In her introduction for Catherine Opie, SAIC Dean Lisa Wainwright referred to the artist as “a documentarian and a romantic.” Wainwright’s comments – directed to the near-capacity crowd of students, scholars and admirers gathered at Rubloff Auditorium on September 10 – referred to Opie’s ability to capture and emphasize the beautiful in the commonplace, a quality that characterizes much of the photographer’s work from her nearly 25 year career.
In its modern incarnation, “Midway” typically specifies a section of a county or state fair detectable by the abundance of artery-clogging food, weirdos slinging black light posters, and some form of mud-related entertainment. One might speculate that the word’s origin lies south of the Mason-Dixon Line, but the common noun “midway” in this context actually dates back to Chicago’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, apparently the first of its kind to feature a separate amusement area.
“How can an artwork claim to represent a queer aesthetic if it does not overtly represent gender or sexuality?” “What are the domains of queerness and how can they expand?” Some of the most interesting strains of queer thought and art practices are developing these themes. The first work inside of the expansive exhibition “The Great Refusal: Taking on New Queer Aesthetics,” featured in Sullivan Galleries, was a photograph depicting a grid of overlapping red laser beams emerging from a black background. The image, “Untitled (Laser on White Paper), 2011” by recent SAIC alum Assaf Evron, could be a study of light, space, and perception. Its queer investment is not overtly apparent, which is what makes it an interesting and important inclusion in the show.