January 21 – March 4, 2017
Galleries One and Two

Exhibition Text


ANDREW RAFACZ is pleased to announce INTENTS & PURPOSES, a solo exhibition by Latham Zearfoss in Gallery One and Gallery Two.

Chicago, IL, January 21, 2017- ANDREW RAFACZ begins the year with INTENTS & PURPOSES, a solo exhibition of sculpture, installation and video by Latham Zearfoss. The exhibition continues through Saturday, March 4, 2017.

Referencing the design and logic of a department store setting, the sculptural and time-based works in INTENTS & PURPOSES aim to playfully converse between tropes of market culture and political interventions, each with their own method of display.

The viewer is initially confronted in Gallery One with a series of artist made kiosk-like pedestals supporting both sculptural and functioning screens. These self-standing entertainment centers ascend in size, along with the objects they support, with the initial one holding a flat screen television looping a new video work by Zearfoss. The Butlers Did It features two central characters modeled after science fiction author Octavia Butler and philosopher and gender theorist Judith Butler. Built from stock footage of a black woman and a white woman, the video contains a series of vignettes in a hospital setting, with the two figures activating a discourse through their written texts across divergent scenarios of healing. Their quotes, pulled from each authors’ oeuvres, are presented through voice over via two Chicago-based artists playing the respective roles.

Zearfoss also presents DYNAMITE, an installation of 18 bundled unlit birthday candles standing upright on a narrow opaque plinth. An homage to Laquan McDonald, this subtly political work celebrates his life and memory and reminds the viewer of this awful tragedy and its continued reverberations.

A third installation will be comprised of individual handmade bricks of bergamot and lavender soap and mimic the architecture of a cell. The interior space, initially closed off to viewers, will be revealed throughout the exhibition as the bricks are acquired by the gallery’s patrons and removed.

Finally, the artist presents a new video projection and installation in Gallery Two. Dirge is comprised of a single shot of an ascending escalator in disrepair at Chicago’s Fullerton Avenue CTA station. Although functioning normally, the escalator makes a tonally dynamic and haunting song as it runs without passengers. Zearfoss transcribed the footage’s field recording into musical notation and produced a new partially improvised choral soundtrack that mimics the original source. He has paired this recital, in three voices, with the original audio, creating a richly textured sonic landscape, partnered with the low-grade video. While the imagery suggests an infinite escalation, the soundtrack undercuts this mechanized optimism with a somber, wordless lyricism.

Employing a faux-funhouse setting, these installations will create a kind of truce between disparate discourses. In doing so, Zearfoss asks us how marginal publics might harness the language and effects of consumer culture. The artist investigates the limits and possibilities of the pursuit of political and spiritual liberation within our current culture, by remixing historical and mythologized sources in an effort to highlight the hidden subtexts of radical potential.

LATHAM ZEARFOSS (American, b. 1980) lives and works in Chicago, IL. Zearfoss received their B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute in 2008 and their M.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2011. Recent solo exhibitions include Yes X 1000, Threewalls, Chicago (2015) and Bruising Darkness, Lease Agreement, Baltimore (2014). Other notable exhibitions include HOME THEATER SYSTEMS, The Mini, Cincinnati (2016); SPEECH! SPEECH!! SPEECH!!!, Vox Populi, Philadelphia (2015); and Body Doubles, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2014). They orchestrated Platforms: 10 Years of Chance Dances in various locations in Chicago in 2016. Their commitment to art and activism has also manifested in the creation of sporadic, temporary utopias like Pilot TV, a temporary television studio space and Chances Dances, a queer dance-party collective that is home to the Critical Fierceness and Mark Aguhar Memorial grants. Zearfoss is currently involved in a collaborative research and action group called Make Yourself Useful, which is dedicated to discovering and implementing the meaningful contributions white people must make in the struggle towards racial justice.