Deb Sokolow: Schematics, Surveillance, Murder
The four multipanel drawings included in this exhibition, ranging from six to 27 feet wide, were made between 2012 and 2016. Each includes a reference to the art world cast in a strange or outright criminal context. Individually, these works: fantasize that an artist residency is a brainwashing station for an international ring of art thieves; speculate about the occupants of her studio building and the development of a cult in her neighborhood; touch upon an unfortunate entanglement between an artist and the CIA; and imagine a scenario in which the CIA planned to use a sculpture to assassinate a foreign leader. The exhibition’s title is derived from Sokolow’s 88-inch-wide drawing titled “A Case Study in Schematics, Surveillance and Murder,” concerning the 1964 murder of abstract painter Mary Pinchot Meyer, a mistress of President John F. Kennedy and ex-wife of a CIA agent. Sokolow’s diversion from the sordid facts interweaves brief accounts of orgone boxes, painted rocks containing “bugs” planted by a CIA Counterintelligence chief, and painters in the Washington Color School, illustrated with an imaginary architectural plan of Pinchot Meyer’s house. Sokolow’s investigations are particularly salient given our current climate of fake news, conspiracy theories, and “alternative facts.”
Sokolow’s work has been included in the 4th Athens Biennial, as well as exhibitions at the Drawing Center, New York; Van Abbemuseum, Netherlands; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the Kemper Museum of Art, Kansas City. Her work is in the collections of Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Bloomington, Indiana; and the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Sokolow has received an Artadia award, fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and Illinois Arts Council, and residencies from the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, Art Omi, and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. She received her Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The artist lives in Chicago and is represented by Western Exhibitions, Chicago.