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several silences

May 12, 2009
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[Frieze] It is tempting to suggest that the Renaissance Society’s spartan galleries were made for a show like ‘Several Silences’, curated by director of education Hamza Walker.  But it would be more apposite and indeed fair to say that this modest but powerful exhibition quietly imposes its will on the austerely vaulted space.  The title of the show is drawn from a 1979 essay by the late Jean-François Lyotard, but neither Walker’s essay nor the elegant installation belabours this point.  Quite simply, the exhibition explores – judiciously and with admirable restraint – the various social and aesthetic valences of silence in contemporary culture.  The peril here is obvious: how to lend provocative form to the most immaterial of phenomena while avoiding the pitfalls of heavy-handed literalism or the lure of romanticism.  How, in other words, to articulate silence without encroaching on the integrity of the concept itself? (review)

Exhibition
April 28-June 7
Renaissance Society at U of Chicago

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