David Hartt “Stray Light” at MCA
Inaugurating the MCA Screen space at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Canadian born David Hartt has created a media-base environment. Born in 1964, Hartt now lives and works in Chicago and is best known for photographs he takes with a “dispassionate eye.” Hartt’s subject matter for this project is Chicago’s Johnson Publishing Company building completed in 1971 by architect John Moutoussamy and interior designer Arthur Elrod. An iconic eleven story building on South Michigan Ave. that houses both Jet and Ebony magazines, its interior has essentially not changed after three decades. A video animates the photographs of the interior office space that hang in the small gallery while instrumental music accompanies. Watching the video is like stepping into a time warp.
Even entering the room, Hartt has recreated the bench and carpet from the offices in the museum. It’s a bit surreal watching a video with images of a functioning interior office space and looking down at the same carpet under your own feet. There are two very interesting aspects to this work. The first is that Hartt was able to provide viewers with an insider’s view of an African American environment as a true outsider. The second is that his work is quite timely; the building has been sold and the company is relocating. This exhibition is on view through May 6, 2012.