September 16, 2007
By: Kevin Nance
"Meanwhile in Baghdad...," Nov. 11-Dec. 21. The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, 5811 S. Ellis. Free; call (773) 702-8670.
With the war in Iraq heading into its fifth year, contemporary artists -- including many who might have been reluctant to address the war in its early days as too current, too visceral -- are beginning to engage it, directly or indirectly.
The strange fruits of those engagements will be on often somber display in "Meanwhile in Baghdad...," a group exhibition opening on Nov. 11 at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.
...Most striking, perhaps, will be Daniel Heyman's "Abu Ghraib Project," a series of drypoint etchings based on drawings the artist made while attending the depositions of victims of the human rights abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison.
"There are a lot of Abu Ghraib projects by artists out there, but this to me was the most powerful, in part because of the artist's decision to use such an anachronistic means of documenting the event," Walker says. "You could've had photographs, video, audio, whatever -- but Heyman did etchings, which seems completely antithetical to the urgency of the situation. But it turns out to be this great distancing mechanism that allows him to view the war through the Vaseline-smeared lens of art history. He's going, like Goya, directly to the disasters of war, and making art from it."