Form and Class: Origins and Ends of the Work of Art

Curated by Walter Benn Michaels
March 3 – April 14, 2018
Galleries One and Two

Exhibition Text


ANDREW RAFACZ is pleased to announce Form and Class: Origins and Ends of the Work of Art, a group exhibition of photographic works in Gallery One and Gallery Two.

Chicago, IL, March 3, 2018- ANDREW RAFACZ continues 2018 with Form and Class: Origins and Ends of the Work of Art, a group exhibition of photography by Viktoria Binschtok, Phil Chang, Arthur Ou, and Daniel Shea, curated by Walter Benn Michaels. The exhibition continues through Saturday, April 14, 2018.

‘Form and Class: Origins and Ends of the Work of Art’ is an exhibition about art and politics, but not exactly about the kind of art that seeks to make – or that looks like it’s making – a political statement. In fact, most of the work presented here looks like it originates not in the desire to say something political but in a desire to think about problems that might be called formal instead of political: what it means to make the frame either part of the work or extrinsic to it, how three separate pictures can be made into the elements of a single work or what the relation is between a photograph hung on the wall and that same photograph hung from a rack. And the work shown here that looks the most political might be understood as seeking to make something formal out of its political subject matter and thus to be repressing its politics.

But the idea of the exhibition is that these works – and these formal concerns – have a politics. And, more to the point, a particular kind of politics – a class politics.

What this means is something different from the protests against the cruelties of our current president. After all, the United States was just as much a capitalist society – just as much the site of a struggle between labor and capital – before Trump as it is under Trump. And the works exhibited here are not in any way responses to Trump. Rather they belong to a tradition of art-making that involves the effort to understand and embody the internal structure of the work of art itself.ÊThat effort declares the difference between the work and the world, a difference that can be deployed both to suggest that the injustices of capitalism are built into its class structure and to produce the distinctive pleasure of an aesthetic response that models the possibility of a different structure — which is to say, a different society.’ -WBM

VIKTORIA BINSCHTOK (Russian, b. 1972) lives and works in Berlin, Germany. Binschtok studied at the Leipzig Academy of Visual Art in 2005 and received her M.F.A. at the Academy of Visual Arts Leipzig in 2002. Binschtok has had recent solo exhibitions at Museum Folkwang (Essen, Germany), Kunstmuseum (Bonn, Germany), foto-forum (Bozen, Italy), KLEMM’S (Berlin, Germany), C/O Berlin (Berlin, Germany), and Kunstverein (Berlin, Germany). Recent group exhibitions include Pinakothek der Moderne (Munchin, Germany), C/O Berlin (Berlin,Germany), The Holden Gallery (Manchester, UK), The Georgian National Museum (Tbilisi, Georgia), DZ Bank Kunstsammlung (Frankfurt/Main, Germany), and Fondazione Prada (Milan, Italy). Her work is included in numerous private and public collections.

PHIL CHANG (American, b. 1974) lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Chang received his B.A. from the University of California Irvine in 1997 and his M.F.A from the California Institute of the Arts in 2005. He has had solo exhibitions at M+B (Los Angeles, CA), Praz-Delavallade (Paris, France), UCR California Museum of Photography (Riverside, CA), LA>ART (Los Angeles, CA), Pepin Moore (Los Angeles, CA). Recent group exhibitions include Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA), Praz-Delavallade (Los Angeles, CA), Roberts and Tilton (Los Angeles, CA), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA), Klemm’s (Berlin, Germany), Galerie Xippas (Paris, France), and The Institute of Jamais Vu (London, England). His work is included in numerous private and public collections.

ARTHUR OU (Taiwanese, b. 1974) lives and works in Queens, New York. Ou received his B.F.A. from Parsons School of Design in 1997 and his M.F.A from Yale University in 2000. He also attended the University of California from 1992-1995 studying civil engineering. Arthur Ou has had solo exhibitions at Brennan and Griffin (New York, NY), Downstairs Projects (Brooklyn, NY), Artereal Gallery (Sydney, Australia), and Taipei Fine Arts Museum (Taipei, Taiwan). Recent group exhibitions include Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (Detroit, MI), Grazer Kunstverein (Graz, Austria), Eleni Koroneou Gallery (Athens, Greece), Gallerie Xippas (Paris, France), Marianna Boesky Gallery (New York, NY), Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, IL), and Bank Gallery (Shanghai, China). His work is included in numerous private and public collections.Ê

DANIEL SHEA (American, b. 1985) lives and works in Long Island City, New York. Shea received his B.F.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2007 and his M.F.A from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2013. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Andrew Rafacz (Chicago, IL) and Webber Gallery Space (London, UK). Recent two person exhibitions include Heaven Gallery with TK Proechel (Chicago, IL), and LVL3 Gallery with Richard Galling (Chicago, IL). Recent group exhibitions include Robert Blumenthal Gallery (New York, NY), Canzani Gallery (Columbus, OH), Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, IL), Vava Gallery (Milan, Italy), V1 Gallery (New York, NY), and Davis gallery (Akron, OH). He will have a solo exhibition at Webber Gallery Space (London, UK) in 2018. Shea has been exhibited widely in art fairs in Chicago, London, and Amsterdam. He is included in numerous private and public collections.

WALTER BENN MICHAELS (American, b. 1948) is a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of Our America: Nativism, Modernism and Pluralism (1995), The Shape of the Signifier: 1967 to the End of History (2004), and The Beauty of a Social Problem: Photography, Autonomy, Economy (2016). His book on American politics, The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality, has been recently reprinted in a 10th anniversary edition.