60wrd/min COVID Edition: Review of SaraNoa Mark at Goldfinch

Lori Waxman, New City, April 4, 2021

In this weekly column, art critic Lori Waxman adapts her 60wrd/min project to review work by artists whose practice has been affected by the pandemic. Waxman covers shows that have been cancelled, postponed, shuttered, made remote or opened by limited appointment, as well as art made during quarantine. Reviews are written in the order in which requests are received. This iteration of 60wrd/min is a democratic, good-faith effort to document more of the art making that is happening at a time when much of it is relatively unobserved.


Installation view of SaraNoa Mark: “36° 15’ 43” N 29° 59’ 14” E” at Goldfinch, Chicago, March 2021


SaraNoa Mark’s “36° 15’ 43” N 29° 59’ 14” E” could be mistaken for an archaeological display. Hung with carved tablets, stacked with rows of inscribed cones, housing a large diorama of cryptic miniatures, it might plausibly represent the neglected backside of Myra, an ancient carved mountain site the artist visited in Turkey. (The show’s title is its geographic location.) The catch is that every sculpture in Goldfinch Gallery was made by Mark, some entirely from scratch, like the clay cones that resemble a type of mosaic from the fourth millennium BCE; others from found materials, like a series of patterned stone reliefs Mark altered only slightly after finding them among industrial remnants. Does that make the exhibit any less archaeological? Materials can never really be raw, even if most humans treat them as such. They contain histories, transformations, intentions, formal properties and data reserves legible to those who carefully excavate, clean, recognize, analyze and restore them. In this show, SaraNoa Mark proves themselves a practitioner of just such an art form.

—2021-04-02 9:05 PM