What’s a “hairy blob”? According to curator Adelheid Mers, “The blob is Earth; the hairs are people.” Despite its playful title, this exhibition is so conceptually dense it’s almost obtuse. Through drawing, installation, sculpture and video, its artists explore the impact of time on how we archive information and rebuild with limited resources, among other themes.
Lauren Carter’s Sunset, a tower of old encyclopedias, is one of the show’s most assured, captivating works. With gilded pages lending the sculpture an ornamental sheen, it could be a monument that elevates these outdated books, celebrating the human impulse to organize information—or a suggestion that they’re obsolete, useful only for stacking.
Faheem Majeed’s installation Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden (1938–2012) features cedar-paneled walls and an assemblage of dust-covered rope, crayons, pill bottles and other ephemera found at the South Side Community Art Center, where the artist used to be executive director. Playing with what constitutes an archive, Majeed reassembles this collection of objects—which resembles a rummage sale—throughout the course of the show, ascribing new value to these discarded items. Becky Alprin’s paperboard city Carry Along is another ever-changing work: Each day, the installation travels a bit within the gallery, slowly growing and decaying over time.
The QR codes scattered throughout the exhibition, which direct viewers to supplementary artists’ videos, are distracting. But Mers intends the show to spiral out in many directions, tapping grad students in her SAIC curatorial seminar to organize additional events and projects. Though it teems with so many ideas that it feels overcrowded, “Hairy Blob” has its riveting moments.