The Warehouse of Disbelief

David Wolf

In The Warehouse of Disbelief, Chicago artist David Wolf transforms Gallery 400 into a space that alludes to a storeroom, a construction site, and a backstage. Wolf alters the walls, ceiling, and lighting of the gallery, while stockpiling the space with such objects as scaffolding, ladders, crates, boxes, barrels, cable, and rope. This project challenges visitors to address a situation that is simultaneously fictional and true, artifice and reality—one that implicates visitors in a narrative, yet resists fantasy. Incorporating themes of re-use, adaptation, and appropriation of space, this project harkens back to the gallery's origins as a grocery store, re-imagining its utility as a warehouse for material that slides between quotidian and artistic states.

As Chloe Johnston writes in her essay on the exhibit:

But are we to understand that there is an actual theatrical stage, somewhere beyond the walls that contain this warehouse? Yes, there is a performance space, but no, it is not a theater. This confusion is in evidence particularly in the use of sound. Throughout the space we hear noises, which seem to be the sounds of the rest of the building, the “onstage.” Yet we can see that they are actually coming from CD players in the warehouse. As an artist who goes back and forth between the institutions of theatrical performance and the institutions of visual art, David is asking us to look at the objects of stagecraft as though they were objects in a gallery, to study their materiality, as opposed to their manipulation. He turns a visual arts experience into a performing arts experience, only to turn those conventions on their collective head. The installation asks us to read it as a whole, as opposed to analyzing each detail. We are to think about the mise en scène as opposed to the formal realities of the assemblage.

David Wolf is a 2005 MFA graduate from the University of Chicago, where he received a Festival of the Arts Project Grant, a Summer Fine Arts Fellowship, and a Committee on Visual Arts Graduate Fellowship. His work has been exhibited locally at 4Art Inc. (2004) and The Franke Institute for the Humanities (2004). He has worked extensively providing technical direction and creating scenic design for Chicago theaters since 1998. The exhibition will be accompanied by an artist talk.

The Warehouse of Disbelief was commissioned as one of the projects in the 2005 At the Edge: Innovative Art in Chicago series.