“Warsong: Iliad Cenotaphs,” an exhibition of sculptures by Jonathan Gabel, and “Marked,” a mixed-media installation by Joseph Kohnke, as part of its ongoing “Anatomy in the Gallery” contemporary art program at the IMSS
opening on February 1, 2008, with a free, public reception for the artists from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.,and remaining on view through April 18, 2008.
Museum of Surgical Sciences
1524 N. Lake Shore Dr. Chicago, IL 60610 USA
“Warsong: Iliad Cenotaphs” comprises painted wood sculptures representing the negative space of fatal wounds suffered by warriors in Homer’s Iliad. Throughout the ancient Greek epic poem, more than 250 warriors are introduced by name only to be slaughtered on the battleground, the description of their injuries so precise that Gabel has been able to create detailed anatomical models of the flesh displaced by spears and arrows. He says, “Through the cartography of the body, the medical view of the world illuminates not only the physical properties of life, but also the intangible value of it.”
In sculpting what is literally lost during these soldiers’ deaths, Gabel asks viewers to consider what else war takes from humanity. According to the artist, “against the horror and literal disembodiment that is modern warfare, these ancient warriors offers an almost eerily serene entry-point for the contemplation of life and its violent cessation.” Gabel currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, and received his MFA from Rutgers University. For further details about Gabel and his art, please visit www.jonathangabel.com.
“Marked” consists of a faux medical device that continuously scans a conveyer belt of skin images from which Kohnke has excised every marking. Upon registering a void in the stream of images, the pneumatic mechanism triggers a light on one of two bodies, representing the marking’s original location. The pair of bodies that Kohnke employs—a human form and that of a fawn—illustrates the contrasting functions of external markings, which can signal a life-threatening illness in the one and serve as life-preserving camouflage in the other. “In nature, markings and spots on the body’s surface are used to increase the chances of survival, whereas on humans they are looked upon as flaws or the markings of death,” Kohnke says.
Inspired by a good friend’s death from melanoma, “Marked” reflects Kohnke’s meditation on the fragility of all life, whose fate can be determined by a seemingly insignificant mark. He says, “The idea that something so small and overlooked on the skin can consume your entire body both frightens and intrigues me.” A former resident of Evanston and MFA graduate of the Art and Technology program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Kohnke recently relocated to Pasadena, California. More information about Kohnke and his work is available at www.josephkohnke.com.