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Exploring the Presence of Absence

Northwestern professors curate multimedia exhibit at Chicago’s Hairpin Arts Center

EVANSTON, Ill. --- “The Presence of Absence,” an art exhibition curated by Northwestern University faculty members Dave and Debra Tolchinsky and featuring an installation by MacArthur “genius” award winner and Northwestern Professor Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, opens Monday, May 6, at Chicago’s Hairpin Arts Center.

The 13th annual exhibition of Chicago’s Contemporary Arts Council, “The Presence of Absence” grapples with “that which should be there but isn’t and that which shouldn’t be there but still is felt, seen or heard,” according to its curators.

The exhibition runs from May 6 through June 2 at the Hairpin Arts Center, 2800 N. Milwaukee Ave., in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. An opening reception takes place Friday, May 10, from 5 to 7 p.m. 

“Gathering work for the show, we found ourselves drawn to artists who explore the tension between that which is and that which is not in film, video, installation, sculpture and other media,” says Dave Tolchinsky, professor of radio/TV/film and director of the Master of Fine Arts in Writing for the Screen and Stage Program in the School of Communication.

He and Debra Tolchinsky, associate professor of radio/TV/film, recently co-curated “The Neighbor Next Door: Shimon Attie,” an exhibit at Northwestern’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art that the Chicago Tribune called “one of 10 not-to-be-missed shows.” They also curated “The Horror Show.” It opened at the Chicago Arts Gallery before traveling to Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs in New York, where the Village Voice named it a “Voice Choice for Art.”

The work by Manglano-Ovalle at the Hairpin bathes its audience in a crimson light while occupying no physical space in the gallery. Manglano-Ovalle -- who years ago created a video installation block party in one of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods -- is professor of art theory and practice at Northwestern.

Other Northwestern connections to the exhibition are Melika Bass, the spring artist-in-residence at the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, and video artist Robert Chase Heishman, who earned his MFA at the University in 2012. Featured artists also include Christopher Baker, Laurie Palmer, Paola Cabal, Brendan Meara and Katarina Weslien.

For more about the exhibition and gallery hours, visit the Hairpin Arts Center's website.

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