Doug Ischar: Undertow

Doug Ischar: Undertow

Vtape and Gallery 44 were pleased to co-present the first Canadian survey of the multifaceted work of Chicago-based artist Doug Ischar. Bodies at rest and in motion, voyeuristic impulses rubbing up against the drive to consume – each plays a role in the elegantly framed and re-framed works in this exhibition.

At Vtape, Ischar’s most recent single channel videos, Alone With You (2011) and Tristesse Tarzan (2012), unfold as nested, time-based puzzles, teeming with sensations both tender and painful. In Alone With You, the highly nuanced visual editing is redolent of the musk of men thrown to canvas, over and over, like spectral gods, shimmering in their ’80s VHS instability, so there and not there. Restlessly roaming over the whole surface of the frame, the often picture-in-picture editing yields images that float up, zoom back or present as pulsing slivers, evoking ascension as easily as a glory hole. And all the while the audio knowingly cracks between instructional pop lyrics (“girls just wanna have fun”, “gimme gimme gimme this, gimme that”) and the sublime of Faure and Massenet.

At Gallery 44, Ischar has his eye firmly trained (pun intended) on queer masculinity, catching the seemingly halcyon days of the mid-’80s just shy of the dread and fear that was building just below the surface, ever present but completely invisible in his elegiac photo series Marginal Waters (1985/2009).

Opening reception: Friday, May 3, 6:00 to 9:00pm
Panel Discussion: Sunday, May 5, 12:00 to 2:00pm

The panel discussion on May 5 took place at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, with speakers Gregg Bordowitz, Jean-Paul Kelly, and Kevin Killian, moderated by John Paul Ricco.

Doug Ischar’s work is included in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; and the Norton Family Collection, Santa Monica. His video work has recently screened at the Toronto Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and MIX Queer Experimental Film/Video Festival, New York. He received his BA from Columbia College, Chicago, in 1984, and his MFA from California Institute of the Arts in 1987. Since 1990, he has taught in the Photography Department of the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Official Featured Exhibition in the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.
A Community Partner exhibition with the Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival.

Still credit: Alone With You, Doug Ischar.

Two Platitudes for Doug Ischar By Sholem Krishtalka, 2013 (pdf)