Rena Leinberger’s what is gathered exaggerates and replicates the idiosyncrasies of Gallery 400's space. Leinberger's installation turns the audience’s attention to observation of the gallery itself. In the seemingly empty gallery, vents, ducts, columns, doors, knobs, outlets, bolts, and hinges are evocatively and sometimes absurdly repeated and reconfigured. Impostor columns rise to partial height. Light switches migrate onto pillars. Hinges overlapping seams in the wall evoke phantom doorways.
Paul Burkhardt, a Chicago-based freelance writer and editor, wrote:
As [the viewer’s] attention, now discerning a camouflage of white, continues to scan the room, other utilitarian details emerge. These walls—not paid attention to for so long, crowds looking past them for years, sufferers of indirect light and always the focus of only the rim of the spotlight—vie for attention. Outlets and grates sprout. The switches in the switch plates never retreat. The corkscrew-handle-shaped knobs collect in a virus-like pattern on the door. They spread before [the] eyes [of the viewer], as in reaction to this new attention paid to the space, like bacteria under a tepid gaze.
Rena Leinberger is a 2002 MFA graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has exhibited in Chicago at The Storefront, the Evanston Art Center, and Gallery 2. Her solo show Rift was shown at APT.1R Gallery. She was a 2002 recipient of a Joan Mitchell MFA grant.
Rena Leinberger’s exhibition was one of six in the series At the Edge: Innovative Art in Chicago in 2002. At the Edge unveils newly created works that are difficult to show in commercial spaces, that extend a working artist’s practice, and/or pushes the boundaries of art experimentation. Marked by inquiry, experimentation, and ingenuity, the artists’ projects of 2002 were the first annual At the Edge exhibitions intended to encourage the most innovative aspects of Chicago’s art community’s dynamism.