Review: Homage to a City’s Queer History / Hyperallergic

CHICAGO — Edie Fake is a radical punk queer feminist activist. He is currently “at large” in Chicago. Before that, he was driving around the country in a yellow school bus doing the gay performance “Fingers.” At the opening of his solo exhibition Memory Palaces at Thomas Robertello, he told me that he grew up somewhere outside of Chicago, and when he left town he thought his relationship with the Windy City was over for good. But much to his surprise, he returned. Chicago is like that. Many born-and-bred Chicagoans swear they’ll leave, and they do — for a time, anyway. Chicago has a way of bringing its queers back to the city for reasons unbeknownst to them. The theme of Fake’s show offers us a clue as to why.

Fake reflects on Chicago’s queer history both through his own personal experiences of friends who passed away, and through the spaces and places that have either disappeared, still remain, or never existed at all, yet still host the politicized queer ghosts and spirits of its occupants. This body of 15 drawings took Fake one year to produce. All are dated 2012 and made rather meticulously, almost scientifically, from the same materials — ballpoint pen, ink, and gouache on paper. Fake’s hyper-geometric patterning looks like a Southwestern mosaic, the lo-fi aesthetic of a 1980s Nintendo video game, and a touch of Magic Eye. Among Chicago artists, it’s highly recognizable — a mesmerizing meshing of geometrically inclined lines that seem handspun from a mind with an impeccable precision for detail. The drawings appear genderless and are located somewhere in a space outside of normative time structures.

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