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Janice Kerbel

Past exhibition

Janice Kerbel

About the Exhibition

The Arts Club of Chicago is pleased to announce the first US exhibition of London-based artist Janice Kerbel (b. 1969, Canada). Kerbel is an artist best known for her intensively researched explorations of the indefinite space between reality and fiction.

For The Arts Club, Kerbel produces a new version of her audio play Ballgame (2009), a sound work comprised of play-by-plays for what Kerbel calls “a perfectly average game.” Based on records of baseball games played in the United States for the past century, Kerbel’s script recounts an invented game that approaches averages in all aspects of play—the length of time for a particular inning, the number of errors, balls, strikes, and hits, the names of the players, and even the score are derived from the statistics of historical games. The new version features the voice of Chicago actor Colin Stinton. With Stinton’s masterful mimicry of the sports announcer, Kerbel achieves drama and excitement in what is designed to be a typical game, while also making the game feel new and strange because of its silent delivery in the space of art.

Also on view is Cue (2012), a series of 36 black-and-white, abstract silkscreens that translate a drama enacted through lighting cues into two-dimensional form, as well as other graphic works. Shown for the first time in North America, the series relates to Kerbel’s earlier light installation for the Chisenhale Gallery titled Kill the Workers! (2011). In each work, Kerbel realized a theatrical narrative—through actual lighting cues in Kill the Workers! and in shapes of varying placement and value in Cue. Kerbel also exhibits excerpts from Remarkable (2007), a series of typographic works first commissioned for Frieze Projects, London, that use the antiquated form of the broadside to announce characters out of an imagined sideshow—the contortionist, the shyest person in the world, and the regurgitating lady. A related work, Three Ring!, 2010, advertises the acts on center stage. Together, these works demonstrate Kerbel’s playful but also acute sense of language in both its present and outmoded use.

Catalogues from the exhibition can be purchased in the Arts Club of Chicago online shop.

About the Artist

Since the mid-1990s, Janice Kerbel has proposed or realized invented characters and situations that derive from her rich investigations of historical, theatrical, or environmental sources. She works across a range of materials including print, sound, and light, and her work takes the form of plans, proposals, scripts, or announcements for imagined scenarios that cannot or will not occur. Kerbel undertakes meticulous research to arrive at projects that are deceptively simple and yet poetic. A residency at the Ucross Foundation, Wyoming, in 2005, for example, led to an artist’s book and related prints titled Deadstar, in which Kerbel compares the geological formation of historical ghost towns to the morphology of dying stars. The final result is a map for a new ghost town, which speaks of transience, absence, and death, as well as the culture and landscape of the American West. Another investigation led to a 100-page manual with detailed instructions for a bank robbery in Central London.

Kerbel’s work has been exhibited at Tate Britain, Chisenhale Gallery, and greengrassi, London; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre; and I8 Gallery, Reykjavik. Her radio play Nick Silver Can’t Sleep, commissioned by Artangel, was broadcast by BBC Radio3 in 2006.

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