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Chicago-Style Horror Invades New York

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June 26, 2009 | by Wendy Leopold
EVANSTON, Ill. --- “The Horror Show” -- a multimedia exhibit exploring the possibilities for horror in a post-9/11 world -- is headed for New York this summer.

A meditation on horror in paint, sound, video, interactive sculpture, photography and film, “The Horror Show” opens at New York’s Dorsky Gallery Curatorial Programs on Aug. 7 and runs through Sept. 2. It was organized by a husband-and-wife team of Northwestern University professors, David Tolchinsky and Debra Tolchinsky, whose artistic propensities lean toward the macabre.

The exhibit -- at the Chicago City Arts Gallery last year -- explores the attraction of horror as a centuries-old staple in art and literature.

Among its works is a photo series of cake slices by Northwestern artist Jeanne Dunning, who teaches in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. The elegantly rendered pieces of cake look enticingly delicious until viewers notice that they are covered in mold.

Nearby is a series of haunting photographs of a young girl who, according to artist Christopher Schneberger, developed the ability to levitate after losing her legs. The horror is compounded when viewed with Jean Marie Casbarian’s photo of what appears to be a headless spirit.

The Tolchinskys -- who teach courses in horror writing and horror film production at Northwestern’s School of Communication -- say the exhibit is less about eliciting a scream than about “looking at horror from the inside out.”

“As curators, we chose works that not only have their own disturbing power but that also dialog with one another,” says Debra Tolchinsky, assistant professor of radio, television and film.

To chilling effect, “The Genius of Coolwhip,” an installation by Northwestern media critic Jeffrey Sconce and associate professor in the School of Communication, embeds the words of a would-be sexual stalker from TV’s “To Catch a Predator” in upbeat dance music. Nearby is Josh Faught’s work in coffee, pen and ink titled “The First Person I Ever Came Out to Was a Convicted Sexual Predator.”

Perhaps Debra Tolchinsky’s “Smoke and Mirrors” best illustrates the ideas of perception, deception and self-truth explored in “The Horror Show.” The curator/artist has created a mirror in which viewers get a glimpse of their reflection before the mirror swallows it in smoke and snuffs the reflection out.

“The Horror Show” also includes works by Renate Ferro, Brian Getnick, Melissa Grey, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, Stephen Nyktas, Dan Silverstein, Brad Todd, David Tolchinsky, Ellen Wetmore and Craig Yu.

A catalog with essays by Dunning, Laura Kipnis, Timothy Murray, Sconce and Pam Thurschwell accompanies the show. For more about “The Horror Show,” visit www.dorsky.org or call (718) 937-6317.
Topics: Campus Life