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I CAN DO THAT – An Interactive Exhibit

What is art? The ever present question that pervades the walls of museums and galleries and seeps into the streets, the question that makes you wonder if this urinal with a signature is in a museum, what about my bidet at home? Or wait, how is this in here and not that impressive wheat paste I saw on Damen? In these instances, it seems the more appropriate answer could be what isn’t art? So when faced with a seemingly unimpressive or underwhelming artwork in a gallery, viewers tend to fall back on the assertion I can do that. The thing is most people don’t – until now.

Thanks to independent curator and SIFC’s own Jenny Lam, viewers can now become active in the art they seek. In the interactive exhibit appropriately titled I CAN DO THAT, attendees are given jurisdiction over the aesthetics of the works as well as the meanings behind them. By breaking down the inaccessible taboos and pretentious stereotypes of the art world, Lam hopes this exhibit will bridge the divide between artist and viewer. As the viewer is placed in the position of the artist, a sense of the art process becomes evident. “This show is all about the art” says Lam, “you can’t come and avoid it. because people are invited to actively engage in the works, that forces them to, well, really look at the art”.

Participating artists volunteered their works as well as their mediums. In front of each individual piece were the materials used to create the works. Some artworks give the demand “Improve Me”, where exhibition visitors are encouraged to apply the supplied medium directly to the work. Other pieces challenge with “Copy Me”, as exhibition visitors can try their hand at re-creating the work.

Quite the crowd gathered for the opening of I CAN DO THAT on Friday the 13th. The white-walled room of Variable Space has been transformed into a competitive craft room, where palettes, spray paint, glue guns, and even a Xerox machine are exposed to the attendee’s whims. It was amazing how invested visitors became in transforming the works before them, sitting before a typewriter at a window, painting large scrolls on the floor, or building upon a sculpture of refuse.

The exhibit forces the attendees into creative spontaneity. If you want to glue a cigarette butt to a sculpture, go ahead. If you want to Xerox your belly-button or kiss a canvas with your painted lips, please do! I CAN DO THAT is an exhibit constantly in flux; open Monday through Wednesday from 10am to 4pm and by appointment. Don’t just view the works, leave your mark before the exhibit’s close on April 27th from 7 to 10 pm.

Check out photos from the opening of I CAN DO THAT below, taken by SIFC’s photographer Sophia Nahli.

Monday-Wednesday, 10am to 4pm and by appointment.
Closing Reception April 27th, 7pm to 10pm.
Variable Space
1564 N. Damen Ave., #303 (at Milwaukee Ave. in the heart of Wicker Park)
Chicago, IL 60622
For more information visit Jenny Lam‘s website.

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