Heather Saunders Director of Ingalls Library
Medley (detail), 2010. Alex Jovanovich (American, b. 1975). 74 35mm slides, slide projector; 6 min, 10 sec
This summer, the Ingalls Library becomes an exhibition venue for contemporary art for the first time in its history. As part of FRONT International: An American City, Alex Jovanovich (American, b. 1975) will exhibit one drawing and three 35mm slideshows that explore the concept of Faustian bargains—deals with the devil for personal gain—in response to the state of the nation.
Installation view of Some Poor Girls at Adds Donna, Chicago, 2013. Alex Jovanovich (American, b. 1975)
The contemplative nature of Jovanovich’s work suits the library’s nooks and crannies that he plans to activate, such as a narrow wall space between shelves for periodicals. In addition, his slideshows feature narrative text that relates to reading and storytelling, which further associates his work with libraries. He balances the potential sentimentality of vintage projectors with his slides that contain computer-generated images, resulting in what he describes as a cold contrast to the warmth of the slideshows. But his drawings are handmade, naturally, and feature patterns that evoke flowers, lingerie, orifices, or antique designs. The drawing exhibited in the library depicts a spider, and is partly inspired by Vachel Lindsay’s poem “The Spider and the Ghost of the Fly.” Jovanovich admits that mourning has long had a hold on him. “I think our culture’s forgotten how to mourn, since we’re so terrified of death and reflection,” he says. However, he sees mourning as creating space for contemplation, and thus feels unwilling to leave the proverbial tomb. Art making for Jovanovich involves probing the unknowable by creating “instruments to try to touch the beyond.” He adds, “I believe in things we cannot explain. I have an abiding respect for mystery.”
Projected Jovanovich plans three projector installations in the Ingalls Library.