Shrock, and Meghan Wingert. Faculty Advisor: Rhoda Rosen.

Forests have served as metaphors variously for the depths of the imagination, of dreams, and of desire - places in which unfathomable danger and seduction lurk. The trees and foliage in this exhibition, however, are a lesser-known variety: the standard-bearers of nationalism. They mark borders, defend territory, and survey dominions. Burdened with soldiering on behalf of the nation state, they lay claim to land in its name, all the while concealing signs of the mechanized violence that brought the state into existence and continues to sustain it. Within the nation, the onus falls on these trees to determine whose lives will count and whose will not. The art and artifacts on view evoke those trees that have battled on behalf of or have been sacrificed to the nation-state’s cartographic conceit. The artists featured are among those who expose the mercenary tactics of national geography, refuse its delimiting function, and seek to imagine different ways of being.

This exhibition is supported by the School of Art and Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago with additional support from the International Studies Program and the History Department at UIC.