Regarding the Missing Objects is an exhibition articulated around several absences: the absence of archival items representing a museum collection, the absence of an exhibition, and the absence of an artist—Dana Carter—who passed away in the early days of the exhibition design. This exhibition organized by Ruslana Lichtzier showcases artworks that consider these absences, yet it also spotlights the deep material, social, and spiritual relations between the selected works and their makers; a group of artists and writers who decided to work together in the face of institutional denial.
The absent exhibition—a thesis exhibition for the Chicago Jewish Artists Fellowship at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership—was originally planned to happen there in June 2019. Two months prior to the exhibition’s opening, the host institution decided against exhibiting one of the participating artist’s works, stating the work featured a “one-sided” view of Gaza after the 2014 Israeli aerial raids. The decision led to the fellows-artists unanimously withdrawing from the exhibition and to the subsequent resignation of Lichtzier, who at the time was the Director of the Fellowship. Prior to the thesis exhibition’s cancellation, the artists intended to present selected items from the institution’s collection upon which they conducted a year-long artistic investigation while developing their own work.
Built on the mostly hidden dynamics between institutions that care for cultural archives, and the artists and scholars who study them, Regarding the Missing Objects endeavors in excavating objects and histories that were denied representation. The exhibition invites us to ask what are the material and immaterial outcomes of institutional censorship? What historical perspectives are being suppressed in museum collections and why? In turn, the artworks here suggest how collections and archives that resist institutional silencing may take shape in the future.
About Ruslana Lichtzier
Photography by Amy Stallard
Curator of Regarding the Missing Objects, Ruslana Lichtzier (she/her) is a doctoral student in Art History, a Mellon Fellow in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) and in Critical Theory at Northwestern, as well as a curator, educator, and critic. Past selected fellowships include Core, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, and Red Bull Arts, Detroit. Lichtzier directed Triumph School Manual Project, in Triumph, Illinois, the project space Triumph, Chicago (in collaboration with Ryan Coffey), and the Jewish Artist Fellowship at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. Recent curatorial projects include the group exhibitions An Echo, She Is (Chicago Manual Style, Chicago, IL), Four Flags Chicago (Chicago Manual Style, Chicago, IL (in collaboration with Stephanie Cristello)), The Dangerous Professors (Flatland Gallery, Houston, TX (with the support of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston)). Lichtzier has contributed to numerous exhibition catalogs and international art publications; her essays have appeared in English, Hebrew, Spanish, and Korean. Lichtzier is a Lecturer in the Art History, Theory, and Criticism Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.