- COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND GREG KUCERA GALLERY You do not need to adjust your screen. This is what Chris Engman's Double Skew looks like on the wall.
When you look up at a skyscraper from the street, it tilts. But your brain, knowing the skyscraper must actually be standing straight or else it would fall down, straightens it up. What you finally see is a corrected version of what you first see, without noticing this adjustment is going on at all. In other words, what you see isn't what you see. It's that involuntary adjustment that Chris Engman's making bewilderingly visible in his exhibition of new photography at Greg Kucera Gallery. "Whoa—I can't even deal with it," the lady next to me said. I felt the same way. In the picture above, what you see was shot from below and left. But you face it head-on, and your mind does not know what the hell to do with this. You move this way and that, but there is no way to restore sense. The whole show is like this. Go. (Yes, this is certainly not the first time photographers have played with things like this, but these are especially well done.)
Dave Kennedy only found out about his various identities—Eritrean, American, Italian, Jewish, artist—one by one. As a kid and even into his late 30s, it was never entirely clear to him "what" he was, or he'd think he knew, and then a new piece of information would float up. His new photographs and videos are layered self-portraits, even the ones that don't feature him but instead depict, say, a hot dog nestled in a banana peel. The fruit-and-meat photos are big, tightly composed studio shots, and while pretty, they'd be too neat and distant if they were the whole show. But Kennedy is pairing them with videos in which sometimes he wears a blond wig, and sometimes he puts on purple lipstick and howls those last, killer refrains from "Purple Rain." Kennedy is straight, but his whole show has a drag vibe. "Somebody told me my work was 'feminine,'" he told me. Who knows what that means. For now, just take it as a compliment.
- Sheila Klein's large wall hanging at PUNCH could be an admonition on a Calvinist grandmother's wall if Klein hadn't hung it so it droops into those rebelliously curvy shapes (which will droop farther with time). The shapes remind me of what real breasts look like. Only work in the sun if you want to, ladies.
- Carolyn Gracz's really lovely prints, this one a monoprint with collage, are at Shift Gallery.
- These feet are made of chocolate. Dark-toned feet in chains. Intentionally uncomfortable or just uncomfortable? Or do you see jewelry? By Sabe Lewellyn at Gallery 110.