Afrofuturism, drones and urban blight at the Logan Center

By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
Staff Writer

Blocks from the University of Chicago Law School, where President Barack Obama once lectured, an art installation by saxophonist David Boykin is exploring one of the Hyde Parker’s most controversial strategies to combat terrorism: drones.

Set in a room of the first floor of the Logan Center, 915 E. 60th St., Boykin’s installation features sheets of white office paper strewn about the floor representing rubble. Fragments from published descriptions of drone attacks are projected on all four walls while a continuous buzz oscillates overhead, the sound of spoken accounts of drone attacks layered over one another.

“Part of my daily practice involves long tones where you’re playing one note for an extremely long period of time,” said Boykin, who was inspired by wordplay. “So we ‘drone.’ It’s what we do.”

The installation is part of the culminating show for the third-ever class of Arts and Public Life and Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture artists-in-residence, entitled “Testimony.” Work by Chicago designer Andres L. Hernandez and mixed media artist Krista Franklin are also featured.

Boykin’s work, entitled “Drone of Testimony: A Vigil Against US Drone Attacks,” is joined nearby by Krista Franklin’s Afrofuturism-inspired “Fantastic,” a room adorned with spray paint designs and swirls among print cut-outs of Mesai tribespeople, audio equipment and African statues. Outside the Logan Center’s first floor gallery is Hernandez’s “Benign Neglect,” featuring two long prints of vacant Woodlawn and Washington Park lots and a Zen garden-like layering of rubble from the lots in the courtyard.

Although the artists works’ use different media and draw from disparate ideas, curator Monika Szewczyk says they share a peaceful quality.

“I feel like they’re quite serious about that, and they’ve found a way to project it that’s not kind of saccharine and irritating,” she said.

All artists-in-residence will speak at the Logan Center while the show is on display. Hernandez will give a talk from noon to 1:30 p.m. on July 20 and Franklin and Boykin will participate in public conversations from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.. on July 23 and on Aug. 27, respectively. “Testimony” runs through Aug. 30 and admission is free.

For more information, visit arts.uchicago.edu.

j.bishku@hpherald.com