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The Art Institute of Chicago’s “Exposure” features Emerging Photographers

Photography has always been one of my loves. Luckily for me (and for you, if you enjoy photography or are just curious about it) there are a variety of exhibitions up across Chicago right now that feature photography and reexamine its place in the art world.

The first stop is the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing, which is home to a small but impressive exhibition, “Exposure,” featuring the work of Matt Keegan, Heather Rasmussen, and Katie Paterson. The show is the fourth installment in an ongoing series devoted to emerging photographers, lead by the museum’s Photography Department.

Heather Rasmussen. Untitled (New Orleans, Louisiana, September 10, 2005), 2010. Courtesy of the artist.

At first glance the work of these artists seems simple, but the images hold more meaning than what initially appears. Rasmussen’s photos feature boldly colored, rectangular paper boxes against blank backgrounds. The boxes are sometimes leaning, sometimes scattered, occasionally crumpled or wet – yet all are in disarray. It is only upon investigation that you realize these boxes represent metal shipping containers, and each photo recreates a shipping accident. Rasmussen’s images distance us from the disaster, but also amplify it.

Katie Paterson, History of Darkness (detail), 2010. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the artist. James Cohen Gallery, New York.

Paterson’s focus is more distant and unknowable. For History of Darkness, she used the powerful telescopes from Hawaii’s Keck Observatory to photograph the voids in deep space that receive no celestial light. The resulting photographs and slides, each representing a unique location, yet all equally black and empty, catalogue the darkest corners of the universe.

Keegan combines sculpture, photography, and annotated books to examine the constantly changing rhythm of city life. Untitled (Old Bordeaux) consists of anonymous photos of city life tacked to a sheet metal panel. Upon closer inspection Chicagoans might be able to pick out familiar vistas and locations, or recognize the panel’s rusty hue as the same color used on the city’s bridges.

Though these artists each have distinct concerns and methods of expressing them, there is a certain harmony in the way they utilize photography to distill their concepts – whether it is human industry, the ever-changing city, or the vastness of space. “Exposure” offers insight into the way new thinking can refresh the medium.

Exposure will be up through March 4. Additionally, Katie Patterson will be giving an artist talk (free with regular admission) on February 23 at 6 p.m. For museum hours and ticketing information, click here.