July 21, 2014

Phantoms in the Dirt

Columbia College Chicago
Adam Schreiber, Remains, 2011. Chromogenic development print,
40 x 50 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Sasha Wolf Gallery, New York.


Featuring Jeremy Bolen, Anya Gallaccio, Richard Mosse, Adam Schreiber, Matthew Brandt, Jay Heikes, Eileen Mueller, Daniel Shea, Shannon Ebner, Joachim Koester, Arthur Ou, Greg Stimac, Assaf Evron, Harold Mendez, Alison Rossiter, Shane Ward


The Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) at Columbia College Chicago is pleased to present Phantoms in the Dirt. This exhibition brings together artworks that direct attention to elemental kinds of matter—wood and iron, water and dirt, or rugged, sparsely inhabited landscapes—as well as to the mutability of photographic meaning and to the equivocal presence of various remnants and traces. In addition to photographic work, the exhibition features sculptures, a 16mm film, and a site-specific wall installation.

The 16 artists represented in this show present their subjects in deceptively simple ways, and yet their works are steeped in a mysterious quality that seems to radiate from the mute facts of matter. Certain works in the show allude to photography’s empirical capacities—photography as a scientific tool or a form of evidence—including microscopy, criminal forensics, and social documentary photography. Other artists represented combine photographic imagery with actual matter from a certain place or transform their subject matter by creating otherworldly effects, such as Mosse’s arresting pink landscapes, which are a surreal by-product of using an infrared film that registers what the human eye cannot.

The traces evident in the show’s artworks often hint at larger frames of reference. Reaching for what is not immediately visible, some deal with troubling current economic realities, tangled geopolitical histories, or specific realities such as Rust Belt towns in the American heartland falling into decline, or continuing armed struggle in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The artists in Phantoms in the Dirt bring the rough world of matter into the foreground, but their examinations are attuned to both the substantial and the ephemeral, revealing ways in which visual evidence can point to what is not easily perceived.

Guest curated by Karsten Lund (Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago). This exhibition is made possible as a result of Lund being selected by the Contemporary Arts Council, an independent non-profit organization, as their sponsored curator for 2014.


Phantoms in the Dirt is sponsored by the Contemporary Arts Council. Generous support for Phantoms in the Dirt is provided by the Efroymson Family Fund. Additional support is made possible by the Headlands Center for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and the Danish Arts Foundation.

The exhibitions, presentations, and related programs of the MoCP are sponsored. The MoCP is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The museum is generously supported by Columbia College Chicago, the MoCP Advisory Board, Museum Council, individuals, private and corporate foundations, and government agencies including the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.


The Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP), a resident organization of Columbia College Chicago, is the only museum in the Midwest with an exclusive commitment to the medium of photography. By presenting projects and exhibitions that embrace a wide range of contemporary aesthetics and technologies, the MoCP strives to communicate the value and significance of photographic images as expressions of human thought, imagination, and creativity.

Press contact
Chaz Olajide, Manager of Marketing and Communications, Museum of Contemporary Photography:
T +1 312 369 7705 / [email protected]



Phantom in the Dirt at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Columbia College Chicago

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