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Shahryar Nashat: Raw Is the Red



Shahryar Nashat creates videos and sculptures that investigate the body and its image as sites of desire, fragmentation, tenderness, and resilience.

Focusing on our physical limits and the possibilities of extension, he treats digital and analog technologies—from LEDs to stone and cast resin—as prostheses, props, or stand-ins. For this exhibition on the Bluhm Family Terrace, the artist presents a newly commissioned sculpture alongside a vitrine-encapsulated “meat object.”

The sculpted rock and the image of decaying flesh form a diptych, setting their states of impenetrability and permeability in dialogue and opposition. The stone—with its digitally carved varicose veins—represents both an impervious object and a surrogate for the body, evoked by the “meat object.” Together they recall institutional forms of display, from the pedestal to the reliquary, questioning the role these apparatuses play in a virtual age in which the body and the art object are often mediated by screens.

Presented on a stage “dressed up” in the same linoleum flooring used in the artist’s home, Shahryar Nashat: Raw Is the Red foregrounds the tensions between the human and the prosthetic, the interior and the exterior, the authentic and the drag. Coating the windows in pink film—a medium the artist frequently uses—Nashat expands the scenography to encompass the artwork’s architectural frame, enveloping viewers and queering their perception of the horizon.

The exhibition is curated by Jordan Carter, curator at Dia Art Foundation, and Susanne Ghez, adjunct curator in Modern and Contemporary Art at the Art Institute of Chicago.


Shahryar Nashat: Raw Is the Red is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago with major funding from the Bluhm Family Endowment Fund, which supports exhibitions of modern and contemporary sculpture.


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