February 11, 2014

In Logan gallery, artists contemplate alternate dimensions

[img id="112670" align="left"/]The Fifth Dimension at the Logan Center seems to begin before the beginning. That is to say, even before entering the circumscribed space of the gallery, one can unknowingly encounter elements of the exhibition. Take for example Ika Knežević’s video installation that is shown on a screen in the café adjacent to the gallery space. Shuffling through clips of a model in various locations of the Logan Center—lying naked on a piano, walking among a seemingly complex grid of mirrors in the Center’s penthouse space, posing once again on a concrete bench—the piece intrudes on the otherwise quotidian café space, churning out both the sounds of a relentless and rhythmic beat and the beautiful, startling scenes of the model’s movements.

Ika Knežević’s video is actually meant to be the fifth piece in this chronologically unveiled exhibition, wherein each work—beginning with Pieter Vermeersch’s “Untitled” (2013)—builds on and is in dialogue with the others. In many ways, Vermeersch’s work is a logical starting point: Two long walls of the gallery’s initial room are devoted to a study of colors (light pink and periwinkle) and their respective gradients. Built into the exhibition space itself, the work can be seen as a combination of the two- and three-dimensional, as it is defined by a three-dimensional structure yet is conceived out of the application of acrylic paint on a flat (two-dimensional) surface.

And yet, The Fifth Dimension isn’t necessarily calling into question the idea of dimensionality itself (as delineation of physical and temporal spaces), but rather presents works of art from a range of media in order to create a “space of contemplation,” as explained by Logan Center Curator Monika Szewczyk. Indeed, The Fifth Dimension as both an exhibition and a conceptual tool seeks to answer many of the questions Szewczyk posed to herself concerning the nature of contemporary art: “What is it that makes art stay with you, change your perception of the world, of what it means to be an agent in the world?”

The answer to this question partially lies in the forms of the works themselves. Beyond the video installation and the work painted on the gallery walls, Tauba Auerbach’s “Marble” (2011), displayed within the same room as Vermeersch’s work, is a large slab of marble transformed into the shape of a book. Playing with traditional notions of material and form, its opened “V” shape recalls the four corners of the gallery walls marked by Vermeersch’s paint and creates a visual connection to the next display, Geof Oppenheimer’s “Modern Ensembles” (2010–2011). Constructed out of materials of modern warfare (gunpowder, ballistic plex, smoke dyes, black powder), these cubic sculptures are at once dangerous and visually engaging, forcing an engagement with—and contemplation of—materials we are not likely to encounter every day.

Multidimensional forms are taken even further when we consider the other component to Ika Knežević’s contribution, “Nine Hour Delay” (2012–ongoing), which invites the visitor to check out a pair of the very same Borosana shoes worn by the model in the video installation. The shoes, originally developed in Croatia during the 1960s and manufactured in the former Yugoslavia, can be checked out in the lower level of the Logan Center to transform the position of the viewer from a person who merely observes to one who experiences.

The Fifth Dimension is a complex, multivalent endeavor. With so many works of art situated in various locations of the Logan Center (and working with a wide range of media), the exhibition offers us equally many modes of experience. Szewczyk defined the exhibition in this way: “The hypothesis is that the exhibition is not so much about the fifth dimension, something you can observe at a distance, but that it is the fifth dimension—or more precisely variations thereof. A multidimensional understanding of art, and by extension, of the world, needed to feel like it is continually transforming.” In this context, the exhibition’s location at the Logan Center seems particularly well situated, as it reaches into the space where University of Chicago students and artists engage every day in the process of learning, knowing, creating, and indeed, transforming.

The Fifth Dimension is at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts through February 16.