ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Reckless Rolodex highlights the lasting, though largely overlooked, influence of Lawrence Steger, described by the Chicago Tribune as “one of the most important, and most influential, performance artists in Chicago during the late 1980s and 90s.” Lawrence Steger explored desire and sexuality in performance until his early death in 1999 due to AIDS-related complications. Rather than eulogize the artist’s life, Reckless Rolodex underlines Steger’s legacy through works by contemporary artists responding to his work and research practice. A skilled director, writer and performer, Steger relied on the disciplines of theater and a community of collaborative artists to realize his intricately constructed performances, reflecting his deep knowledge of a wide range of sources, from pop culture and film to the writing of Jean Genet and the Fluxus-style works of Yoko Ono. Mercurial, mordant, stylish, and comical, he presented himself refracted through historical figures such as Ludwig II, the nineteenth-century “Mad King” of Bavaria, or imaginary personas like nocturnal figures that populate cabaret dreams and nightmares.
Reckless Rolodex is the first concentrated examination of Steger’s work to date, providing a landmark opportunity to unearth an artistic predecessor too-easily marginalized by his early death. Central to the exhibition is a stage, created by Edie Fake, where commissioned performances will premiere alongside writing by artist and co-curator Matthew Goulish. Over the past eighteen years, Goulish has written a series of lectures and essays in response to Steger’s archive. Some of that writing will appear in printed form or as newly presented lectures in the context of this exhibition. Additional works on view respond to different facets of Steger’s public persona including an exploding, fragmentary cast of a mirror ball by Young Joon Kwak; a set of masks by Max Guy; a site-specific installation by Devin T. Mays; a set of kitchen knives fabricated from graphite by Betsy Odom; and more. As befits Steger’s oeuvre, works on view wield a theatrical quality, crossing mediums and emotional registers to undermine the notion of a static self.
Exhibition material can be found in plain text and in audio recordings here.
Susan Anderson, Lilli Carré, Edie Fake, Max Guy, Barabra Kasten, Young Joon Kwak, Devin T. Mays, John Neff, Betsy Odom, Derrick Woods-Morrow, and Cherrie Yu. With performances by ATOM-r, Sky Cubacub, Matthew Goulish, Natasha Mijares.
Support for Reckless Rolodex is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency; and the School of Art & Art History, College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts, University of Illinois Chicago.
Masks are required to enter.
Gallery 400 is wheelchair accessible with no stairs to enter and an elevator to the gallery. There are two single use gender neutral restrooms on the same floor as the gallery. Staff are available to assist with the doors of these bathrooms, as they are heavy. There are accessible, multi-stall, gendered restrooms available on the higher floors in the building.
All gallery text and image/visual descriptions are available as audio via QR codes. Staff is available to support in identifying QR code placement. Screen reader friendly formats will be available soon.
Several of the exhibition’s installations have sound. Quiet space is available in the Gallery 400 library, accessible with the assistance of Gallery 400 staff.
Gallery 400 is easily accessible via public transit. The Blue Line CTA stops a 1/2 block from Gallery 400 at the UIC-Halsted station, which has an elevator. The #8 Halsted bus stops three blocks from the Gallery. From the loop the #126 Jackson bus stops at Van Buren and Peoria, across the intersection from Gallery 400.
Parking is available at UIC’s Harrison Street Parking Structure located four blocks from the Gallery at 1100 W Harrison St. From there, travel to the Gallery east on Harrison past Morgan and UIC’s Academic and Residential Complex (ARC) to the CTA bridge over the freeway. Cross the bridge to get to Gallery 400 a 1/2 block north of the bridge.